EOC releases findings of Equal Opportunities Awareness Survey 2021
An overwhelming 90% of the public believes that ensuring reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities (PWDs) and combatting sexual harassment are important areas for future work on equal opportunity, according to findings of the Equal Opportunities Awareness Survey 2021 unveiled by the EOC on 11 November 2021.
The territory-wide representative survey was carried out between February and April 2021, with a sample of 1,501 respondents aged 15 or above interviewed on telephone. It marks the sixth edition of a series of similar surveys conducted by the EOC since 1998, aimed at gauging public perceptions of equal opportunity issues and the Commission’s work.
Notably, 92.5% of the respondents considered it very or quite important to urge the Government to amend the Disability Discrimination Ordinance by introducing a distinct duty to provide reasonable accommodation for PWDs. This was precisely one of the higher priority recommendations the EOC made to the Government in the 2016 Discrimination Law Review report. As the survey has revealed further evidence of a strong consensus for legislative reform, the EOC submits that the Government should take forward the recommendation to demonstrate its commitment to facilitating equal participation of PWDs in key areas of life.
A majority of the respondents also accorded importance to work that encourages businesses and organisations to formulate anti-sexual harassment policies and a complaint-handling mechanism (91.0%), as well as advocacy for reform of sexuality education in primary and secondary schools to raise awareness of issues relating to sexual harassment among young people (90.3%). The sentiment echoes the EOC’s longstanding commitment to addressing sexual harassment, most recently manifested in the establishment of a dedicated Anti-Sexual Harassment Unit in November 2020. Tasked with operating an enquiry hotline, offering cross-sector training, and conducting research on law and policy reform, the Unit is well positioned to meet the needs of the community as reflected in the survey.
When it comes to knowledge about the anti-discrimination ordinances currently in force, 40.7% and 44.3% of the respondents mistakenly thought, respectively, that sexual orientation and age were protected characteristics under the ordinances. In relation to age discrimination, it is significant that almost half of the respondents (49.9%) considered it very or quite prevalent in Hong Kong. Further, among those who reportedly experienced discrimination or harassment within the 12 months prior to the interview, a considerable proportion (54.3%) said they had been subject to age discrimination. Therefore, it would be advisable for the Government to consider gathering more empirical data regarding the prevalence of age discrimination through regular and large-scale surveys, as well as consulting the public on legislating against discrimination based on age.
For a fuller understanding of the survey’s findings and the EOC’s recommendations, download our infographics and research report at the links below.