EOC holds sharing session on men’s plights and way out
“Men in Hong Kong are bound by traditional stereotypes to be the main breadwinner. Many men face emotional problems as their jobs come under threat,” said Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), at a sharing session on men’s plights today (25 August 2012).
The sharing session, organized by the EOC, drew the attendance of some 100 stakeholders, who discussed the hardships faced by men in Hong Kong nowadays and exchanged views on how to empower them. The sharing session was to follow up on the EOC’s “Exploratory Study on Gender Stereotyping and Its Impact on Male Gender” which was released in May this year.
Mr. LAM said, “In the face of Hong Kong’s social and economic transformation, the roles and status of both women and men are going through continuous adjustment. While our society continues to promote women’s status, it is important to understand men’s pressure and needs through their changing circumstances.
“Hong Kong’s male unemployment rate is much higher than that of their female counterparts. Middle-aged men with low educational qualifications have fewer job opportunities than women of similar background. Social problems faced by women, such as being a single parent family and domestic violence, are increasingly prevalent among men. Alarmingly, the suicide rate of men in Hong Kong is almost twice that of women,” elaborated Mr. LAM.
“Although men are more likely to face stress related to work and family, they are less likely to seek help compared with women. Most of the existing social services such as counseling and medical services tend to neglect men who need this kind of support as much as women.”
“Both men and women should receive equal support, both medically and socially. The EOC strongly urges the government to develop gender-sensitive social service policies and take differences between the sexes into consideration in developing these policies. These include setting up male specialist clinics, counseling services for men, shelters for abused men and introducing sex-equality education in schools,” emphasized Mr. LAM.
Facilitated by Dr. John TSE Wing-ling, Deputy Convenor of the Policy and Research Committee of the EOC, the first session’s panelists included Professor Winton AU, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Mr. John WONG of the Hong Kong Men’s Concern Group; and Mr. LAI Wai-lun, Supervisor of Caritas Personal Growth Centre for Men. The second session panelists were Professor CHOI Susanne Yuk-ping, Director, Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Dr. Hon PAN Pey-chyou, Member of the Legislative Council; Mr. Moses MUI, Chief Officer (Family and Community Services) of Hong Kong Council of Social Service; and Dr. Simon CHAN, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work of Hong Kong Baptist University.
The participants shared their views on men’s hardships in matters related to finance, health, marriage and family role, etc. The panelists proposed strategies to address men’s problems which included enhancing employees retraining services for men; strengthening social services for divorced men to cope with mental stress, housing needs and breakdown of relationships; setting up a special helpline for men; and enhancing supportive services for fathers to meet with their needs in parenting and work-life balance, etc.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
25 August 2012