Women’s Empowerment in Hong Kong

The major question I based my research on was, How has the youths views on Women’s empowerment in Hong Kong changed since the older, more traditional and conservative times?

Catalyst Project Introduction

Hong Kong being under the influence of China had adapted a very traditional and conservative view on women. Encouraging and guiding women to have a mindset that they are meant to obey their husbands and stay at home. It relates to the gender equality UN sustainable development goal and I want to provide information on the topic to youths starting in my own community (in HKIS) to overcome gender inequality.

Scholars research on Women’s Empowerment in Hong Kong

There are a myriad of different types of feminists all with the same goal of reaching gender equality globally. However, various cultures have different rules and perspectives on how women should act and be treated in society. My project explores transnational, global and other kinds of feminists. I wanted to focus on the cultural and age differences discovering how that impacts gender equality. Using many scholars (from Hong Kong) articles from both male and female, old and young to reference how the views on Women’s empowerment has changed in Hong Kong with the new generation.

Fanny M. Cheung

In my bibliography, I made sure to use older generations articles to get information on gender equality in Hong Kong and their views on Women’s empowerment and how the times have changed. Using Fanny M. Cheung’s Book “EnGendering Hong Kong Society: A Gender Perspective of Women’s Status” as one of my older generations perspectives, I learnt about the traditional views on Women’s place in Hong Kong. It demonstrated many stereotypes that the majority of locals in Hong Kong agreed with such as woman being less dominant in the work force and keeping women in their rightful place (at home, as a house wife). Cheung explores the stereotypes and identities women have been viewed as and this brings a different perspective to my project because he explains how much of the older generation view women with a traditional mindset.

Anthony Fung

Contradicting this article, I also used a youths perspective on Women’s empowerment by author Anthony Fung. His article called Sex Roles: Formal vs. Informal Use of Television and Sex-Role Stereotyping in Hong Kong. Fun talks a lot about the influence and power of the media and how through media stereotypes in Hong Kong on women have been created. This article is interesting because Media controls much of the youths lives and reading and seeing posts on the internet about women can influence the youths views on Women. Fung argues that medias perspectives on Gender can influence the way the local community feel about it as media has a huge role in our modern day society. He mixes Western liberal thoughts with Chinese traditional ones and explains that gender stereotyping still exist in Hong Kong.

Angie Cheung
Marielle Sas

I contacted a non-profit organisation in Hong Kong called Women’s Empowerment Hong Kong Foundation. I got in touch with two women who both work for the organisation one named Aggi Cheung who is primarily responsible for the Mentoring Programme for Women Leaders, including planning events throughout the year. As well as another woman named Marielle Sas who is the Development Director for the Organisation. I asked them a series of Questions to get first-handed information on the situation of Women’s empowerment and the statistics I was given were shocking, for example when I asked the question What is equality and women empowerment like now compared to before? Their response was “In 2014, we were 81 years away from globally achieving gender equality. We aremoving backwards – we are now 216 years away from gender equality.” They provided many statistics attached to the emails (which you will see in later posts) and gave background knowledge on the local situation stating ” In general the Hong Kong community people are very committed to advance the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong.”

This relates back to my gender studies course I’ve been taking because it demonstrates a lot of the terminology we learnt and aspects of feminism. For example, Global feminism which explores feminism with various differences (Race, sexuality, culture, religion and etc) united together as the global sister hood. This links in to my project because I wanted to explore how Hong Kong’s culture and religious, traditional beliefs view women’s empowerment which can differ to a more western culture. I wanted to focus on the youths because Hong Kong is becoming more and more multi-cultured which enhances global feminism and allows women’s empowerment to grow. As well as, transnational feminism which explains how globalisation might benefit certain women and burden others. This connects to the content of my project because while working with the Women’s Empowerment Organisation I learnt how their work is solely focused around the idea of transitional feminism in Hong Kong which includes all nationalities, races and etc as well as benefitting all women.

My Chance to Raise Awarness

To Raise Awareness I created a survey targeted towards woman (First link) and I sent it to all of the girls in one of my classes (all from different grades) as well as attaching it to this website for you to take the survey.

Girls survey:

This was the result of the girls survey

Call to action

How to empower girls:

  1. Provide education. Giving them the power to make themselves something great without needing to rely on a male.
  2. For men: Appreciate them and treat them with the same respect you are treated with.
  3. Provide platforms where women and girls voices can be heard. In certain cultures Women’s voices can often be oppressed and ignored, however providing a platform for them to specifically speak up will encourage and empower them.
  4. Listen more and mentor young girls. We need to focus on our up coming generation and ensure they feel empowered as women and equal to men. This can be helped by mentoring young women and listening to their stories is empowering.

I also interviewed Marielle Sas (pictured below) from The Women’s Empowerment Organisation in Hong Kong:

Marielle Sas

*The blue is for my questions and the black is for Marielle’s Response.

What is the purpose of your organisation? 

