“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama, former US President
The World Economic Forum has released the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 and we are pleased to ring in the new decade with encouraging news.
The report estimates that global gender equality will now be reached in 99.5 years. While this might seem far away, it is an improvement on last year's finding of 108 years and over two thirds of the countries measured made progress last year. The most significant overall improvement this year was in the area of political empowerment (although it remains the indicator with the widest gender gap with only 24.7% having been closed). In the areas of education and health, overall, over 95% of gender gaps have been closed.
But East Asia and the Pacific need an estimated 163 years to close the gender gaps in the region – longer than any other part of the world. Hong Kong can do much more to help these sobering statistics. In our city, only 55% of women are in the workforce and are also underrepresented in the Executive Council, Legislative Council, and District Council as well as on boards and in management, among other issues.
At our Gender Equality Summit last September, we brought the community together to explore how we can more effectively tackle gender inequality. Among the many takeaways, three key messages emerged:
- More diverse voices in positions of power are needed to better understand and comprehensively address gender inequality
- Systemic problems require a systemic response and set of solutions
- Progress will not always be incremental or inevitable. To change institutions and norms, action is necessary – collectively and individually
Building on this dialogue, our programme & research findings, and our collaborations with like-minded organisations, here are the top four issues TWF will focus on in 2020:
Actioning workplace gender equality: Women face a wide-ranging set of challenges in the workplace and in entering or returning to the workforce. Our suite of professional programmes coupled with our advocacy efforts will address some of these challenges, particularly narrowing the gender pay gap.
Policy-making with a gender lens: Following our set of recommendations outlined in our submission to the Government last October, we will continue to engage with the Government and other bodies to incorporate the specific needs of women and girls into our policies and laws.
Engaging men and boys: While expanding our Male Allies Initiative for senior male leaders, we will also work to nurture gender equality champions among young men through our boys education programme set to launch later this year.
Tackling sexual violence against women: Concerned with the prevalence of this issue, we will continue to advocate for comprehensive changes in the law, and work with key stakeholders to bring about more preventative measures, and protection and support for victims.
The past seven months have challenged Hong Kong in unprecedented ways. As we look towards mending divisions, tackling inequity and finding a collective way forward, advancing gender equality must be part of this process. We need the voices, talents, ideas and contributions of all our residents to harness the innovation, creativity, cooperation and compassion needed to ensure our city and all its residents can flourish.
To accomplish this, we each need to believe in our ability to be agents of change. Let’s make our voices heard this year.
Tell us, how will you contribute to greater gender equality in 2020?