International Women’s Day

Promoting gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in Qatar

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2023, Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and the ILO Office in Qatar have engaged in a series of activities with workers, employers, and university students to promote awareness on diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace.

News | 09 March 2023

Consultations with the private sector

In October 2022, 14 elected representatives of joint worker-management committees from six enterprises in the transport, security, facilities management, and real estate sectors participated in a pilot training on ILO Convention on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958 (No. 111) and the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190).
Following this training, some of these joint committees were invited to undertake a risk assessment and to identify practical workplace measures (policies, declarations, codes of conduct, trainings) to prevent, address and remedy discrimination and violence and harassment. These discussions were facilitated by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) and the ILO.

During the policy review process, companies paid special attention to addressing the vulnerable position of their suppliers’ employees (such as security guards), as well as the risk of third-party violence at the hands of clients or customers.

These consultations put the employee participation rights of information and consultation of elected worker representatives in action, and enabled joint committees to concretely participate in policy reviews and amendments alongside company management.

Discussing diversity, equality, and inclusion in higher education in Qatar

In the context of a much broader partnership with Qatar University (QU)’s College of Business and Economics to mainstream human rights into the College’s curriculum, in February 2023, the MOL and the ILO facilitated a three-day workshop on diversity, equality, and inclusion policies with students, faculty and staff representatives of QU and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU).

During this workshop, students, staff and faculty reflected on the desired diversity, equality and inclusion policy scope, accessibility, grievance timeline, and confidentiality among several other aspects.

Consultation with working women

Throughout 2022, the ILO was invited by the Ministry of Labour to facilitate discussions with private enterprises around a mix of active labour market and gender equality policies to increase female labour participation in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. One important starting point for policy consultations at the ILO is to enhance women’s equal participation and voice in social dialogue at the enterprise, sectoral, and national levels. These consultations must be inclusive of all women, regardless of nationality, profession, and skill level.

Qatar Foundation’s women’s sub-committee

In February 2023, Qatar Foundation (QF) joined the ILO and the Ministry of Labour to organize elections and form the country’s first women-only sub-committee comprised of 19 women employed in seven of QF’s contractors. Prior to the establishment of the sub-committee, over 200 female suppliers working across QF’s Education City were invited to discuss some of the challenges women face in their workplaces including discrimination, harassment, unequal access to services, limited learning and development opportunities, etc.

The sub-committee is a part of the broader QF Central Labour Management Consultation Committee (CLMCC) that is comprised of the chairpersons and deputies of all joint committees across QF’s suppliers. The CLMCC stands to address collective issues that span multiple supplier companies working in QF. Within the CLMCC, the women’s sub-committee is mandated to address gender-specific issues.

Members of the newly formed sub-committee received a training on 27 February 2023 on the social dialogue structure and procedures within QF, and looked into best practices sub-committee members should adopt when receiving and acting upon complaints and issues raised by their peers. During the training, the sub-committee members elected their Chairperson and Secretary who will be representing them in the CLMCC meetings.

Anthea Ajenifuja, Chairperson of the women’s sub-committee and Welfare and Employee Relations Officer at Al Asmakh A to Z.

A roundtable discussion on gender, equality, and inclusion

On 21 February 2023, 14 women from a number of joint committees across the private sector in Qatar participated in a roundtable discussion on gender, equality, and inclusion. This discussion touched on various subjects relevant to women professionals including recruitment and job mobility, job benefits, care responsibilities and access to healthcare. The roundtable will meet on a quarterly basis.

Seminar on digital economy, decent work, and sustainable development

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” With the emerging digital economy, more and more women entered the world of work through digital labour platforms globally, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the economic and social inequalities that women face in the workplace are migrating to the digital economy. Digital labour platforms are prone to several decent work deficits that make mainstreaming labour rights into business plans from conception a priority.

On 4 March 2023, the MOL and the ILO facilitated a seminar on Digital Economy, Decent Work, and Sustainable Development to over 100 female students at QU’s College of Business and Economics (CBE). Discussions focussed on the impact of digital economy and digital labour platforms on the world of work, as well as on the importance of considering the promotion of decent work when writing and evaluating a business plan for a digital labour platform – especially from a gender perspective.

The session included a presentation from Shaima Sheriff, QU’s CBE student, who developed a business plan for a digital labour platform based in Qatar. The students made recommendations as to how decent work and other SDGs should be mainstreamed into her business model, recruitment strategy, and branding.