Migrant Workers’ Rights and Women’s Rights – Women Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon: A Gender Perspective

UN Women, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and Arab Institute for Women (AiW)

Gender equality cannot be achieved in Lebanon without dismantling the kafala system and creating legal protections for domestic workers. Women make up an estimated 76 per cent of all migrant workers and 99 per cent of migrant domestic workers who come to Lebanon for employment. Despite coming to the country as workers, they are exempted from labour protections according to article 7 of the labour law. This paper illuminates the gender dimensions of women migrant domestic workers’ lived experiences in Lebanon, and demonstrates why attention must be increased to issues of sexual and reproductive health rights and access, sexual and gender-based violence, racialized and gendered economic inequality, maternal rights and child custody issues, and gender discrimination in legislative and administrative procedures governing migrant women’s lives. It is hoped that this deepened gendered understanding will contribute to efforts to dismantle Lebanon’s kafala system. It is also hoped that this paper will improve the approaches taken to address migrant workers’ rights in Lebanon and will advance the inclusion of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon’s women’s rights and feminist movement.

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