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Speech by CS at Women's Commission's reception to celebrate International Women's Day 2014 (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 2014 organised by the Women's Commission at the Central Government Offices in Tamar this morning (March 8):

     As there are some English-speaking guests joining us today, I would like to say a few words in English.

     In the past decade, through the joint efforts of the Government, the Women's Commission and the community as a whole, the social status of women has been on a rise.

     On public participation, the percentage of female members appointed by the Government to our various advisory and statutory bodies rose from 19 per cent in 2001, when the Women's Commission was set up, to 32 per cent  last year. While I am the only female Principal Official in the current-term Government, the proportion of female colleagues in the entire Government has increased in recent years. You will have noticed that half of our 18 permanent secretaries and around one-third of our directorate officers are women.

     On the employment side, women are taking up a bigger share in medium and high level positions. Within the ten-year period between 2002 and 2012, the number of female managers and administrators in the private sector increased from 26 per cent to 33 per cent. The proportion of female professionals has also grown steadily.

     On the other hand, following the introduction of the Statutory Minimum Wage in May 2011, there has been an increase in the female labour force and female working population respectively. As we have pointed out in the consultation document on population policy, the labour force participation rate for women is still lower than that of men. This is understandable, probably reflecting that more women choose to stay out of the labour force to take care of their families. We certainly respect the choice of women to perform this important role of home makers. But also according to the Census and Statistics Department, about 8 per cent of female homemakers indicated that they would be willing to work given suitable employment opportunities. It is therefore high time for our society to explore how to facilitate women who wish to work to achieve their goals as well as to release the labour force.

     I am therefore extremely pleased that under the leadership of Stella, the Women's Commission will put this particular topic as the forefront of work in the coming year. The Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Women's Commission are conducting a survey to find out the reasons why Hong Kong women leave the labour market and the factors that attract them to take up employment again. The findings will serve as reference for policy formulation. Furthermore, the Chief Executive has announced in his 2014 Policy Address that starting from 2014-15, the Social Welfare Department will allocate additional resources to extend the service hours in some after-school care centres. The Department will also lift the age limit of service beneficiaries and provide additional places for home-based child care services under the Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project.

     The above are just some of the measures that we have taken to promote women development, and I am sure that you will be able to learn more about them at today's event with the exhibition booth. Last but not the least, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your family good health and abundant happiness. Thank you very much.

Ends/Saturday, March 8, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:31


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