"What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.” Paul Hawken, American Environmentalist
Whether you are still working remotely or transitioning back to the office full time, we hope everyone is taking good care of their physical and mental well-being, and are supporting and sharing best practices to family, friends and colleagues across the globe as they newly grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have added a TWF Care Pack section to our newsletter that provides ideas and resources to cope with the continued disruptions and added pressure.
Whilst we have been grappling with the challenges of COVID-19, there have also been significant happenings for women and girls around the globe in the last few months. Below are key highlights you may have missed:
Proposed Legislation for Women & Girls in HK: We are hopeful three bills currently being discussed in LegCo will be passed in the next few months that will strengthen protections for women and girls: 1. a bill that would make it illegal to harass or discriminate against women for breastfeeding, 2. the long awaited extension of maternity leave and 3. increased measures to combat sexual harassment.
Weinstein Conviction: Justice was served last week when Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. The conviction marked a victory for the #MeToo movement and for Weinstein’s victims. It also gives hope to other survivors of sexual assault. "Although this is a first conviction, this is not a first offense," Judge James Burke said in imposing the sentence.
IWD and Women's Rights: International Women’s Day was marked with a huge wave of women’s rights protests calling for equality. Despite fears about COVID-19 and efforts by some to stop them, marches were well attended and focused on issues including an end to violence against women. These maps of the world from the World Economic Forum show how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality around the globe.
New research has shown the extent of bias against women but also offers practical ways forward. The United Nations Development Programme released some depressing findings in their Gender Norm Index Research. The index measured social beliefs and found pervasive prejudice against women continues to be held by both men and women worldwide. Australia’s landmark report on Sexual Harassment at Work has released the findings of the nationwide enquiry. The report recommends a positive onus on employers to eliminate sex discrimination and sexual harassment, and makes over 50 other concrete recommendations to help eradicate violence against women in the workplace.
Diversifying Boards: In January, Goldman Sachs announced it will refuse to publicly list a company in the US and Europe without at least one woman on their board, recognising that companies with at least one female director on their boards performed "significantly better" compared to those without. We hope this policy will extend to Asia and inspires other investment banks to follow suit.
From research and institutions to organisations and grassroots movements, there is an appetite for change. From this, we are seeing raised awareness and incremental progress all over the world to close the gender gap and while COVID-19 has intensified fears and inequalities, it has also exposed our strength, capability and sense of community locally and now globally. We invite each of you to join TWF and others in this spirit of resilience and action as we reaffirm our commitment to build a gender balanced world.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.