Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Nikolay STEBLIN-KAMENSKY, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography

In the last decade, labour migration to the Persian Gulf has become an essential life strategy among the people of Wollo. Although the number of young men and women travelling to the Gulf is almost equal, their experiences are very different. Women are believed to be more successful, their journeys are usually arranged by their families and are more costly. At the same time, men tend to leave their homes secretly, asking families for support only when reaching the Gulf. To some extent, this pattern is shaped by the labour market of the Gulf, which offers contract jobs almost only to female workers. However, the pattern resonates with social expectations rooted in society: girls are expected to be a helpful resource for their families while boys are expected to establish their own households. The presentation will focus on several cases of migration from a community in Habru Woreda, showing an intricate interplay of interests inside the extended family of a female-migrant, which makes her the last person to benefit from migration.