Historic Firsts & Glacial Progress

“There is no way for any society to prosper without tapping into the talent of all its people – men and women. It’s very simple, if you ignore part of your capabilities, you ... come up short in terms of economic achievements.” – Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

From research to outer space, there has been no shortage of gender-related developments. Here are three highlights from last week:

Women & Girls Missing from Hong Kong Policy Address:  Last Wednesday’s Policy Address made no overt mention of measures specifically targeting women and girls, with only a minor mention in the supplementary documents. Given that Hong Kong lags far behind our regional and global neighbours when it comes to implementing many of the drivers needed to close the gender gap, we were troubled by this glaring omission. From low numbers of women in the workforce to the feminisation of poverty, gender inequality is rife in the city. In particular, a significant point missing from the Policy Address was a commitment to additional protections and measures against sexual violence in the city, including thorough and independent investigations into allegations around police sexual violence and supporting the Hong Kong Police Force in adopting reforms and strengthening protocols to prevent future incidents. TWF will continue to follow up with the police and relevant government bodies on this issue and our other recommendations outlined in TWF’s response to the Public Consultation for the Policy Address. It is of critical importance that Hong Kong actively addresses the inequalities faced by more than half our population and commits to international best practice befitting Hong Kong’s status as a global financial centre.

NASA All-Female Space Walk: Although women astronauts have carried out space walks for over 30 years, this past Friday marked the first ever all-female space walk. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir were tasked with replacing a failed battery charger on the International Space Station which they completed successfully. It is an important historic milestone to close the gender gap, but, as astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson notes "as much as it's worth celebrating, many of us are looking forward to it just being normal."

More Women in the C-Suite, but Women Still Under-Represented Overall: McKinsey and LeanIn.org released their 2019 report examining women in the workplace. The report shows an increase of female representation in the C-Suite – from 17% to 21% in the last four years, but women still face significant obstacles, with 1 in 4 women believing their gender has played a role in missing out on a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead. This is coupled with problems companies face in attracting female talent, which a recent Harvard Business Review study found is directly related to culture signals the company sends during its recruitment process including female representation in leadership and technical roles. 

It’s important to celebrate moments of progress –like the NASA space walk – to remind us how far we have come in terms of gender equality. At the same time, we must keep the biases and inequalities we still face at the centre of conversations so that we can work with government, businesses, communities and individuals to action wholesale solutions and create a gender equal Hong Kong for all.   

Get in touch: Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org



Written by

The Women's Foundation