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Speech by CS at Women's Commission's reception to celebrate International Women's Day 2015 (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the cocktail reception to celebrate International Women's Day 2015 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.

     The HKSAR Government has all along been attaching great importance to promoting women's rights and set up in 2001 the Women's Commission, which is tasked to take a strategic overview of women's issues. Since its establishment, the Commission has been offering valuable advice to the Government on policies and initiatives which are of concern to women. The Commission has earlier made two important recommendations to the Government. First, the Commission recommended that all bureaux and departments be required to refer to the Gender Mainstreaming Checklist and apply gender mainstreaming when formulating major government policies and initiatives. The second recommendation is to raise the benchmark for appointing women to Government advisory and statutory bodies by five percentage points from 30 per cent to 35 per cent, so as to enhance women's participation in the work of these bodies. The Chief Executive has accepted the Commission's two recommendations in his Policy Address delivered in January this year. These initiatives will take effect on April 1 this year. I'm sure that Stella (Chairperson of Women's Commission, Mrs Stella Lau) and all of you as women leaders would find it encouraging.

     As announced in the Policy Address, one of the strategies in the Population Policy is to unleash the potential of local labour force, with the focus on promoting women employment. The Government is committed to creating an enabling environment for promoting women employment through a multi-pronged approach, so that women who wish to join or re-join the job market would have more options, taking into account their own and family needs. At the same time, the Government will enhance child care services to provide better support for women to take care of their families while at work.

     As mentioned in the "Population Policy - Strategies and Initiatives" which was released following the Policy Address, the Government will increase the child care places and extend the service hours. We have therefore made provisions for setting up a new aided standalone child care centre in Sha Tin in 2017-18, and encouraged non-governmental organisations to establish work-based child care centres through the "Special Scheme on Privately Owned Sites for Welfare Uses" when they are reconstructing or making alterations to their welfare facilities. To lead by example, the Government will also explore, on a pilot basis, the feasibility of providing child care places for staff members in the proposed Government Complex in Tseung Kwan O. We also plan to increase, by phases, the provision of places of Extended Hours Service at aided child care centres and kindergarten-cum-child care centres in districts with high demand, thus increasing the total provision of such places from about 1 200 to over 6 200 places, representing a fourfold increase.

     While supporting women employment, we also endeavour to strengthen family support and promote active ageing. To this end, the Government will launch a pilot project to help grandparents become well-trained child carers in a home setting. We hope you could recommend this project to your friends who are lucky enough to be grandparents. Needless to say, the Labour Department will continue to encourage the employers to adopt family-friendly employment practices, so as to help employees strike a better balance between their work and family needs. We are delighted that the statutory paternity leave has been implemented since February 27, which should be a nice gift for all parents-to-be in the Year of the Sheep.

     Looking ahead, I wish that the Commission, women's groups, various stakeholders and the Government would continue to join hands in creating a favourable environment for our women in Hong Kong, thereby enabling them to unleash their potential as they wish.

     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/Sunday, March 8, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:40


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