Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC organizes seminar to promote understanding of gender equality


Local and overseas experts discussed and shared information on how policies, programmes and best practices had assisted in the attainment of gender equality at today's (19 January 2007) Seminar on Advancement in Gender Equality --- The Swedish and Hong Kong Stories jointly organized by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the Consulate General of Sweden, the Swedish Institute and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The seminar, part of the EOC's tenth anniversary year programme, was officiated by Mrs. Carrie LAM, the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs.

Mr. Raymond TANG, Chairperson of the EOC, shared the EOC's regulatory experience of implementing the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) in Hong Kong. He said, "The status of women in Hong Kong has improved over the years, allowing women today access to more choices than ever before. But while women may be better educated than their mothers, many carry dual roles as carers and income earners, and though they may have better control over their lives than the previous generation, women continue to suffer more from family violence than men. As dual-earners families become the norm in our society, traditional roles for women and men will need to change, in order to meet the challenges ahead."

Ms. Gunilla STERNER, Adviser in the Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality in Sweden, presented Sweden's unique model for gender equality. The model combines the freedom of choice for the individual and economic independence for both women and men during different phases of their lives.

Ms. STERNER pointed out that gender mainstreaming requires a clear political will and it is an effective strategy to reach the gender equality goals in different policy areas. "All ministries and public authorities should include a gender perspective in their daily work," said Ms. STERNER who cited gender equality tools such as sex-disaggregated statistics to facilitate gender analysis, knowledge of gender relations, knowledge of administration such as necessary funds and human resources, and participation of women in decision-making bodies.
As there is a growing trend of shared responsibilities in family life for women and men, experts discussed work life balance and family friendly initiatives.

Dr. Lars PLANTIN, Senior Lecturer of Malmo University in Sweden, examined the relationship between social policy and family life. He pointed out that in Sweden, the well-developed municipal childcare services and the parental leave system had affected parent's attitudes and behaviours in a positive way. For example, Swedish men not only have positive attitudes towards household work but also in practice, are more active in sharing housework. Many first time fathers are involved in playing activities with their children and participate more in their caring roles.   

Dr. PLANTIN gave the assurance that it is profitable for organizations to invest in family friendliness. The positive effects include increased loyalty and engagement in work from employees, reduced tendency from employees to quit, reduced stress and ill-health among employees, and thereby less reporting of sickness. Such policies have helped to improve companies' reputation and "good will" in Swedish society.

Through the Swedish and Hong Kong experiences, participants of the seminar were able to reflect on the progress in gender equality, and the way forward. They considered the seminar a good starting point for further discussions on how the government, business, concerned groups, voluntary agencies and equal opportunities practitioners could promote gender equality, in response to the specific challenges that were highlighted. Also, the seminar had fostered professional development and facilitated network building and collaboration.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. TANG, the EOC Chairperson, appealed to the public to abandon outdated assumptions based on gender stereotypes to fully utilize innate human capital in our society. "Our society should be able to tap into the full potential of its members, so that everyone can contribute to the economic, social, political and cultural aspects of our community," said Mr. TANG.

Over 300 participants from the private and public sectors, voluntary agencies, NGOs as well as schools and tertiary institutes attended the Seminar on Advancement in Gender Equality held on 19 January and a youth forum on 20 January 2007 held at the CUHK campus.  
For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.