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Government to provide enabling environment to unleash women's potential in society (with photos)

     The Government attaches great importance to promoting the interests and well-being of women, with a three "E's" strategy being adopted in enabling, empowering and educating women to play a full role in society and unleash their potential.

     The Acting Chief Secretary of Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said this at a forum entitled "Searching for a New Dimension for Hong Kong Women" organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Women today (May 30).

     Elaborating on the topic of "enabling environment", Mr Cheung pointed out that with the assistance of the Women's Commission, the Government had since 2002 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.

     He noted that a gender benchmark of 25 per cent for appointing members to the many government statutory and advisory bodies was introduced in 2004, and further increased to 30 per cent in 2010. Currently, 33 per cent of all Government-appointed members are women.

     Highlighting the social and political participation of women in Hong Kong, Mr Cheung said, "There are five female members among 15 non-official members in the Executive Council. At the top of the civil service, half of all the 18 Permanent Secretaries are female." Noting that participation at district level is on the low side with only 89 of the 500-plus District Council members being female, Mr Cheung said that more needed to be done to achieve true equality for women in political participation.

     In the corporate world, Mr Cheung said it was encouraging that the Hong Kong Exchange had amended the Listing Rule to promote board diversity including gender diversity earlier this year.

     "I am glad that there is an increasing awareness on the part of local corporations to break the 'glass ceiling' and provide more opportunities for women at the management level," he said.

      Turning to leadership and professional roles in the workplace, Mr Cheung said the proportions of female managers and administrators, professionals and associate professionals had been increasing over the years. For managers and administrators, the figure has risen from 24 per cent in 2000 to 32 per cent in the first quarter of this year, while that for professionals rose from 32 per cent to 37 per cent and the figure for associate professionals rose from 40 per cent to 46 per cent.

     On entry into higher professions, Mr Cheung noted that figures in 2011 showed 48 per cent of certified public accountants, 46 per cent of solicitors, and around 30 per cent of medical doctors were women. "Clearly, more women in Hong Kong are breaking barriers, excelling in their careers and moving up the social ladder," Mr Cheung added.

     On education, Mr Cheung said that female students accounted for a significant 53.2 per cent of the total enrolment of all tertiary education programmes funded by the Government.

     With Hong Kong facing the dual challenges of a rapidly ageing population and dwindling workforce, Mr Cheung stressed the need to seriously consider how best to unleash the potential of women and attract them to the labour market.

     "The Steering Committee on Population Policy is looking into the ways and means of attracting and facilitating more women to join the labour market through family-friendly measures. To this end, we will work closely with the Women's Commission to identify viable options," he said.

     In conclusion, Mr Cheung said, "Whilst many women in Hong Kong are excelling in their careers that their mothers and grandmothers believed were far beyond their reach, I think that there is still room for improvement. We need to do more to provide local women with the opportunities of advancement that they deserve."

Ends/Thursday, May 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:26


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