Intersectionality Making a difference

Intersectionality Making a difference

Intersectionality is defined as the relationships among multiple dimensions of identities and modalities of social relations and experiences of exclusion and subordination including gender class race ethnicity nationality and sexuality Collins 2000 McCall 2005 Davis 2008 It starts on the premise that everyone live multiple layered identities The theory attempts to expose the different types of discrimination and disadvantages that occur as a consequence of the combination of biological social and cultural identities AWID 2004

Intersectionality as coined by Crenshaw 1989 attempts to address the fact that the experiences and struggles of women of colour fell between the cracks of both feminist and antiracist discourse AWID 2004 Davis 2008 Subsequently this concept had extended to the understanding of women holding different disadvantaged social identities Such intersections indicate that oppression cannot be reduced to one fundamental type and that oppressions intersect together in producing injustice and inequality instead of multiplying around the different social identities Collins 2000 Conanhan 2009 YuvalDavis 2007 An understanding of intersectionality suggested the attainment of political and social equality of disadvantaged women and improving the global democratic system Harjunen 2008

This paper attempts to understand the intersection of social identities of Foreign Domestic Workers FDWs in Singapore The number of women coming into Singapore to work as a FDW had increased over the years and the increment of these outsiders had created many negative stigmas towards them discursively created by the State and the society By understanding the intersectionality these women face it will establish an understanding of what shapes their experiences and opportunities as an FDW in a foreign land

Domain of study Foreign Domestic Worker FDW in Singapore

As the temporary home to 196000 Foreign Domestic Workers FDWs and an estimate of employment of one livein domestic worker in every five households Daipi 2010 Singapore was and is an immigrant society The FDW performs various household and maintenance chores for the families including cooking cleaning and caregiving to the young and elderly Evidently many FDWs now are the caregiver for babies and toddlers while their mothers were obliged to put in long working hours in the old male model and subordinate their family time for work demands This may constitute more than mere caregiving where many FDWs devote their love and emotional attachment to their young employers as a response to what the FDWs cannot provide for her own child Hochschild 2004 With the introduction of the Foreign Maid Scheme in 1978 1 labour mobilization of women was promoted by the government which prioritises economic development that brought about the significance of the Singapore female labour FDWs have since been a visible feature of households in Singapore This gradually led to the outlook of an ideal family in the Singapore context that comprises not only the kin but also the fictive kin

The ideal family in Singapore is one that consists of two working parents a foreign maid who looks after their children and an older relative usually a grandmother to supervise the domestic worker Teo 2011

According to Ochiai 2010 the model of Care Diamonds as proposed depicts patterns of care provision in each society in four different sectors namely the State the Market the Family and Relatives and the Community

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Figure Care Diamonds in Singapore

In the Singapore context we see that there is a good proportion of care responsibility of familialism falling onto the Market which reflects the bulk of welfare responsibility towards its members in terms of both income distribution and care provision Ochiai 2010 falling from the Family into the hands of the foreign domestic and care workers from the Market This signifies the importance and prevalence of FDW in Singapore fami

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