Celebration of International Women’s Day 2017
Commemorating the Acts of Courage and
Determination Among Women Migrant Workers in Hong Kong


In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Hong Kong SAR and Christian Action’s Centre for Migrant Domestic Workers will host a commemorative event with support of honorary guests today (12 March 2017).

Hosted at the New Horizons Building, Christian Action’s headquarters and service centre in Kowloon Bay, the aim of the event is to appreciate and recognise the vital role of women migrant domestic workers and their contributions to Hong Kong society, as well as to promote the rights and protection of those in the community who are vulnerable and at risk of exploitation. The event also provides an opportunity for migrant domestic workers to express and showcase their artistic capabilities through a photography exhibition and talent competition in the presence of Government representatives from Hong Kong, The Philippines, and Indonesia.

Activities and takeaway for guests at the event include free entry to the finale of month-long Migrant Workers Got Talent contest, Women at Work photography competition, as well as cultural performances, food stalls, game booths by migrant organisations aimed at showcasing the cultural diversity of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong.

International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on 8 March every year as a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Since the early 1900, IWD is commemorated to accelerate gender parity, particularly in work space, through celebration, reflection, advocacy, and tangible action. Despite global progress and attitudinal shift in approaching women’s equality and emancipation, there remains much work to be done.

Mr. Justin Murgai, Manager of Humanitarian Services at Christian Action, says: “Since 1993, Christian Action has shown relentless commitment to support marginalised migrant women who are at risk of exploitation and abuse. Women migrant workers from all over the world – daughters, sisters, mothers, who have chosen the responsibility to support their families – contribute immensely to the social and economic development of their home countries and also where they work. Today we are here to celebrate their courage and achievements, and to continue raising awareness of the issues surrounding the community, especially those related to exploitation, abuse, and poor living conditions.”

In Hong Kong, majority of women migrants work as domestic workers who perform a variety of work, ranging from household, labour to care services. While essential to the functioning of Hong Kong’s economy, in many cases, the work has been reported to be accompanied by underpayment, difficult working conditions, and insufficient legal support. Women domestic workers, in particular, may be subjected to physical and sexual violence and exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous agencies, recruiters or employers.

Mrs. Nurul Qoiriah, the Head of IOM Sub-Office in Hong Kong SAR said that, “In line with the key theme of today IDW celebration, IOM as the United Nation Migration Agency, would like to express our appreciation and recognition to the vital role of migrant domestic workers for their contribution to the society. Most of these women are the primary breadwinners for their families back home and have made the agonising choice to leave their children and families behind to earn a living abroad. Their remittances generate significant cash revenues back home.”

Ms. Emily Lau, the first female legislator directly elected into the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, said: “I want to thank the foreign domestic workers for their valuable contribution to Hong Kong. I wish to create a win-win situation for foreign domestic workers and their employers, where the workers' rights are respected and the employers treat their workers well and can get the service of trained and responsible workers.”
IOM Hong Kong and Christian Action had the pleasure to have welcomed over 400 people at the event, including migrant workers as well as guests of honour from governments and concerning organisations across Hong Kong, The Philippines, and Indonesia to give their greetings to the audiences. Guests include Ms. H.E. Bernarda L. Catalla, Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines; Mr. Tri Tharyat, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia; Mr. Sonny W. Manalu, Director of Social Rehabilitation and Victims of Trafficking Protection, Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs; Ms. Emily Lau Wai-Hing, former Chair of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong; Mr. Lee Cheuk-Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions; and Ms. Jec Sernande, Secretary of the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers.


Event photos & captions:

IWD2017 1 Ms. Emily Lau Wai-hing, the first directly elected female member of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, said that she looks forward to creating a win-win situation for employers and migrant domestic workers at the Celebration of International Women's Day 2017. 
IWD2017 2 Mrs. Nurul Qoiriah, Head of Sub-Office, IOM Hong Kong SAR, and Mr. Justin Murgai, Manager of Humanitarian Services at Christian Action, give their support to migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong.
IWD2017 3 Guests and organisers at Celebration of International Women’s Day 2017 (left to right): Mr. Justin Murgai, Manager of Humanitarian Services, Christian Action; Mr. Lee Cheuk-Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions; Ms. Emily Lau Wai-Hing, former Chair of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong; Mr. Tri Tharyat, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia; Mr. Sonny W. Manalu, Director of Social Rehabilitation and Victims of Trafficking Protection, Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs; Ms. H.E. Bernarda L. Catalla, Consul General of the Republic of the Philippines; and Mrs. Nurul Qoiriah, Head of Sub-Office, IOM Hong Kong SAR.
IWD2017 4 Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong showed their talents at Celebration of International Women's Day 2017.
IWD2017 5 Winning photo of the month-long Women at Work photo competition, featuring all originals submitted by migrant domestic workers. The photo exhibition was held at Celebration of International Women’s Day 2017 today.