ABU DHABI // Today is a celebration of women's achievements but some have chosen to honour others' contributions.
Labor of Love UAE has partnered with ETA Ascon's welfare department to celebrate International Women's Day with the workers at MBM, a facilities management company. The majority are cleaning staff who are from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
"Their continued service to us and contribution to their families and communities back home should not go unnoticed," said Angel Wesley, an American lawyer for a private company in Abu Dhabi who runs the charity.
"We all owe our gratitude to them for the thankless jobs they do, which make our lives easier and better in a lot of ways."
Like their male counterparts, the women have given up the comforts of family and a familiar culture to move away from their homes to a new country, she said.
Year-round, the charity gives female workers a break by planning activities to enrich their lives and enjoy time with others.
International Women's Day reminds women of their right to the freedoms and opportunities that allow them to pursue their ambitions, said Rita Mayer, founder of Libraries for Labor Camps.
"For the ladies in our labour camps, we commemorate this day with them to show them our support and encouragement that they may achieve these goals," she said.
"Showing our labourers appreciation helps give them validation and affirmation of their value in our society. Gratitude is a great way to impart dignity to those who are doing work that at times may feel undignified."
Babs Klijn, founder of Feel Great Helping, an informal network of volunteers that helps charities, shares the same view.
"International Women's Day provides a chance to celebrate hard-working women, whose strength and love for their families back home drives them to work in a foreign country, often away from their own children," she said.
Feel Great Helping ran one of the games organised by Labor of Love UAE at the West Coast ladies' camp in Mussafah last Friday.
"My desire to give back to this wonderful community that led me to get involved in volunteering and helping those who are less fortunate than me," said Ms Klijn, an Abu Dhabi resident for two years.
The non-profit Abu Dhabi Cause Connect is celebrating International Women's Day with a Pink Pilates class to honour breast cancer survivors in the UAE.
"It's very important to encourage and empower women to be strong, healthy, energised, and inspiring to be the leaders in the world," said Taghrid Khoury, a breast cancer survivor and a Pink Pilates instructor.
She offers free Pilates classes twice a month to breast cancer patients and survivors at her home studio.
"We celebrate and honour the inspirational women who have shown great strength and commitment raising nationwide awareness about breast cancer," said Mame Diop, a co-founder of the charity.
Members of the UAE branch of Gabriela, a Filipino women's rights group, are celebrating International Women's Day for the second year in Dubai.
About half of the 58 members are housemaids. To mark the occasion, there will be discussions to help women realise their worth and role in society, the various forms of violence against women and ways to prevent them.
"We'd like to let our women, particularly the domestic helpers, feel they're important," said Ana Marasigan, a member of the group. "They also need to know their rights as women and as migrant workers."
The group provides counselling, mostly to housemaids, who have suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse in the hands of their employers. It also runs sessions for housemaids and office workers about violence against women.