This week Metropolis takes a closer look into the lives of maids around the globe: their social status, the way they live, and their dreams and hopes for the future.
Due to the large differences in income between cities and rural areas, maids in countries like India and Indonesia often come from the countryside. Lilly from India and Elifatun from Indonesia are such girls; they came from the countryside to the city to live there and work as a maid for a rich family. With the money they earn, both girls hope to once open a restaurant in the village that they came from. This is also the dream of Nancy, the maid from Peru, who considers taking a job in a restaurant when the children she takes care of get too old to need a nanny.
In many cities and countries there is no large reservoir of badly paid people from the countryside, and often people in these kinds of countries seek their maids abroad. The best example of that are the many girls from the Fillipines who work for very bad wages in the rich oil states of the Middle East. Besides the Middle East this also happens in many cities and countries, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, where tons of young girls from other countries work as a maid. In Saudi Arabia there are more than a million foreign maids. Aside from the Filipines many of these girls come from poor countries such as Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia.
These young women often encounter discrimination in the countries where they work. In Afghanistan, the Hazara, a minority group that is often discriminated, do all the dirty jobs. The men do heavy physical work, while the women often work as maids. Gul is one of these women, she is lucky that her boss, a rich man from India, appreciates her and calls her ‘his older sister.’
But as we see in the footage from Nicaragua, a job as a maid can also give you the opportunity to become a social climber. Maid Maria married and got children with her much older boss. Now she is patiently waiting for her inheritance, which causes a lot of distress for her stepson, who is in fact older than Maria.