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LCQ1: Gender mainstreaming

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by the Hon Emily Lau in the Legislative Council today (June 10):


     Regarding the work of implementing gender mainstreaming and promoting gender equality, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) given that the authorities have, since 2002, applied the Gender Mainstreaming Checklist to 30 policy and programme areas which are of relevance to women, and provided training on gender mainstreaming to over 4 000 civil servants, whether the authorities have any plan to apply the Checklist to all other policy and programme areas as well as provide relevant training to all politically appointed officials and directorate civil servants; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) given that the work target of at least 25% for each gender for the purpose of appointing non-official members of advisory and statutory bodies had been attained at the end of 2005, whether the authorities have any plan to raise this target; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) given that the authorities have, since 2003, set up in all bureaux and government departments a network of Gender Focal Points (GFPs), most of whom being directorate officers, to assist the Government in promoting gender mainstreaming and offer suggestions, of the number of meetings held in the past three years between these GFPs and the bureaux concerned, the suggestions they have made and how such suggestions have been implemented?



(a) Since 2002, the Administration has, with the assistance of the Women's Commission (WoC), applied the Gender Mainstreaming Checklist (the Checklist) to 30 policy or programme areas which are of relevance to women.  The Checklist was developed by WoC to facilitate government officials to take into account the perspectives and needs of the two genders in the formulation of policies and programmes.  This is to ensure that women and men have equitable access to, and benefit from, society's resources and opportunities, thus promoting women's advancement and fostering gender equality and harmony in the long run.  Apart from adopting the Checklist, officers from a number of bureaux and departments have also applied the gender mainstreaming concept in the course of their work, taking into account the needs and perspectives of both genders.  The Administration will continue to apply the Checklist to more policy areas and promote the gender mainstreaming concept.  

     For gender mainstreaming to become an integral part of the policy formulation and service delivery processes, we consider it crucial to first develop a better understanding and awareness of the concept across the civil service.  To enhance civil servants' understanding of and sensitivity to gender-related issues, we have been providing training to civil servants at different levels to equip them with the relevant knowledge and skills in applying gender mainstreaming to their work.  Such training has covered a broad spectrum of staff from directorate officers involved in policy formulation to frontline officers engaged in service delivery.  To date, over 4 000 civil servants of various grades and ranks have attended different classroom gender-related training. We have also arranged a briefing on gender mainstreaming for Principal Officials and Heads of Departments.  

(b) In making appointments to advisory and statutory bodies (ASBs), the Administration aims to secure the services of the most suitable persons to meet the requirements of the board or committee concerned.  In making appointments, we will consider a host of factors including a candidate's ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service; the functions and nature of the board or committee concerned; and the gender balance, etc.  For statutory bodies, the appointing authorities will also take into account the relevant statutory requirements.  In considering the above factors, the appointing authorities aim to achieve the objective that the composition of ASBs could broadly reflect the interests and views of the community and that the principle of appointment by merit can be upheld.

     According to information provided by Home Affairs Bureau, the overall womenˇ¦s participation rate in ASBs was 27.6% as at April this year, which has already achieved the 25% gender benchmark target.  For certain ASBs relating to such sectors or professions with the majority of their practitioners being male; or with mainly male candidates recommended by the relevant professional bodies or institutions; or with the term of appointment of their members lasting for a few years, the appointing authorities will only have the opportunity to raise the womenˇ¦s participation rate further when making new appointments.  As a result, the Administration does not have plans to further raise the gender benchmark at present.

     To encourage and promote women's participation in community affairs, the appointing authorities will continue to adopt various measures to identify and cultivate more women to participate in the work of ASBs, including conveying the message to professional bodies or institutions that the Administration is making efforts in enhancing women's participation rate in ASBs.

(c) In the past three years, we have held six formal meetings and one workshop with the GFPs.  We have also maintained contact and communication with them in our daily work.  The suggestions made by the GFPs and their implementation are as follows:

     * GFPs suggested providing tailor-made training courses for officers of different departments and grades to suit their particular needs.  Last year, we provided customised courses for Social Work Officers, Social Security Officers and newly appointed Administrative Officers, aiming at enhancing their gender sensitivity and understanding of gender mainstreaming;

     * With the assistance and impetus of the GFPs network, some departments and grades (e.g. the Customs and Excise Department and the Administrative Officer Grade) have incorporated gender-related training into their mainstream training programmes;

     * On the advice of the GFPs, we launched a web-portal on gender mainstreaming in January this year for reference by all civil servants.  To enhance understanding of gender mainstreaming across the civil service, the web-portal provides information about the concept and its application and hyperlinks to useful websites.  It also sets out nearly 40 examples of different policy or programme areas that have applied gender mainstreaming, with quite a number of the examples contributed by the GFPs;

     * To introduce the basic concept of gender mainstreaming and promote the web-portal, we have also, on the advice of the GFPs, prepared a leaflet for reference by all civil servants.  The leaflet was distributed to all Legislative Council Members on 27 March 2009; and

     * WoC is reviewing and revising the Checklist to make it more user-friendly.  The GFPs have provided a lot of useful advice on ways to improve the Checklist.  WoC is modifying the design of the Checklist based on the comments of the stakeholders and the GFPs.

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:22


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