Diverse and inclusive communities can show great compassion, strength & creativity in the face of crises. Join our #IWD2021 event to hear from women who have been committed to responding to the pandemic and supporting those in need. Our partner IMIX has captured the inspiring stories of Marissa Begonia, Loraine Mponela and Haleleh Taheri. Read more here, get inspired and sign up to the event! 

The Resilience of Migrant Women During the Pandemic

Tuesday 16 March, 3-4pm





Marissa Begonia is the Founder and Director of The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW), a self-organised group campaigning for justice and rights for Britain’s migrant domestic workers. Marissa is a mother and a domestic worker herself. VODW also provides educational activities and support to community organising for domestic workers. The group also help domestic workers stuck in abusive working relations to flee and find safety. During lockdown, VODW has set-up a funding appeal to financially support members whose contacts were terminated, lost their jobs and infected by the deadly virus.


"The problem about exploitative domestic work is bigger than heartless employers. We have a system that tied Domestic Workers that facilitates abuse and doesn’t value domestic work as work. We want everybody to value and recognise domestic workers as workers’’. Marissa Begonia


Marissa decided to migrate from the Philippines to Singapore to build a decent future for her three children, whom she had to leave behind. She recalls this as “the most difficult and painful decision” of her life, but she was determined to prevent them from ending up begging around Manila’s street. After leaving the Philippines, she worked as domestic worker in Singapore and Hongkong, but found herself repeatedly in abusive working situations: “I suffered different forms of abusive including unpaid wages, no day off and sexual harassment”. Marissa managed to escape: “I was brought to the UK by my employer through an Overseas Domestic Worker Visa that, over the time, enabled me to leave that abusive employer, rebuild a new life and settle here in the UK. Above all, she says this enabled her “to fulfil the dream of being reunited with my children here in the UK”. Marissa insists: “Domestic Work is decent work though this profession I was able to provide my children a decent life”. 

Find out more about Marissa's story and The Voice of Domestic Violence


Halaleh Taheri is Founder and Executive Director of Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation (MEWSo), who set up 11 years ago in North of London. Halaleh is a freedom fighter of revolution of Iran, a women rights activists and a speaker for campaigns to ban virginity tests and on polygamy matters. She is also a member of the Step Up for Migrant Women coalition in London, a trustee of Community Plan for Holloway Women Prison in Islington, and the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Health Forum in Westminster. MEWSo supports Middle Eastern, North African and Asian women in London to rebuild their lives.

Find out more about the Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation.


Loraine Masiya Mponela is a community organiser and migrant rights campaigner. She is a member and current chairperson for Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG), a grassroot community group run by and for people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants. Loraine is originally from Malawi.

Find out more about the Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group.


Nada Al-Ahdal (born February 2, 2002) is a human rights activist and a resident of Yemen known for escaping two different child marriage pacts which her parents had arranged it for her. In 2013, she posted a YouTube video decrying child marriage showcasing her story and her experience in being forced into marriage contracts, which quickly went viral and prompted coverage of Yemen’s continued practice of child marriage. She managed to influence The Yemeni Constitution to pass and apply the law criminalizing the marriage of minors under the age of 18, and that is after launching her first video to rally the international media to denounce the marriage of minors.


"Educating a child will empower a generation, and educating a generation will create a great civilized society". 
Nada Al-Ahdal



From a victim to a human rights activist, Nada turned into a praised human right activits, these are some achievements of the awareness campaign she has held throughout her life:  

Nada was appointed as Head of the Rights Department in the National Tuhama Council of Yemen.


Halima Begum is Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust. She has held senior leadership positions across policy, programmes and research with a range of organisations including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the British Council and LEGO Foundation. 
Halima’s experience spans education, equality, human rights, public health, the environment and post-conflict reconstruction. Her portfolio of responsibilities has included leading the Sino-British Action Plan on food insecurity, the UK effort to promote girls’ education in Pakistan, and research collaborations between higher education institutions in Britain and Asia. She began her career as a policy analyst on the Commission for a Multi-Ethnic Britain, before joining Action Aid and the LSE Centre for Civil Society.
As a disabled Muslim woman raised in London, Halima is a lifelong campaigner for equality and civil rights. In the early 1990s, she co-founded Women Against Racism to combat the rising incidence of racial and religious intolerance in the East End. Today, she chairs the UK Women’s Environmental Network and sits on the board of various organisations including Toynbee Hall, the Ella Baker School of Organising and the Labour Campaign for Human Rights. Find out more about Runnymede Trust.




For any information please contact asoleiman@iom.int 


"Migration is one of the key realities of our time. It cuts across communities, influences priorities, and shapes societies.
To realise the benefits of migration for migrants and host communities alike, our responses must be innovative, collaborative and designed beyond the immediate."


Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of Mission of the IOM UK Office