Speech by CS at Women's Commission's reception to celebrate International Women's Day 2013 (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Carrie Lam, delivered at the cocktail reception to celebrate International Women's Day 2013 organised by the Women's Commission at the Central Government Offices in Tamar this evening (March 8):

     As we have some English-speaking guests among us today, let me just say a few words in English.

     First of all, I said that my attendance together with all of you to celebrate the International Women's Day is essential. In fact it would be unforgiving for me not to come as I am the only woman in the team of the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, in this term of the HKSAR Government.

     I am delighted to be here together with the Women's Commission, women's groups and guests who care about the welfare of women in Hong Kong, to celebrate the International Women's Day.

     Since 2002, with the assistance of the Women's Commission, the Government has started to implement gender mainstreaming in a progressive manner, taking into consideration the perspectives and needs of women and men in formulating relevant policies and measures.  

     For example, on the advice of the Commission, we introduced in 2004 a gender benchmark of 25% when appointing members to Government advisory and statutory boards.  The benchmark was further raised to 30% in 2010, and currently, I am pleased to report that 33% of government appointed members on these boards are women.  The Hong Kong Exchange has earlier on amended the Listing Rule to promote board composition diversity by nominating people of various backgrounds as directors, of course including promoting female participation.  

     I am glad to see that new initiatives have been introduced in the women sector calling for enterprises to break the so-called "glass ceiling" and provide more opportunities for women at the managerial level.  This is an area of work that the society as a whole should accord priority to, against a projected shrinking of Hong Kong's labour force.  As such, I would like to take this occasion to appeal to all of you on the importance of attracting more women into the labour market.

     In fact, following the implementation of the Statutory Minimum Wage in May 2011, the female labour force and female working population have both risen by around 6% comparing to the figures before its introduction.  This shows the increasing importance of female labour force to the overall development of our society.

     Apart from gender mainstreaming, the Women's Commission has adopted a "3E" strategy, namely "Enabling Environment", "Empowerment" and "Public Education", to help women fully realise their due status, rights and opportunities.  To encourage women of different ages and backgrounds to pursue lifelong learning, starting from 2012-13, the Government has allocated to the Commission an annual provision of $8 million to turn the Capacity Building Mileage Programme into a recurrent project.  Courses conducted in English and Putonghua will be launched for ethnic minority and new arrival women.

     Ladies and gentlemen, the Government and the Women's Commission will continue to work hand in hand with all concerned parties to provide more opportunities and continuous encouragement to women to help them live a fruitful and blissful life.  I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all good health and a very prosperous year ahead.  Thank you very much.

Ends/Friday, March 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:37