The DAB Women Affairs Committee (“the Committee”) held a roundtable discussion —“Gender Mainstreaming — Promoting Gender Equality and Eliminating Discrimination against Women” — in the Legislative Council Complex today (October 4). The discussion was chaired by Committee Chairperson and Legislative Councilor Elizabeth Quat. Guest speakers included Women’s Commission Chairperson Ms Chan Yuen-han, Hong Kong Women Development Ltd. Vice Chairperson Ms Au Yeung Po-chun, Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association Chief Executive Ms Wu Mei-lin, Director of Policy, Research and Training of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) Dr. Ferrick Chu and Chinese University of Hong Kong Gender Research Centre Co-Director Prof. Siumi Tam. Together they shared many valuable view on how to eliminate gender discrimination and inequality from the environment, policies, laws and system and the workplace.
Committee Chairperson Elizabeth Quat pointed out that even though the status and rights of women in the HKSAR are not too bad in comparison with the rest of the world, the number of women board of directors, government officials, legislative and district councilors show that the current government laws and policies regarding women do not mean full equality or the absence of discrimination. In equal pay for equal work, workplace sexual harassment, sexual violence, treatment of pregnant or breastfeeding mothers or support in helping women get pregnant after a certain age, current laws, policies and measures protecting the rights of women and ensuring equality are insufficient. If society hopes to unleash women’s potentials and contributions, it must do its utmost in eliminating discrimination against women, promote gender equality, for the harmonious and healthy development of society.
Ms Chan Yuen-han (chairperson of the Women’s Commission) criticised the fact that the HKSAR does not have sufficient family-friendly policies. She proposed that more resources are allocated for improving child care services; implementation of flexible working hours, concern for women’s health, and measures in relieving the stress and pressure imposed on women. Another proposal is to increase the women makeup in advisory and statutory bodies from 35% to 40% and urge companies to appoint a woman into their board of directors.
Ms Au Yeung Po-chun (Hong Kong Women Development Ltd. Vice Chairperson), proposed many family-friendly policies including extending maternity leave to 14 weeks, paternity leave, parental leave and standard working hours. Also, she proposed that the ratio of female councilors in LegCo should reflect the gender ratio in order to ensure that women are represented and their voices heard.
Ms Wu Mei-lin (Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association) pointed out the problem of having more women live in poverty, equal pay for equal work and the effect that family caretaker roles have on women. She made proposals on mainstreaming gender equality such as increasing funding for the Women’s Commission’s work on gender mainstreaming work, and strengthening training and public education in society.
Dr. Ferrick Chu (Director of Policy, Research and Training of the EOC) explained the protections provided by the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the areas that the Ordinance still doesn’t govern, such as discrimination against pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexual harassment in share working space, etc.
Professor Siumi Tam (Chinese University of Hong Kong Gender Research Centre Co-Director) emphasised that the roles women play in education and society, and their political participation should not be set by society. Real change can only happen by the interaction of all social systems, so to enable gender diversification, filling the gap between personal views and gender mainstreaming.
Chairperson Elizabeth Quat concluded that government policy, laws and the social environment have not done enough to protect the rights of women, eliminate discrimination and ensure gender equality. She urges the government to proactively work on ensuring gender equality. DAB will work the valuable views expressed by speaker into formulating policy proposals and will, through various channels, to fight for gender equality measures by the government.
Media Inquiries: Legislative Councilor Elizabeth Quat (9031 7995)