Equal Opportunities Commission to Combat Systemic Discrimination
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) will focus its efforts on combating systemic discrimination this year.
Speaking at a press briefing today (14 January), Dr. Fanny CHEUNG Mui-ching, Chairperson of the EOC, reviewed the EOC's performance in 1998 and highlighted the key areas of work for 1999.
"1998 has been a very busy and productive year for the EOC. There was almost a threefold increase in the number of discrimination complaints we investigated," Dr. CHEUNG said.
She pointed out that complaints under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance which required investigation and conciliation increased significantly to 310 in 1998, compared with 98 in the previous year. Complaints under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance doubled from 70 in 1997 to 152 in 1998.
"Having analysed the trend and pattern of discrimination complaints, we believe systemic discrimination in the form of discriminatory practices exists in employment as well as in education," Dr. CHEUNG added.
She said there were cases where job applicants were rejected because their family members have a history of mental illness. Such selection criteria were clearly discriminatory. Also, in schools, students were not given a real choice in the selection of subjects. For instance, it was a common practice for boys to take up design and technology and girls to take up home economics.
"Systemic discrimination affects a great number of people. We need to look at the fundamentals such as recruitment policies and conventional practices in order to get to the root of the problem," Dr. CHEUNG stressed.
"We are determined to combat systemic discrimination. We can address the problem by means of formal investigation, judicial review and court action on individual cases."
At the press briefing, Dr. CHEUNG also highlighted the EOC's full-year programme to promote equal opportunities which included a series of roadshows throughout the territory and activities aiming at children and young people.
"In our effort to promote equal opportunities from childhood, we are producing a training module for children focusing on equal opportunities on grounds of gender and disability for use in kindergartens and child care centres," Dr. CHEUNG said.
"We are also organising puppet shows - "The Kids on the Block" - in primary schools so that students can learn about equal opportunities through the lively performance of the puppets,"
"Together with the Education Department, we will be producing an educational TV programme on discrimination for secondary school students," Dr. CHEUNG added.
Dr. CHEUNG expected 1999 to be another busy and fruitful year. She pledged that the EOC would spare no effort in eliminating discrimination and promoting equal opportunities.
Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211