How the Hong Kong government can help boost the number of women politicians

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 October, 2011, 12:00am


This year there are fewer women standing for election to district councils than in 2007. Are there fewer women than men in Hong Kong, or are women no longer interested in politics?

In fact, Hong Kong population statistics show that more than 53 per cent of residents are female this year (3.792 million out of 7.108 million). Another interesting finding is that 50.06 per cent of registered voters are women (1.782 million / 3.56 million), for the first time exceeding male voters. So women are the majority and are interested in politics by registering themselves as voters.

So it is disappointing to see that the number of women politicians has not increased. The percentage of women standing for District Council election this year is even smaller than in 2007. It is 17.6 per cent (165 women out of 935 total) this year versus 18.1 per cent (78 women / 405 total) in 2007. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong is the only party fielding more female candidates this year, 30 per cent more than in the 2007 elections (41 vs 31).

Although the government has provided better opportunities for women to participate in public affairs, women still account for a very low proportion of politicians. Only 18 per cent of legislative councillors are women (11 out of 60). For district councillors, the figure is 19.26 per cent (78 women out of 405); the ratio is even lower on the Election Committee, 13.44 per cent of whose members are women (107 out of 796).

Time is the main obstacle for women. Most women work during the day and take care of family at night. If such women perform their duties without support from others, it is impossible for them to spend time on anything other than family matters.

The government ought to have a target of having not less than 30 per cent of women at all levels of statutory bodies and consultative councils. Most European countries, and China, have such a target. The government should increase resources to set up platforms and women's centres to provide training and support for women to participate in politics. The government should also encourage community organisations to include more women in their standing committees.

It benefits society to have more female voices. Many people believe women can balance the more aggressive nature of men. This is helpful and necessary for a harmonious society.

Dr Ann Chiang, vice-chairperson of the HK Federation of Women and of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong