Domestic workers

“Thank you Soma - شكراَ صوما”: ILO documentary explores relationship between migrant domestic workers and Arab youth

On the occasion of International Migrants Day (18 December), the ILO will premiere a new documentary film that aims to change the narrative about migrant domestic workers in the Arab States region.

News | 17 December 2018
Beirut (ILO News) – On 18 December the ILO will premiere a documentary film “Thank you Soma” – which explores the story of Nour, a young woman, and Soma, the migrant domestic worker who raised her. Together they travel to Soma’s home village in Kandy, Sri Lanka, providing the opportunity for both to reflect on their relationship. The film is directed by Carol Mansour and jointly produced with Forward Film Production.

The premiere will include the film screening (55 minutes), panel discussion with the film’s main characters, director and ILO migration specialist, moderated by Diana Moukalled, and a reception with Sri Lankan food.

There are over 3.16 million migrant domestic workers in the Arab States region – more than a quarter of the global total number.

Despite being typically undervalued and not seen as ‘real work’, domestic work makes an enormous contribution to economies and societies – supporting the function of households, enabling greater female labour force participation, and providing vital care services for children, elderly and the disabled.

In spite of efforts to strengthen the legal and regulatory structures in the Arab States region, migrant domestic workers are remain vulnerable to exploitation. On the other hand poor working conditions may also be seen as a result of customary social norms – something the film hopes to challenge. For example, despite prohibited by laws, some employers continue to withhold workers’ wages and passports, prevent the worker from having weekly rest, or disregard maximum daily working hours.

The film is the real story of Nour and Soma, and has been produced without a pre-designed script, allowing the story to unfold in a genuine way. A communications package will support film screenings and discussion sessions amongst school, university and community groups across the region.

Premiere of Thank you Soma
Date: Tuesday 18 December
Time: 08:30pm
Location: Empire Metropolis Cinema, Sofil Centre, Ashrafiyyeh, Beirut
For more information contact: Ms Salwa Kanaana, ILO Regional Communication & Public Information Officer,, +961-01 752 400