Can You Spot the Gaps Leaving Women & Girls Vulnerable?

As we find ourselves on the cusp of a COVID-19 fifth wave, we know this is not the start of the year anyone had envisioned. However, one of the most powerful lessons we have learned from the previous two years is that prioritising mental well-being as well as engaging in acts of collective care are paramount to our ability to emerge from this newest outbreak stronger and more closely connected than ever before. We encourage you to check out the resources in our Mental Well-being section of our newsletter, which we will update each week over this next period.

At TWF, while the health and well-being of our staff and community are a priority, we remain committed to improving the lives of women and girls. Here are three developments concerning the safety of women and girls:

Tighter Sexual Harassment Measures Needed: The Equal Opportunities Commission has noted several loopholes in the current Sexual Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) that leave certain segments of the population vulnerable and has called for updates to the SDO to rectify these gaps. This includes the lack of protections for sexual harassment between students from different education institutions and between occupants of the same residential building. At TWF, we fully support these SDO reforms and will continue to urge the Government to put these quickly into action.

Ghislaine Maxwell Trial: Ghislaine Maxwell, business partner and alleged co-conspirator of the late Jeffrey Epstein, was recently convicted on sex trafficking charges. While the verdict will be appealed by Maxwell, regardless of the extent of her involvement, the public nature of this trial places a spotlight on the complexity of violence against women and the complicity of the many individuals and institutions that enabled these abuses to continue for so long. Violence against women, girls and people of all genders is untenable. The complexity of this issue means it must be tackled systemically, not individually. At TWF, we have long advocated for stronger protections for victims of sexual violence here in Hong Kong and will continue to push for the adoption of these measures.

The Gender of a Surgeon Matters: Findings from research conducted by the University of Toronto revealed a concerning figure: out of the 1.3 million patient sample studied, women were 32% more likely to die after being operated on by a male surgeon than a female surgeon. Women were also more likely to experience complications and be readmitted into the hospital. Conversely, men had the same health outcome regardless of their surgeon’s gender. The researchers partially attribute the findings to implicit sex biases. Findings like these are one reason why TWF continues to urge the Government to provide detailed gender disaggregated data on a variety of critical topics. We hope these disturbing figures will encourage hospitals to proactively analyse their own surgical records through a gender lens and provide necessary training to surgeons to counteract some of these biases.

Building a gender equality society is not easy – it involves rigorous gender disaggregated data analysis to understand gaps or underlying biases, it needs laws and policies that comprehensively tackle all forms of violence against women and others, and it requires the support of everyone – individuals, organisations and institutions - to uphold and maintain it. We invite you to join us in efforts to make a gender equal city a reality in Hong Kong.

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Written by

The Women's Foundation