3 From Temporary Work in Agriculture to Irregular Status in Domestic Service: The Transition and Experiences of Senegalese Migrant Women in Spain

  • Aly Tandian
  • Sylvia I. Bergh
Open Access
Part of the Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace book series (HSHES, volume 9)


Amid increasing irregular flows of Senegalese migrants to Spanish territories, the two countries entered into a bilateral agreement in 2007 for a temporary work scheme that ultimately saw the migration of more than 700 Senegalese women for work in the agricultural sector in Spain. Due to a number of factors, including weaknesses in the recruitment process on the sending side and the nature of the work on the receiving side, many of the women subsequently abandoned their posts in search of domestic work or jobs in personal services in Spanish cities, thus transitioning to irregular status. Using data collected from 525 of these Senegalese migrant women, this chapter examines how they came to form this unintended cohort of unauthorized migrants and their experiences as they strive to live, work, and access various social rights in the context of the current Spanish labour market and economic crisis. Some measures are suggested to strengthen the management of future temporary work schemes and protect Senegalese women migrants in Spain.


Agriculture domestic work gender labour market migration Senegal social justice Spain women 


  1. Agrela Romero, Belén; Gil Araujo, Sandra, 2005: “Constructing Otherness. The management of migration and diversity in the Spanish context”, in: Migration: A European Journal of International Migration and Ethnic Relations, 43-45: 9-33.Google Scholar
  2. Apap, Joanna, 2001: “Extending Citizenship Rights to Third Country Nationals. The Correlation Between Migration and Integration: A Sample from South Europe”, in: CEPS Policy Brief, 175 (October); at: <> (3 September 2012).
  3. Babou, Cheikh Anta, 2008: “Migration and Cultural Change: Money, ‘Caste’, Gender, and Social Status among Senegalese Female Hair Braiders in the United States”, in: Africa Today, 55,2 (Winter): 3-22.Google Scholar
  4. Baldwin-Edwards, Martin, 2004: “Immigrants and the Welfare State in Europe”, in: Massey, Douglas S.; Taylor, J. Edward (Eds.): International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 318-334.Google Scholar
  5. Blanchard, Melissa (2012): “Regard communautaire sur le parcours social et la sexualité des femmes sénégalaises ‘solitaires’ à Marseille”, in: SociologieS (Dossiers, Amours Transi(t)s. Transactions sexuelles au prisme de la migration), published on-line on 27 January 2012, at: <> (9 August 2012).
  6. Bocquier, Philippe, 1992: “L’insertion et la mobilité professionnelles à Dakar” (PhD dissertation, Université René Descartes, Paris V).Google Scholar
  7. Burnett, Victoria, 2007: “To Curb Illegal Migration, Spain Offers a Legal Route”, in: The New York Times (11 August 2007); at: <> (9 August 2012).
  8. Castles, Stephen, 2002: “Migration and Community Formation under Conditions of Globalization”, in: International Migration Review, 36,4 (December): 1143-1168.Google Scholar
  9. Corkill, David, 2001: “Economic migrants and the labour market in Spain and Portugal”, in: Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24,5: 828-844.Google Scholar
  10. Coulibaly-Tandian, Oumoul Khaïry, 2008: “Socio-anthropologie des mobilités sénégalaises à Toulouse et Barcelone et leurs influences au Sénégal. Diversité des pratiques, Organisation en réseaux, Place des NTIC et Analyse de genre” (PhD dissertation, Université de Toulouse and Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis).Google Scholar
  11. Danese, Gaia, 2001: “Participation beyond citizenship: migrants’ associations in Italy and Spain”, in: Patterns of Prejudice, 35,1: 69-89.Google Scholar
  12. Dietz, Gunther, 2004: “Frontier Hybridization or Culture Clash? Trans-national migrant communities and subnational identity politics in Andalusia, Spain”, in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30,6: 1087-1112.Google Scholar
  13. Dobner, Marianne; Tappert, Simone, 2010: “Female migrant domestic workers and their Spanish employers in times of crisis. A comparative analysis of consequences for women on both sides of the coin”, Paper for the SGIR 7th Pan-European International Relations Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 9-11 September.Google Scholar
  14. Domínguez-Folgueras, Marta; Castro-Martín, Teresa, 2008: “Women’s changing socioeconomic position and union formation in Spain and Portugal”, in: Demographic Research, 19,41 (August): 1513-1550.Google Scholar
  15. Domingo, Andreu; Kaplan, Adriana; Gómez Gil, Carlos, 2000: Easy Scapegoats: Sans-Papiers Immigrants in Europe: Report on Spain (Barcelona: Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics).Google Scholar
  16. EMN (European Migration Network), 2010: Temporary and Circular Migration: Empirical Evidence, Current Policy Practice and Future Options in Spain (December); at: <> (9 August 2012).
