EOC Launches Citywide Publicity Campaign on Protection against Breastfeeding Discrimination and Harassment
Starting from 19 June 2021, women in Hong Kong will be protected from discrimination and harassment on the grounds of breastfeeding under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The relevant amendments to the Ordinance were made through the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) 2020 and the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, passed by the Legislative Council in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
To publicise the new protections, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has launched a citywide publicity campaign featuring an advertisement across 60 MTR stations from 19 June to 2 July 2021. It will be followed by the release of TV and radio APIs (Announcements in Public Interest) and the distribution of information booklets.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, "We believe with the launching of our publicity campaign, more people will understand the enhanced legal protection for breastfeeding women. The amended law would be conducive to creating a more breastfeeding-friendly environment and supportive societal attitude for breastfeeding women to continue their full and equal social and economic participation, including staying in or rejoining the workforce while breastfeeding.”
The diverse health benefits of breastfeeding for both the babies and their mothers are well documented globally. It is also relevant to note that, given more families in Hong Kong are aware of those benefits, there are growing numbers of women in Hong Kong who breastfeed their children after giving birth.
Mr Chu added, “There are also benefits to businesses of creating breastfeeding-friendly workplaces. Breastfeeding-friendly measures in workplaces can encourage women to return to work sooner, and reduce the turnover of female employees, as they are more likely to stay with the same employer. Furthermore, studies have indicated that as breastfed children are healthier, the parents take less leave to care for their sick children. As a result, the productivity of female employees may be increased where effective breastfeeding policies in workplaces are introduced.”
Under the Sex discrimination Ordinance, breastfeeding is defined as where: (i) a woman is breastfeeding a child; (ii) a woman is expressing breast milk; or (iii) a woman feeds a child with her breast milk, but is not doing so when the relevant act is committed. Breastfeeding discrimination and harassment is unlawful in various areas of public life, such as employment; education; provision of goods, facilities or services; and disposal or management of premises.
The EOC has already released a series of guidance and leaflets online earlier on, so that employers, providers of goods, facilities and services, as well as other stakeholders can get prepared and put in place necessary polices to comply with the law.
To know more about the enhanced legal protection for breastfeeding women, members of the public can make reference to the “Guidance and Leaflet on Breastfeeding Discrimination and Harassment in Employment and Related Sectors” and the poster advertisement. The leaflets are also available in other languages in the EOC website.
Equal Opportunities Commission
18 June 2021