TWF was established in 2004 after a group of like-minded women identified the need for an organisation that would provide a voice for women and girls in Hong Kong. Since its start, TWF has run numerous educational programs designed to reach disadvantaged women and girls in Hong Kong. Today TWF is the leading catalyst in Hong Kong for collaborative efforts to support women’s betterment in the community, identifying the issues, implementing solutions and striving for measurable change. The key elements of our model are action based on empirical research, the leveraging of institutional, academic and other resources to engineer change, and rigorous independent impact assessment. We conduct ground breaking research, run innovative community programmes, and engage in education and advocacy in the pursuit of three goals: challenging gender stereotypes, empowering women and girls in poverty, and increasing the number of women in decision-making and leadership positions. We organize our scope into two broad categories:

Community Programmes—the largest portion of our work—seek to empower and provide direct educational services to disadvantaged women and girls in Hong Kong such as T.E.E.N., Girls Go Tech, Life Skills, Financial Literacy and Employability Training programmes under the Community Programmes umbrella. 

Pipeline Programs seek to promote gender equality and women’s leadership in the workforce, with scholarships for young women to enter STEM fields of study, our Mentoring Program, 30% Club, Male Allies group and the research for and development of HR best practise guide.

What is your job in the organisation?

Development Director

What do volunteers or employees do?

Please see above, explanation of our work. Volunteers assist us in many ways; Members of Steering Committees, Pro Bono advisory and legal work, Providing workshops to our beneficiaries. 

What is equality and women empowerment like now compared to before?

In 2014, we were 81 years away from globally achieving gender equality. We are moving backwards – we are now 216 years away from gender equality. In Hong Kong there are key challenges to achieving gender equality. See attached Infographic on status of women and girls in Hong Kong.

How can I spread the message as a student? 

Learn, Partner, Support and Educate

What do you believe local people think about the women movement? 

In general the Hong Kong community people are very committed to advance the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong.

Do you think people in Hong Kong are well informed?

TWF works very hard to share statistics on the status of women and girls in Hong Kong. Often people tend to perceive Hong Kong, being a financial centre and dynamic city as a city where gender equality is already well advanced at many levels and they are surprised when we share the stats.

Post Reflection:

Through interacting with the kids at HKIS and gaining their understanding of feminism and the women’s movement in Hong Kong I found out that the stereotypical views still exist and many girls feel they still won’t be able to achieve as much as men simply because they are female (playing off of male dominance). Many of the answers I was given demonstrated how the girls portrayed themselves as more masculine to be given the same respect which further enhanced my understandings of masculinity and why it is still prominent in todays society (which is leading us further away from gender equality). Also, through talking to the Women’s Empowerment Organisation in Hong Kong I gained in depth knowledge on statistics on gender equality both world-wide and in Hong Kong. This experience has shaped my understanding of how important it is to advocate for gender equality because it has shown me that the youth still view gender equality as being far away and unachievable. I want to be able to raise awareness about this topic to make the goal more achievable because the more people that know about it the more likely we would be able to achieve this global goal. I’m left with the questions Why do the girls at HKIS who are already very privileged believe they have less of a chance than men at achieving their goals? Why are girls stereotyped at such a young age?

Work Cited:

This is the link with all my work citations on it:

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Anthea Wong

    Hi Annika! I am very intrigued by your topic, I think that the poor treatment of women in the society is a great problem we face in our modern society. I believe that in the community around me as well, there are countless of girls in high school who won’t believe they strive as high as men and instead feel that they need their help in order to have the confidence to achieve something better. There are only a handful of girls I know who demonstrate more masculinity in my school and therefore are able to create a strong image for themselves in our school community. Those girls I believe are great examples of what we should be teaching young girls to strive for. I also would like to learn about why girls are stereotyped at such a young age, and what makes some people more stereotyped that others?

    • April 29, 2019 by Annika Klaus

      Hi Anthea,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to look through my project! I agree this is a major issue in society that we have still not conquered. As for the girls at your school, that is very brave of them and I applaud them for that. Girls are set up to an impossible standard through social media, with fitness models and celebrities showing off their seemly perfect bodies, many girls feel insecure because of these stereotypes. The way their bodies should look, preferred hair colours, clothes and face. It’s a lot that the girls have to keep up with and with kids getting phones and social media at young ages such at 10, they learn to live with that worldview.

  2. April 28, 2019 by Alex.Lepa

    Hi Annika,
    Your project really hit home as I used to live in Beijing and can relate to a lot of the topics discussed. Thanks.

    • April 29, 2019 by Annika Klaus

      Hi Alex,

      I’m glad you could relate to it and I wanted people from all over to understand the cause and why I want to spread awareness, so it makes me very happy that you felt like it hit home for you!

  3. April 29, 2019 by Yasmina Haddad

    Your project peaked my curiosity because I was completely unaware about gender inequality in Hong Kong. Your presentation was really eye-opening, and I learned so much through it! Great Job!

    • May 02, 2019 by Annika Klaus

      Hi Yasmina,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my project! I’m glad you learnt about gender inequality as it’s still very prominent in many places including Hong Kong.

  4. May 05, 2019 by Alyssa.Chang

    Hi Annika! I live in Japan and ever since I moved here I notice a high level of gender inequality. It’s not common to see women holding any leadership position here in Japan; women are moved to lower positions after returning from maternity leave. Cultural and traditional beliefs of Japanese society is one of the reasons why gender inequality still exists in Japan. Do you think cultural and traditional beliefs are something that is changeable? I really like your idea of empowering girls, I think it is important for young girls to know they can and should voice their opinion and ideas whenever they want to.

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