  17. Fall, Papa Demba, 1998: “Stratégies et implications fonctionnelles de la migration sénégalaise vers l’Italie”, in: Migrations Société, 10,60: 7-33.Google Scholar
  18. Falquet, Jules; Hirata, Helena; Kergoat, Danièle; Labari, Brahim; Le Feuvre, Nicky; Sow, Fatou, 2010: Le sexe de la mondialisation. Genre, classe, race et nouvelle division du travail (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po).Google Scholar
  19. FMP (Federación mujeres progresistas); at: 2009: Tenemos la persona que necesita. Tres meses de garantía. <> (4 December 2012).
  20. Freeman, Gary P., 1995: “Modes of Immigration Politics in Liberal Democratic States”, in: International Migration Review, 29,4 (Winter): 881-902.Google Scholar
  21. García-Cano, Ana Maria, 2002: “L’immigration non communautaire féminine vers l’Espagne” in: Migrance 21, deuxième trimestre: 116-131; at: <> (3 September 2012).
  22. Garreta Bochaca, Jordi, 2001: “Les immigrés africains sur le marché du travail espagnol”, in: Migrations Société, 13,77: 7-17.Google Scholar
  23. Ghosh, Bimal, 2000: “New International Regime for Orderly Movements of People: What will it Look Like?”, in: Ghosh, Bimal (Ed.): Managing Migration: Time for a New International Regime? (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 6-26.Google Scholar
  24. González Enríquez, Carmen, 2011: “Temporary Migration between Morocco and Spain”, in: Real Instituto Elcano ARI, 111/2011, 21/07/2011; at: <> (3 September 2012).
  25. González-Ferrer, Amparo; Graus Elisabeth, 2012: “Migrantes senegaleses en Francia, Italia y España: primeros resultados de la encuesta MAFE-Senegal en Europa”, in: Real Instituto Elcano ARI, 8/2012, 02/02/2012; at: < Ferrer_Kraus_migrantes_senegal_Espana_Italia_Francia_MAFE.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=490b5e004a047d0dae02bf39d72a98ae> (3 September 2012).
  26. Grillo, Ralph D.; Riccio, Bruno; Salih, Ruba, 2000: “Here or There? Contrasting Experiences of Transnationalism: Moroccans and Senegalese in Italy”, in: CDE Working Paper (Brighton: University of Sussex).Google Scholar
  27. Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Encarnación, 2010: Migration, Domestic Work and Affect: A Decolonial Approach on Value and the Feminization of Labor (New York – Abingdon: Routledge).Google Scholar
  28. Hoggart, Keith; Mendoza, Cristóbal, 1999: “African Immigrant Workers in Spanish Agriculture”, in: Sociologia Ruralis, 39,4 (October): 538-562.Google Scholar
  29. Kaplan Marcusán, Adriana, 2005: “From Senegambia to Spain: Migration process and social integration”, in: Migration: A European Journal of International Migration and Ethnic Relations, 43-45: 52-65.Google Scholar
  30. Kohnert, Dirk, 2007: “African Migration to Europe: Obscured Responsibilities and Common Misconceptions” in: GIGA Working Papers, 49 (May).Google Scholar
  31. Lessault, David; Beauchemin, Cris, 2009: “Migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe: still a limited trend”, in: Population & Societies, 452 (January).Google Scholar
  32. Lessault, David; Mezger, Cora, 2010: “La migration internationale sénégalaise. Des discours public à la visibilité statistique”, in: MAFE Working Paper, 5 (April).Google Scholar
  33. Lutz, Helma, 2008: “Introduction”, in: Lutz, Helma (Ed.): Migration and Domestic Work: A European Perspective on a Global Theme (Aldershot: Ashgate): 1-12.Google Scholar
  34. Lutz, Helma, 2011: The New Maids: Transnational Women and the Care Economy (London and New York: Zed Books).Google Scholar
  35. Mallet, Victor; Dinmore, Guy, 2011: “Europe: Hidden economy”, Financial Times (8 June 2011); at: <> (19 November 2012).
  36. Mendoza, Cristóbal, 2001: “The role of the state in influencing African labour outcomes in Spain and Portugal”, in: Geoforum, 32: 167-180.Google Scholar
  37. Morgan, Guy; Nolan, Chris, 2011: Step Up: Improving the Recruitment of Migrant Workers in Indonesia (BSR–Migration Linkages); at: <> (9 August 2012).
  38. Newland, Kathleen; Agunias, Dovelyn Rannveig; Terrazas, Aaron, 2008: “Learning by Doing: Experiences of Circular Migration”, in: Migration Policy Institute Insight(September).Google Scholar
  39. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), 2005: African Economic Outlook: Senegal(Paris: OECD).Google Scholar
  40. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), 2011: OECD Perspectives: Spain. Policiesfor a sustainable recovery, October; at: <> (19 November 2012).
