Today, I stand here as a spokesperson of “The Women’s Foundation Hong Kong”.
We have invited you all to this event to address the issue of gender inequality in Hong Kong. To all the women out here; gender equality exists. We want to the issue of gender inequality and to do that we need everyone involved.
If you care about solving gender inequality issues in Hong Kong as much as we do, then you certainly have the power, the willingness and the capability to advocate your friends and colleagues to fight for gender inequality. “The Women’s Foundation” serves as a non profitable organization that tries to galvanize everyone to fight for gender equality and to improve lives of women and girls in Hong Kong. Our purpose in Hong Kong is to empower children, young people and community to make vital changes that tackle the root causes of discrimination against girls, exclusion and vulnerability.
Being elected as the spokesperson of “The Women’s Foundation”, I have gained a lot of insights on gender inequality in Asia. Comparing Hong Kong with developing countries, for example India, Vietnam and Thailand, Hong Kong’s young women are better off. However, gender stereotypes and the great level of pressures girls endure illustrate the level of gender inequality in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government has said that it is not necessary to promote events and organizations that fight for gender inequality as it already prioritize girls empowerment in schools through education. In the city we live in, girls are given unnecessary pressure to get married as well as conflicting gender stereotypes and yet, the government of Hong Kong does not find it necessary to help organizations to promote campaigns such as, “Because I Am A Girl” and “Donate a pencil”.
In Hong Kong, we see gender inequality through stereotyping of women and girls, advertisements and gender pay gap. Growing up in Hong Kong, just like most of you, I never realized that gender inequality exists but it certainly did at home, school and workplace. At school, girls were not given opportunities to take part in sports and even if they were given a chance, girls would refuse fearing that they would be teased by their friends for being called muscly. I believe there is stereotyping of women and girls in Hong Kong at a very young age. Girls are not encouraged to play sports as it is considered manly. Girls are given princess books to read and toys that resembles a perfect girl that can do housework as well as study.
At home, girls are forced to do chores and are taught to be a perfect housewives. But on the other hand, girls are also expected to excel in their studies and in many cases girls do outperform boys and yet we still see men being dominant in professions like engineering, CEOs and police officers. Since 2011, the pay gap between men and women has widened according to a report by Census and statistics department. The mean salary men are receiving is HK$2,500 more than that of women. The pay gap has widened by HK$500. Women are earning less not because they are weak but they are considered weak.
Clearly, discrimination exists. Census and statistics department has also shown that fewer Hong Kong women are employers. In 2007, there were 27,700 women who were employers but the number has decreased to 21,900 in 2014. There is lack of laws in Hong Kong that prevents gender specific advertisements. In this city, we see ads from skinny women promoting weight loss to men showing their physical fitness and being leaders. There are some countries, for example France that ban sexist commercials.
The advertisements promote unrealistic ideas of female beauty to a large extent. We also see how advertisements are encouraging gender stereotypes. We have women playing the roles of nurses and men are usually shown as CEOs. The government says it does not want to promote those events and organizations fighting for gender inequality because they promote gender inequality through education system. However, has this solved the gender inequality issues in Hong Kong? I believe that the government should start focusing on promoting events that fight for gender equality. Empowering women and girls through education is a right step to end gender inequality but that is not enough. Hong Kong is already lagging behind in solving gender inequality issues. Therefore, it’s government’s duty to promote events and organizations that solely aim to solve gender inequality.
We still have people stereotyping women and girls. We still practice traditions and cultures that create a border line of what women and girls should do. We still have advertisements and media portraying what women and girls should be and look like. To fight gender inequality, we all got to work together. Stop stereotyping women and girls. Join us on the movement to end gender inequality. “The Women’s Foundation Hong Kong” where women are given opportunities to become leaders, where women are taught how to challenge gender stereotypes and where women in poverty are empowered. Let’s take a right step towards a society in which women are treated equally as men.
Let’s make this change together for yourself, women in Hong Kong, women around the world and for the future daughters. It’s now or never. Thank you very much.