The Women's Commission was set up on January
15, 2001 as a central mechanism to promote the well-being and interests
of women in Hong Kong. It is tasked to identify women's needs and
address matters of concern to women in a holistic and systematic
manner. It has developed a long-term vision and strategy for the
development and advancement of women in Hong Kong. The Women's Commission
takes a strategic overview of women's issues, advises the Government
on policies and initiatives that are of concern to women and seeks
to ensure that women's perspectives are factored in (or mainstreamed)
during policy formulation.
Chaired by a non-official member and comprising
another 21 members, the commission's mission is 'To enable women
in Hong Kong to fully realise their due status, rights and opportunities
in all aspects of life.' To this end, the commission has adopted
a three-pronged strategy of creation of an enabling environment,
empowerment of women and public education. Special working groups
have been set up to take forward work in these areas. It also performs
three strategic functions in championing women's causes, inspiring
and catalysing changes and mobilising community resources.
In respect of creation of an enabling environment,
the commission has secured the Administration's agreement to introduce
gender mainstreaming in different policy areas incrementally. The
aim is to integrate women's needs and perspectives in formulation
and implementation of public policies, programmes and legislation.
An analytical tool in the form of a checklist (i.e. the Gender Mainstreaming
Checklist) has been developed. Since 2002, the checklist has been
applied to 14 policy areas or programmes. Plans are being prepared
to roll out the checklist to more policy areas on an incremental
basis, and to review the implementation of gender mainstreaming.
In addition, since 2001, gender-related training has been provided
to over 700 civil servants of different grades. All bureaux and
departments have designated "Gender Focal Points" to serve
as the contact/resource person for his/her organisation.
In the empowerment of women, the Women's Commission
aims to better equip women for life's challenges and to create an
enabling environment for women to develop themselves. The commission
has reviewed and suggested improvements to a number of services
for women to ensure their appropriateness, adequacy and quality.
It promotes development of new service models and good empowerment
practices. To enhance women's participation in advisory and statutory
bodies (ASBs), the commission has obtained the Administration's
agreement to take gender composition into account in making appointments
to these bodies. A gender benchmark of 25 per cent has been set
as an initial working target for appointments to ASBs. A proactive
approach is being taken to reach out, identify and cultivate potential
female candidates, and women's participation in ASBs (excluding
official and ex-officio members) has improved: from 21 per cent
in December 2003 to 23 per cent in December 2004. The Administration
will continue to work in this area.
A major step in the capacity building of women
was the implementation in March of an innovative and flexible learning
mode, the Capacity Building Mileage Programme. The programme seeks
to enhance women's all-round abilities and promote positive life
skills. The programme is being implemented on a three-year pilot
basis in partnership with a local tertiary institution and a radio
station, with funding support from the Lotteries Fund and supplementary
learning activities organised by NGOs. Since the launch of the programme,
responses from women have been enthusiastic. Twelve radio courses
and three face-to-face courses were conducted. The total number
of enrolments was 3 480, which exceeded the first year's target
of 2 100, not to mention the large audience reached through
the radio programmes. Students says they have benefited from the
courses in terms of increased interest in learning and enhanced
confidence and knowledge in resolving problems in daily life.
To enhance communication with the non-governmental
sector and to create synergy, the commission seeks to establish
partnerships with NGOs through its various activities. In this connection,
a planning forum was held in November to exchange views with women's
groups and other interested parties on the future work direction.
A framework of collaboration with NGOs and other interested parties
has also been developed to facilitate cooperation. The commission
will continue to collaborate with the non-governmental sector to
promote the realisation of women's full potential and elimination
of gender prejudices, and to strive for a more prosperous and better
future for all.