EOC Launches New TV and Radio Announcements in the Public Interest Titled “End Discrimination against Breastfeeding Women”
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) announced today (1 August 2021) that a new series of TV and radio Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) titled “End Discrimination against Breastfeeding Women” will begin to broadcast tomorrow (2 August 2021). Furthermore, in support of the annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), the EOC has rolled out publicity campaigns on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages to explain how anti-discrimination law protects women in Hong Kong from discrimination and harassment based on breastfeeding, and to engage Facebook users to show support for breastfeeding.
Starting from 19 June 2021, all women in Hong Kong are protected from discrimination and harassment on the grounds of breastfeeding under the amended Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO). The protection covers employment; education; provision of goods, facilities and services; disposal or management of premises, clubs and government, etc. Under the SDO, a breastfeeding woman includes: (i) a woman who is breastfeeding a child; (ii) a woman who is expressing breast milk; or (iii) a woman who feeds a child with her breast milk, but is not doing so when the relevant act is committed.
To enhance public awareness of the amendments to the SDO, a MTR advertising campaign was launched on 19 June 2021, followed by TV and radio APIs in which easily understandable examples are used to explain the law so that the public can have a better grasp of the amendments. The TV APIs feature three scenarios of unlawful discrimination that breastfeeding women may encounter when accessing services, in the course of employment, and when using facilities. The three respective scenarios describe a breastfeeding woman dining in a restaurant is asked to leave by the restaurant waiter; a female employee is denied good attendance bonus by her supervisor because she always pumps milk in working hours; and a woman breastfeeding in a shopping mall is asked by a security guard to stop doing so because she feels that it is indecent.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “We hope that the public can understand the enhanced legal protection for breastfeeding women through different publicity initiatives. The amended law is 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, and breastfeeding in public places.”
WBW is celebrated every year in the first week of August to promote public awareness on and supporting of breastfeeding. The theme for this year is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”. Mr CHU said, “I am very supportive of the theme this year. All employers, as well as providers of goods, facilities and services, have the responsibility for protecting women from discrimination and harassment on grounds of breastfeeding. In addition to providing appropriate breastfeeding and lactation facilities and equipment, they should create a breastfeeding-friendly environment for breastfeeding women, such as formulating written policies to support breastfeeding, implementing flexible work arrangements, allowing change in working time, providing additional breaks or arranging temporary deployment.”
To echo WBW 2021, the EOC has launched a publicity initiative on its Facebook page, running from now until 12 August 2021. One major highlight is a campaign inviting Facebook users to upload a photo of the written slogan #SupportBreastfeeding (#我撐母乳餵哺) or another self-created hashtag to voice their support for breastfeeding women. Alternatively, netizens can recommend breastfeeding-friendly places in their comments. A series of visual explainers is also in the pipeline, breaking down the SDO’s protections against breastfeeding discrimination and harassment into bite-size posts with examples.
The TV APIs titled “End Discrimination against Breastfeeding Women” will be broadcast starting from 2 August 2021 (tomorrow) on various channels of free TV, pay TV and RTHK TV. The radio APIs will be broadcast on various channels of three radio stations, namely RTHK, Commercial Radio and Metro Broadcast. The TV APIs have been uploaded onto the EOC website and the EOC YouTube channel. The videos are available in Cantonese, Putonghua and English with sign language interpretation. Members of the public can view the videos through the above channels.
To learn more about how the law protects women from breastfeeding discrimination and harassment, please refer to the guidance and booklets on breastfeeding discrimination and harassment or poster produced by the EOC. Versions of other languages of these materials will be uploaded in due course.
Equal Opportunities Commission
1 August 2021