SDC and the ILO launch the Regional Fair Migration Project in the Middle East

SDC and the ILO launch the Regional Fair Migration Project in the Middle East

​October 2016

Sophia Kagan, Chief Technical Adviser, FAIRWAY Project, International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Arab States, Beirut

The FAIRWAY project, with SDC funding of over 2 million USD, aims to promote much-needed policy change for vulnerable migrant workers, informed by evidence-based research; support improved implementation of laws and policies; and address discriminatory attitudes towards migrant workers.

The project operates at the regional level and offers country-specific assistance and support in selected countries in the Middle East, with implementation continuing until mid-2018.

 

FAIRWAY builds on the ILO's ongoing work to implement the ILO's Fair Migration Agenda and Fair Recruitment Initiative in the region, and the promising momentum of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (as well as other policy dialogues) where discussion on reforms of the kafala, and improvements in working conditions of domestic workers have made some headway.


To support this policy dialogue – particularly on the concerning issue of the high costs of recruitment for workers from Asian countries - FAIRWAY, together with the ILO Regional Office for Arab States, used the opportunity of the project's online launch to release a new white paper 'Ways forward in the recruitment of low skilled workers in Asia-Arab States corridor'. The paper explores the entrenched culture of low-skilled workers having to pay for their recruitment even where this is prohibited by regulations – equivalent to billions of dollars of unauthorised charges. The paper also offers ideas and recommendations for positive change.

 

As well as recruitment, a core focus of the FAIRWAY project is the protection of domestic workers in the region. Recent ILO research has revealed the many restrictions placed on domestic workers by their employers, such as withholding of wages, preventing the domestic worker from communicating with friends and family, and not allowing the domestic worker to leave the house on a day off, were specifically linked to negative perceptions about migrant women and the occupation of domestic work. Alongside important legislative and policy reform, advocacy to reduce discriminatory attitudes and actions by employers is essential.

The My Fair Home campaign is a global initiative of the ILO and the International Domestic Workers Federation, and has been endorsed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The advocacy campaign aims to elicit attitudinal and behavioural change among employers of domestic workers to improve the working relationship and ensure decent work. Domestic workers' organisations from all over the world use the My Fair Home campaign as a tool for awareness raising, policy advocacy and organising. The campaign has yet to initiate activities in the Middle East.

The workshop, held at the American University of Beirut, served as a forum for civil society and workers' organizations to:

  • discuss recent research into employers of migrant domestic workers,
  • share experiences in reaching out to employers and devising advocacy campaigns,
  • develop key messages and strategies for the implementation of the campaign in the region.



For further information visit the FAIRWAY project page (ilo.org/fairway) and the ILO’s Regional Office for Arab States labour migration page (ilo.org/roasmigration).