EOC Calls for Improved Childcare Facilities and Training Programs for Women
Attending the meeting at the United Nations on the five-year review of the Government's commitments on the Beijing Platform for Action, Ms. Anna WU Hung-yuk, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) said, "The EOC has submitted an NGO report to United Nations covering six areas."
Commenting on the Report Ms. WU said, "Women don't want to receive welfare, they want to get jobs. For them to do so, Government must provide support services such as improved childcare facilities and training programs.
"Work gives a person dignity and raises the woman's self-esteem. To make it possible, childcare facilities should be established where women live, where they work, and where they receive vocational training. Hours of service should be flexible so they can fit the needs of working women who may do shift work. Costs should be set so it's affordable. Training must be provided for women to get into different fields, not just ones with the lowest pay."
Ms. WU continued to comment on the importance of the social philosophy behind the establishment of the childcare centres. "Appropriate pre-school education should be taught to improve the quality of the care and to facilitate the integration with the normal school system. Government as the largest employer in Hong Kong should be a role model and provide childcare centres for their employees. Government should assist employers to establish childcare centres for their employees by giving expert advice as well as subsidies, loans or tax incentives for infrastructure changes."
"With the continuing growth of dotcom companies, more money should be put into training programs to help women develop skills to go into these jobs. Continuing education programs to help women fit into the labour pool needs of today and tomorrow's industries must also be affordable."
With the economic restructuring and downturn, the number of persons at or below the poverty line has increased 67.4% to 360,000. With the increase of divorce rate to 20% from 9% a decade ago, there is an alarming growth of numbers of poor families headed by divorced women.
A non-governmental report to the United Nations was submitted by the EOC covering six areas. On Education & Training, the EOC asked the Government to remove gender bias on all levels of education; urged the abolition of the Corroborative Rule and the review of the legal position on marital rape in the area of Violence Against Women. The Report asked for the development of strategies to address the needs of women in poverty and recommended that the Government review and establish adequate health services for women of all ages.
The EOC called for the Government to appoint more women to advisory committees and statutory bodies and to implement gender equality in rural elections. For improving the portrayal of women in the media and in advertisements, the EOC asked that Government ensure the development of a self-regulatory framework within the media industry that would be gender sensitive.
On the establishment of a central mechanism on women's affairs, the EOC urged that the Women's Commission, currently under development, focus on gender mainstreaming, that is, analyze government laws and policies to examine its impact on women and men to ensure true equality for both. "The Women's Commission should also ensure that there are baseline statistics and indices for measuring the development of the status of women. To do so, gender specific data must be collected at the next census and statistic survey," said Ms. WU.
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