  41. Parella Rubio, Sònia, 2003: Mujer, inmigrante, trabajadora: la triple discriminación (Barcelona: Anthropos). Riccio, Bruno, 2001: “From 'ethnic group' to 'transnational community'? Senegalese migrants' ambivalent experiences and multiple trajectories”, in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 27,4: 583-599.Google Scholar
  42. Robin, Nelly, 1996: “La Multipolarisation de la Migration Sénégalaise”, in: Ma Mung, Emmanuel (Ed.): Mobilités et investissements des émigrés: Maroc, Tunisie, Turquie, Sénégal (Paris: L’Harmattan): 48-64.Google Scholar
  43. Rosander, Eva Evers, 2005: “Cosmopolites et locales: femmes sénégalaises en voyage” in: Afrique & histoire, 4,2: 103-122.Google Scholar
  44. Sassen, Saskia, 2000: “Mais pourquoi émigrent-ils?”, Le Monde Diplomatique (November); at: <> (3 September 2012).
  45. Sinatti, Giulia, 2011: “‘Mobile Transmigrants’ or ‘Unsettled Returnees’? Myth of Return and Permanent Resettlement among Senegalese Migrants” in: Population, Space and Place, 17: 153-166.Google Scholar
  46. Sinatti, Giulia, 2012: “Return Migration as a Win-Win-Win Scenario? Visions of Return among Senegalese Migrants, the State of Origin and Receiving Countries”, Paper for the workshop Return migration and transnationalism: alternatives or complements?, Oslo, Norway, 4-5 September.Google Scholar
  47. Siregar, Lukman Hakim, 2010: “Bilateral Agreements on Migrant Workers: Developing a Legal Instrument for Protecting Indonesian Citizens Abroad”, in: Journal Diplomasi, 2/1: 169-186; at: <> (19 November 2012).
  48. Solé, Carlota, 1994: La mujer inmigrante (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Sociales, Instituto de la Mujer) Solé, Carlota; Ribas, Natalia; Bergalli, Valeria; Parella, Sònia, 1998: “Irregular employment amongst migrants in Spanish cities”, in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 24,2: 333-346Google Scholar
  49. Solé, Carlota; Parella, Sònia, 2003: “The labour market and racial discrimination in Spain”, in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29,1: 121-140.Google Scholar
  50. Sow, Fatou, 2006: “Genre, droits humains et migrations en Afrique subsaharienne”, Paper for the International Conference on Migration and Development, Rome, 8-10 June; at: <> (3 September 2012).
  51. Tall, Serigne Mansour, 2008: “La migration internationale sénégalaise: des recrutements de main-d’oeuvre aux pirogues”, in: Diop, Momar-Coumba (Ed.): Le Sénégal des migrations. Mobilités, identités et societies (Dakar: CREPOS-KARTHALA-ONU HABITAT): 37-67.Google Scholar
  52. Tall, Serigne Mansour; Tandian, Aly, 2010: “Entre regroupement familial et migrations autonomes des femmes sénégalaises. Quelle analyse de genre des migrations sénégalaises?”, in: CARIM Notes d’analyse et de synthèse, 2010/69; at: <> (3 September 2012).
  53. Tandian, Aly, 2008: “Des migrants sénégalais qualifiés en Italie: entre regrets et resignation” in: Diop, Momar-Coumba (Ed.): Le Sénégal des migrations. Mobilités, identités et societies (Dakar: CREPOS-KARTHALAONU HABITAT): 365-388.Google Scholar
  54. Tandian, Aly; Coulibaly, Oumoul Khairy; Sow, Papa; Tall, Serigne Mansour; Wade, Cheikh Tidiane; Dioh, Adrien; Dime, Mamadou dit Ndongo; Ba, Amédoune; Badji, Mariama; Gueye, Cina; Mbaye, Thierno; Tandia, Aboubakr; Diallo, Sellou; Diagne, Moussa; Mbengue, Mamadou Abdoulay; Vasquez, José Luis; Seron, Gema; Kebe, Ndongo; Sane, Mamadou Bonaventure; Thiakh, Ababacar; Thioye, Alassane Ibrahima; Gueye, Cheikh; Niang, Ousseynou; and Ciss, Mareme (2011): “Protection sociale des migrantes Sénégalaises évoluant dans les activités agricoles et les services aux particuliers en Espagne: Rapport de recherche”, Le Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Migrations (GERM) & Faits de Sociétés, Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis, Senegal (Mimeo).Google Scholar
  55. Truong, Than Dam, 1996: “Gender, International Migration and Social Reproduction: Implications for Theory, Policy, Research and Networking”, in: Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 5,1: 27-51.Google Scholar
  56. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 2008: People on the Move. Handbook on Selected Terms and Concepts. Version 1.0; at:< pdf> (3 September 2012).
  57. Van Nieuwenhuyze, Inge, 2009: Getting by in Europe’s Urban Labour Markets: Senegambian Migrants’ Strategies for Survival, Documentation and Mobility (Amsterdam: IMISCOE Dissertations – Amsterdam University Press).Google Scholar
  58. Wabgou, Maguemati, 2008: “Governance of migration in Senegal: The role of government in formulating migration policies”, in: Adepoju, Aderanti; van Naerssen, Ton; Zoomers, Annelies (Eds.): International migration and national development in sub-Saharan Africa: Viewpoints and policy initiatives in the countries of origin (Leiden: Brill): 141-160.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Open Access. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction any medium, provided the original author(s) and in source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aly Tandian
    • 1
  • Sylvia I. Bergh
    • 2
  1. 1.Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Migrations & de SocietesSaint-LouisSenegal
  2. 2.Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations