Disquiet and Hope

"When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else." ― Toni Morrison, American Nobel laureate and writer

Globally and locally, the past few weeks have seen several developments – both disturbing and hopeful, and women’s rights have been no exception.

Here are three highlights:

Women in leadership: Reports are circulating around the potential appointments of two women to powerful positions: Alison Rose, who is poised to become the first female Chief Executive of a major UK bank, and Kristalina Georgieva, the EU’s nominee as the next Managing Director of the IMF. Both have been gender equality advocates – Rose having led a Treasury-commissioned inquiry into the barriers facing female entrepreneurs and Georgieva having achieved parity in senior management in her tenure at the World Bank, and while at the European Commission, pushed toward a target of 40% women in management by 2019.  We hope to see them both continue to drive forward gender equality. 

Support for Breastfeeding: Last week marked World Breastfeeding Week and Hong Kong joined 170 other economies to support the occasion. This year’s theme was ‘Empower Parents: Enable Breastfeeding’, reminding us that successful breastfeeding depends on a myriad of social, structural, legal, and practical elements being put in place, particularly by employers. While breastfeeding rates have increased in Hong Kong over the last 20 years, only 28% of babies here are exclusively breastfed at 4 months old, whereas WHO recommends 6 months. Hong Kong needs to normalise breastfeeding in public spaces and facilitate this important start with family friendly work policies including sufficient paid maternity leave and employers who actively support breastfeeding with positive attitudes, adequate time and suitable space for mothers.

Reports of Sexual Violence: TWF has been deeply troubled by increasing reports of sexual violence against women in Hong Kong. Any acts of sexual violence concerning any gender are completely unacceptable. Last week, we submitted a letter to the Police Commissioner and other relevant authorities urging that all incidents be fully investigated and immediate action taken to prevent further similar transgressions. We are aware there have been several more reported incidences since then and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and do our part to ensure the dignity and rights of all women and girls in Hong Kong are fully respected.

Equality between the sexes is a question of a fair and equitable distribution of power, influence, opportunities and resources. From the workplace to the streets, Hong Kong still has significant strides to make before we achieve equality.

Let’s take action – calling out instances of inequality when we see it, advocating for long term structural and mindset changes – and progress gender equality forward for all.

Get in touch Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org


Written by

The Women's Foundation