Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) was launched in 2010 as a grassroots collective by young Lebanese feminist activists in collaboration with migrant workers and migrant domestic workers, following a racist incident at one of Beirut’s most well-known private beach resorts (Sporting Club). ARM activists, using a hidden camera, filmed the administration’s blatant acts of discrimination and segregation. The video quickly spread online, and ARM’s efforts to bring this issue to light were lauded by many. Interest grew in this small volunteer-based movement, members increased, and our projects grew in scope and scale. In 2012, ARM became a registered NGO with full and part-time staff in order to increase its capacity to carry out more projects to fight racist discrimination and abuse in Lebanon. Building on our philosophy that recognizes the importance of community-building work, ARM created the Migrant Community Centers (MCCs) which grew from one small center in 2011 in Beirut to centers in three major cities by 2016, in addition to a Sunday educational space.
We do most of our work through the centers in direct collaboration with migrant workers, especially migrant domestic workers. The MCCs are free and safe spaces tailored to migrant workers and evolving according to their needs, where they can meet, learn new skills, work together, and access information, resources and assistance. Since their creation, they have been offering free classes and other educational, social, and capacity-building activities, such as language classes, computer classes, health awareness sessions, rights education, advocacy training, cultural exchange events, social gatherings, and various holiday celebrations. The MCCs also serve as a hub where initiatives are launched, a space to have celebrations and get-togethers, and a casual space for migrant workers to spend time with each other. MCC’s operations are run by general coordinators and migrant community leaders, in collaboration with members of ARM.
ARM’s mission is to decrease racist discrimination and abuse in Lebanon on the social and institutional levels by advocating for changes in the systems that perpetuate racist exploitative practices, through sensitization, awareness raising, advocacy, and community building for more just social and institutional frameworks in Lebanon. The main focus of this work is on migrant domestic workers and to a lesser extent on all migrant workers. The MCCs’ mission is to make meaningful improvements in the quality of life of migrant workers in Lebanon and their capacity to self-advocate to advance their socio-economic rights, and to contribute to a strong and powerful migrant civil society, with a focus on women as leaders of change.
Our main fields of intervention in Lebanon include working with migrant dometic workers (MDWs), migrant workers (MWs), Sudanese refugees, children of migrant domestic workers, relevant governmental ministries and policymakers, media institutions, schools, universities, civil society/international/intergovernmental organizations, local activists, and more broadly influencing the general population through our advocacy campaigns and activities. The main strategies we use in our intervention include: providing resources that sustain MDW community networks and support/empower MWs, MDW activists & MDW-centered initiatives; mobilizing collaboration between local activists and MDWs; developing strong advocacy activities and campaigns for structural change; and collaborating with media, researchers, and educational institutions against racist abuse and exploitation in Lebanon.
Our theory of change shifts the positionality of migrant workers from beneficiaries and recipients of services to leaders and agents of social change in Lebanon. The MCCs provide the space, tools, resources, and capacity for MWs to self-organize and lead awareness and rights-based campaigns in order to help end discrimination and exploitation, and guarantee protection, rights, and access to justice. In parallel, ARM’s advocacy efforts tackle social issues related to racism, and aim to shift social norms by stigmatizing undesirable attitudes and behaviors, and building support for policy change.