EOC Launches MTR Advertising Campaign Titled “Say No to Breastfeeding Discrimination”
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) launched an MTR advertising campaign titled “Say No to Breastfeeding Discrimination” to explain how anti-discrimination law protects women in Hong Kong from discrimination and harassment based on breastfeeding in support of the annual celebration of the World Breastfeeding Week from 1 to 7 August.
With the relevant amendments to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) that came into force on 19 June 2021, women in Hong Kong are protected from discrimination and harassment on the grounds of breastfeeding under the SDO. The protections cover key areas of public life, such as 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 protections from discrimination and harassment for breastfeeding women under the SDO, an MTR advertising campaign titled “Say No to Breastfeeding Discrimination” has been launched by the EOC. It features large posters across 60 MTR stations from 29 July 2022 to 18 August 2022. Easily understandable examples are used in the advertisement to explain the law so that members of the public can have a better grasp of the protections. The advertisement features scenarios of potentially unlawful discrimination that breastfeeding women may encounter when accessing services, at work, and when using facilities. The three scenarios depict, respectively, a restaurant customer being asked by the waiter to leave while breastfeeding a child; a female employee being denied her bonus by her supervisor because she pumps milk during working hours; and a visitor in a shopping mall being told by the security guard that breastfeeding in public is indecent and that she needs to stop.
The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in the first week of August to promote public awareness and support of breastfeeding. The theme this year is “Step up for Breastfeeding Educate and Support”. Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “I am very supportive of the theme this year. All employers, as well as providers of goods, facilities and services, should be mindful not to discriminate against or harass women on the grounds of breastfeeding. They are encouraged to create a breastfeeding-friendly environment, such as formulating written policies to support breastfeeding employees and customers, implementing flexible work arrangements, allowing changes in working hours, providing breaks and arranging temporary deployment as far as practicable.”
Mr Chu added, “There are also plenty of benefits to businesses of creating breastfeeding-friendly workplaces. Breastfeeding-friendly measures 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.”
The relevant TV Announcement in the Public Interests (APIs) are being broadcast on various television channels. They have been uploaded onto the EOC website and the EOC YouTube channel. The videos are available in Cantonese, Putonghua and English. Three different types of sign language are available for the above-mentioned three videos. 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 Booklet on Breastfeeding Discrimination and Harassment in Employment and Related Sectors; Guidance and Booklet on Breastfeeding Discrimination and Harassment in Other Sectors or poster produced by the EOC. The booklets are available in Chinese, English and ten other languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi, Sinhala, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese.
Equal Opportunities Commission
1 August 2022