Women leaders of expatriate communities from seven countries came together in Doha for an event marking International Women’s Day.

The participants represented mainly the construction, domestic work and hospitality sectors.

Hailing from African, South East Asian and South Asian countries, they shared experiences on the issue of women's participation and leadership in building communities of expatriates.

The 'Women (Only) Night Out', was organised for the first time by the Women Committee of Bayanihan ng Manggagawa sa Konstruksyon ng Qatar, the association of Filipino migrant workers in the construction sector of Qatar (BMKQ); and global union federation Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI).

“Women members in our organisation continue to increase. This is a result of resolute action. Women will never be a part of the table unless we organise ourselves,” BMKQ’s Women Committee chairperson Mags Laja said.

“In most cases, as some would tell, women must create our own table. We are mainly on the side-line, not having the power to be a part of decision-making.”

Laja encouraged participants to “continue the conversations on Convention 190, and deepen understanding of this international instrument as a tool to eliminate harassment and violence in the workplace.”

“Let us continue co-operating with the government of Qatar in order to get this convention translated into concrete policies and programmes,” she said.

“We are envisioning a training programme that will result in more active participation of women in migrant community organisations, more women leaders getting elected into office and the institution of internal policies within our own organisations against gender discrimination and violence,” Laja added.

An African participant introduced herself as an “activist for women and I try to be a voice for the voiceless” while a participant from the Philippines stated “I am a solo parent to six children and I am strong as a parent and a leader of our community here in Qatar”.

Through a phone patch, BWI’s Global Campaigns director Jin Sook Lee conveyed her message of solidarity to the women leaders in attendance, sharing a few points on the work of BWI in Qatar and the initiative to galvanise the solidarity of women migrant workers in the construction and other sectors.

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