Link Details

Gov?t striving for women?s rights

Gender equality in education has enabled our women to enjoy equal employment opportunities. In Hong Kong, women are protected by the same labour legislation as men are. Women now comprise nearly half of our solicitors and public accountants, compared to about one-third two decades ago. Over the same period, managerial positions in Hong Kong have gone from about 20% filled by women to 35%. Those percentages are very much similar to those in our Government. Today, more than one-third of Hong Kong civil servants at the directorate level, that is the most senior level, are women. Two decades ago, that percentage was just over 15%.


Still, working women do face a lot of challenges in striking a balance between their important role in their family and the development of their career. The participation rate of our female labour force last year was just under 51%; for men it was 68.5%. Clearly, we have some ways to go yet in creating a society that is as balanced in terms of careers as it is in educational opportunities.


As Chief Executive, I can assure you that creating a level playing field for women in business is a high priority for my Government. That's why I proposed in my Policy Address last October a number of pro-women measures. These measures include expanding maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks, with the extra four weeks in maternity leave pay to be borne in full by the Government. We plan to introduce the amended legislation in the Legislative Council before the end of this year.


We are also working on a variety of measures to enhance childcare services so as to enable women with young children to take up or stay in employment. We will provide more facilities for breastfeeding, and legislative amendments to prohibit discrimination against breastfeeding have been introduced to the LegCo. We will introduce in the coming school year free cervical cancer vaccination for schoolgirls of particular age groups. We will also continue our efforts to raise the proportion of female members in statutory bodies and advisory committees, so that women's voices will be heard in policymaking. By the way, our Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited, which runs the very important stock market in Hong Kong, is now having its first-ever Chairlady, Mrs Laura Cha. We will together call on all listed companies to appoint more females as their board members.


In short, we will create every opportunity we can for the women of Hong Kong. Equal opportunity, whether in work, education or any other sphere of society, is essential to creating a caring and inclusive community. And in enabling the ambitions of women - whether in Hong Kong, in Bangladesh or any other country or economy - we can ensure a thriving future for us all.


Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave these remarks at the Asian University for Women Gala Dinner on June 11.

Read Full Article