Conference to discuss the improvement of women's status in Hong Kong
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (6 May 2000) organized a conference on "Hong Kong Perspectives on Beijing +5" in partnership with Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities and the Freedom Forum. Addressing at the Conference was Mrs. Anson CHAN, the Chief Secretary for Administration.
In her welcoming speech to the participants, Ms. Anna WU, Chairperson of the EOC, explained that the conference was to review the progress of Hong Kong in the areas of economic issues, institutional mechanisms, violence and media since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. "The selected areas represent some of the most pressing concerns for women in Hong Kong." Ms. WU said.
Ms. Wu reviewed the progress in the last five years which included the introduction of three pieces of anti-discrimination legislation giving protection to women against sexual harassment and discrimination on the ground of sex, pregnancy, marital status and family status, as well as the establishment of the EOC to administer the legislation and promote equal opportunities.
"The discrimination and harassment cases brought by the EOC that have been successful in court laid down clear indication for change of attitudes in Hong Kong." Ms. WU said.
She attributed those achievements to the enormous efforts made by advocates in our community and the positive response of Government.
Nevertheless, Ms. WU also pointed out other areas where little or no progress had been made. "The trend of greater career progression for women in the public sector is not mirrored in the private sector and the 'glass ceiling' phenomenon in the workplace remains a real barrier for many women in Hong Kong." Ms. WU said.
There were varying degrees of difficulties in horizontal career progression for women in both the public and private sectors and women were concentrated in what was regarded as 'female jobs' such as clerks, nurses, public relations personnel and so forth.
Ms. WU said, "The Commission is concerned about the current gender pay gap that women's pay still lags behind that of men's even though they are performing the same jobs or jobs of equal value."
Ms. WU emphasized that barriers to equal access for women and girls were still prevalent in education and training at an institutional level. The EOC had already made its position clear to Government that it opposed the discriminatory Secondary School Places Allocation system because of its gender bias.
"The EOC suggests the establishment of a central mechanism to address women's concerns and co-ordinates women's development. We would welcome proposals from the Government to advance the status of women." Ms. WU added.
Other speakers at the Conference included Ms. WU Mei-lin of the Hong Kong Women Workers' Association, Ms. LEUNG Lai-ching of City University, Mr. Andrew BRYNES of the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Philip BEH of the University of Hong Kong, Ms. Irene NG Wai-ching of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women, Ms. LEE Wai-yee of the Association for the Advancement of Feminism and Ms. Patricia CHAN, Deputy Editor of the Next Magazine. Mrs. Peggy LAM, Chairperson of Hong Kong Federation of Women and Mr. K.W. CHOI of Hong Kong Council of Social Service spoke about preparations required for non-government organizations to attend the forthcoming Beijing +5 Conference to be held at New York.
More than 100 people attended the Conference, representing the government, women's organizations and academia.
Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211