January 2014 Issue
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The Lebanese Heritage
From British Columbia to the world...

January 2014 - Volume 2014, No.1


Recognizing the work of more than 200,000 invisible women who care for our loved ones in the homeland
By Marie-José L. Tayah , Ph.D. Candidate

Lebanese emigrants are celebrated for their many achievements in the diaspora. They are famed doctors, politicians, designers, artists, athletes, scientists, CEOs, and financiers. Emigrant remittances, accounting for nearly 20 percent of Lebanon's GDP, are critical for Lebanon’s economic survival against a backdrop of political instability.

Supporting this system is an invisible workforce of low skilled migrant women who take over emigrants’ routine family obligations.  Emigrants leave elderly mothers and fathers in the care of more than 200,000 women migrant domestic workers from Asia and Africa. These women clean and cook for them, administer their medicine and injections, lend them a helping hand during walks, showers, and visits to doctors, and listen affectionately to their concerns and aspirations. [1]Given their exclusion from labour protections and their willingness to work longer hours in return for meager wages, WMDWs constitute an easy and low cost solution to the Lebanese care deficit.

Nonetheless, migrant domestic workers earn less than half of average wages, experience long and unpredictable working hours, and remain excluded from national labour legislations.  In addition, domestic workers are prone to a variety of occupational injuries. The everyday pulling, pushing, and bending over induces repetitive strain injuries, and the long-term exposure to dust and cleaning products leads to respiratory illnesses. Furthermore, nursing the elderly and disabled without the assistance of other caregivers leads to debilitating musculoskeletal and chronic sleep disorders. Finally, low earning levels often mean that domestic workers cannot seek adequate treatment.

The case for reciprocity

Lebanese emigrants are afforded basic labour rights in the countries where they take up residence. To varying degrees, they enjoy non-discriminatory hiring practices, working conditions, pay, benefits, promotions, lay-offs and termination of employment. Why are women migrant domestic workers in Lebanon subject to different standards than those we seek for ourselves? Similar to Lebanon’s expatriates, these women leave their children and parents in the care of a local caregiver while they embark on more lucrative employment opportunities in the Middle East. They remit on average up to 70 per cent of their wages to educate children or siblings, build family homes, and finance basic household consumption.

A call for action

On June 16, 2011, the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization adopted Convention 189, known as the Domestic Workers Convention.  The Convention recognizes that domestic work is work and that domestic workers are, like other workers, entitled to decent work. Following its ratification by Bolivia, Guyana, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay, Convention 189 came into force on 5 September 2013.

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Story of the Month

The story of Mansour Challita (Late Secretary General of WLCU): 50 years of services rendered to Lebanon, to WLCU,and to Brazilian Culture.

To talk about the life of Mansour CHALLITA is to portray a love story. After going back and forth, this man of letters established his residence in Brazil, without forgetting his roots. The origin is unanimous: Mansour Challita is, for the last 50 years, the largest proponent of Gibran Khalil Gibran and the Arab world in Brazil MANSOUR CHALLITA, born in Colombia on December 24th, 1919, comes from Lebanese parents, Youssef and Adèle CHALLITA, with whom he left for Lebanon at one year of age. There, he completed primary and secondary school and received a Bachelors in French and Arabic literature along with one in French and Arabic philosophy from the Saint Joseph Jesuit University in Beirut. He then completed law courses in France and journalism courses in the United States. From 1948 to 1958, he practiced law and journalism in Beirut (Lebanon), sandwiching frequent trips in his activities. If CHALLITA studied law, it is because he had the intention of practicing this profession which is what he did for a while in Beirut. But he ended up being disappointed.

Read more >> | Read in Arabic >>

Quote of the Month

“Academic community members – teachers, students, and administrators - can use their freedom of speech to denounce 'non respectable' expression by showing them as they are: blatant disregard for the interests of others, rationalization of selfishness or group interests, prejudices or pure hatred of humanity"
(Amy Gutmann defines in these terms one of the priority civic tasks of any university.)



Here, There and Yonder

  • Canadian Blood Services and the Lebanese Canadian Society of BC Announce Life-Saving Partnership
    Read more »

  • New redesigned website of Beirut office,launched on 29 DEC 2013
    Read more »
  • New website for the General Directorate of Emigrants at the Ministry of Foreign affairs
    Read more »

  • In honor of the Lebanese who landed at Pier 21 in Halifax.
    Read more »
  • Wadih M. Fares Wall of Tribute at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
    Read more »

Interviews & Profiles

  • Lebanese- Canadian Success story: Wadih Fares,a Community Developer in Every Sense of the Word
    Read more »
  • Profile of an active Lebanese-American Professor,Dr Akram Khater of North Carolina,USA.
    Read more »

Culture & Multiculturalism

Economy in Lebanon

  • Lebanese banks face prospects, challenges,By Sami Nader
    Read more »
  • Lebanon’s economic recovery depends on political stability
    Read more »

Lebanese Emigration

  • The Jews of Lebanon, History and Records: A large database and history of Lebanese Jewish families living in Lebanon until the 1980s, By Alain Farhi
    Read more »
  • The Canadian Diaspora: 40.000 Canadian-Lebanese in lebanon
    Read more »
  • Mr. Antonio Andary,Ambassador of Lebanon to Argentina Visits NDU,and Awards Dr. Guita Hourani (Director of LERC)
    Read more »

Roots and Wings

  • Lebanese Canadian Hockey player Nazem Kadri still earning ice time
    Read more »
  • Wadih Fares is one of two Nova Scotians named to the Order of Canada
    Read more »

Various Publications

WLCU Archives

  • Lebanese Canadian society of BC amended its constitution to became the WLCU-Vancouver chapter
    Read more »
  • Letter to Carlo Rahal (WLCU-BCcouncil President) from the Embassy of Lebanon, Ottawa. seeking information about the Lebanese Immigrants in canada
    Read more »
  • Dr Nick Kahwaji (Past WSG) speech in the opening day, and in the second day of Costa Rica World Council meeting
    Read more »

United Nations(UN) News

  • The WLCU/NGO committee support the C189 - Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers
    Read more »
  • Welcome the new President,His Excellency Martin Sajdik of Austria,was elected seventieth President of the ECOSOC Council on 14 January 2014.
    Read more »
  • United Nations Academic impact (January 2014 Newsletter)sharing a culture of intellectual social resposability
    Read more »

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