Hay Had A Dream

Armenian Women’s Labor Migration to Turkey

Gyumri, Armenia

Istanbul, Turkey

They hate it and they love it. Their dreams are definite but too far. Labor migrant is a term that they are not even aware of. This project is an exploration of the situation of women migrants from Gyumri, Armenia, who work in Istanbul, Turkey. Photographed are the women and their families in Armenia and Turkey, their lives and work. 

A research by Eurasia Partnership Foundation in 2009 showed that, “Most illegal Armenian migrants in an interview pool of 150 people had traveled to Istanbul from the northwestern Armenian region of Shirak, site of a devastating 1988 earthquake, where unemployment runs high. Ninety-four percent of the respondents were women employed in domestic services jobs.”

The women who migrate for work are mostly divorced or widowed. The work that they engage in is housekeeping, nursing, babysitting, and other in-house work. They earn about $500- $800 per month. The women often live in the houses of the people they work for, and many others rent small apartments and often share them with other Armenians. The women mostly stay in Istanbul illegally. They mostly live in Istanbul’s Kumkapi district, which has been an Armenian district since historical times.