The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women evaluated the People’s Republic of China’s ninth periodic report under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on May 12 in Geneva, Switzerland. As part of the PRC’s report, the fourth report on CEDAW submitted by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had also been reviewed. The committee aims to protect and promulgate women’s rights as well as ending discrimination of all kinds against women.
Women’s rights in conjunction with gender equality is one of the most pressing and important global issues. Article 1 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Fortunately, women’s rights have witnessed a significant increase in attention and discussion across the globe over recent years, and the world has been making progressive strides toward enhancing gender equality.
According to UN Women, an organization advocating gender equality and women empowerment, 11.3 percent of the world’s heads of state are women; and 9.8 percent countries and regions have females as head of government, a rise of 5.3 percent and 7.3 percent respectively from a decade ago. Additionally, UN Women launched The Generation Equality Forum, a five-year action journey in 2021, to bring together governments, civil societies, private sectors and other bodies with the goal of narrowing gender inequality and promoting women’s rights.
The initiative is projected to be a monumental step in raising awareness regarding women’s equality. Finally, from Lebanon banning child marriage, Spain strengthening anti-rape laws and relevant penalties, to Chile electing the world’s first gender-equal constitutional assembly, the world is making great strides toward gender equality.
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China highly values women’s rights. The most recent amendment to the Women’s Protection Law in January, as well as many previous achievements in ensuring equality, attest to this. Similarly, women’s rights have been continuously promoted in Hong Kong over the years.
This world has no place for discrimination, segregation and violence against women. Our society as a whole can benefit greatly when women are empowered and given a fair chance to participate in social activities in various levels. Therefore, the campaign for gender equality must be upheld and sustained
Take for example, the fact that women’s political participation has risen significantly: female staff in the civil service has risen from 37.8 percent in 2018 to 38.9 percent in 2021; the number of principal officials in the government is also at an all-time high, accounting for around a quarter of the entire team. In terms of employee benefits, statutory maternity leave has been extended from 10 to 14 weeks, benefiting an estimated 27,000 pregnant employees and their employers annually.
Furthermore, the government regularly introduces public education programs that are informative and interactive, with the goal of cultivating a society free from stereotyping women. Amendments to bills related to gender equality have also been frequently promoted on television and social media to ensure the public is routinely informed and educated on such matters. The aforementioned indicate some of the progress Hong Kong has made in promoting women’s rights and gender equality.
While Hong Kong has adopted many policies and achieved numerous goals in creating opportunities for women and safeguarding their rights, the government will remain proactive in such efforts. The New People’s Party will be working closely with the government in creating more opportunities and promoting equal rights for women. A motion concerning women’s rights was introduced and discussed in the Legislative Council on May 10; lawmakers who participated in the discussion urged the government to take more substantial steps on the matter.
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This world has no place for discrimination, segregation and violence against women. Our society as a whole can benefit greatly when women are empowered and given a fair chance to participate in social activities in various levels. Therefore, the campaign for gender equality must be upheld and sustained.
The author is a member of the Legislative Council and of the New People’s Party.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.