Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Social protection in the Gulf countries: what rights can migrant workers access?

Time (GMT +00) 13:00 14:15
Image credit:Storekeeper in Qatar. ILO 2022 Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To watch the event, click on the button below

Watch live now


Social protection is an often-overlooked aspect of workers’ wellbeing. It ensures access to healthcare and time off when sick or pregnant, fair compensation when injured at work, and financial security for workers and their families when employment ends, due to old age, disability or death.

Globally, migrant workers frequently have some of the lowest rates of access to social protection, due to both legal and practical barriers. Such challenges are clearly present in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, which has the highest proportion of migrants in the workforce of any region in the world.

Effective action to improve workers’ protection requires robust evidence on the current state of social protection provisions. Yet there has been a historic lack of data on migrants’ access to social protection in the GCC countries, making it difficult to understand actual coverage for migrant workers.

Organised in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Regional Office for Arab States, this online event will share new findings of a first-of-its-kind comprehensive report on migrant workers’ access to social protection across the GCC countries - Social protection for migrant workers in countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC): A regional mapping of provisions on paper and in practice - prepared by ILO, ODI, and IOM.

In addition, we will share the findings of a 2023 survey (by ILO, ODI and NISER) with 1,000 Nepali migrant worker returnees from the GCC, which offers in-depth insights on each aspect of social protection and the factors enabling and hindering access to rights in practice.

While governments in the region bear the overall responsibility for ensuring social protection for migrant workers living and working in their territories, improved protection requires engagement from many actors - in the GCC and internationally - including: employers, country of origin governments, recruitment agencies, civil society, academia, trade unions and migrant workers themselves.

This event will convene a high-level panel of actors and experts working on migrant rights in the GCC to share knowledge on – and inform – policy reforms and advocacy in this space. It aims to share new evidence and insights with the wide-ranging actors involved in supporting the rights of migrant workers.

This event will be hosted by ODI in collaboration with the ILO, and with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

It builds on ODI’s work with ILO on Extending Social Protection to Migrant Workers: Exploratory Research and Policy Dialogue in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries (ilo.org).

Live interpretation in Arabic will be available for this event.

تتوفر الترجمة الفورية إلى اللغة العربية في هذا الاجتماع.


  • Christy Lowe (Chair)

    Research Associate specialising in Social Protection, ODI

  • Jessica Hagen-Zanker

    Senior Research Fellow (Migration), ODI

  • Lea Bou Khater

    Social Protection Technical Officer, ILO Arab States

  • Luca Pellerano

    Senior Social Protection Specialist, ILO

  • Patricia Barandun

    Head of Section Migration and Forced Displacement, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

  • Shabib Abdullah Al-Busaidi

    Social Insurance Expert, Social Protection Fund, Government of Oman.

  • Shahra Razavi

    Director of the Social Protection Department, ILO

  • Steffen Hertog

    Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, Department of Government, LSE

  • Tanja Dedovic

    Regional Thematic Specialist on Labor Mobility and Human Development, IOM

  • Vani Saraswathi

    Editor-at-Large and Director of Projects at Migrant-rights.org

  • Zahra Babar

    Associate Director for Research at CIRS at Georgetown University in Qatar.