'They earn less and are not catered for in retirement' Unskilled female workers earn about half of what their male counterparts make, according to poverty concern groups. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service and Hong Kong Oxfam analysed data from the Census and Statistics Department and found the women's median monthly pay was $3,670 last year, compared to the men's $6,500. 'Our analysis showed that these women - who mostly only have a primary school education - are making less money than men because of their family role,' said Oxfam's Hong Kong programme manager, Joseph Woo Man-lung. 'They tend to take jobs which are near where they live and give them flexibility in working hours. 'Structural changes in the economy are forcing many women to take up low-paid jobs, especially those who are single parents and whose husbands are unemployed. The problem is getting worse.' Christine Fang Meng-sang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, said the mandatory provident fund failed to meet the needs of the women. 'Though employers still make contributions, the amount is too little - 5 per cent of less than $4,000 is surely not enough to support them after they have retired.' Employees earning less than $5,000 a month do not need to contribute, but their employers contribute 5 per cent of the employees' income. Domestic employees are exempt from the scheme. Ms Fang said there was a pressing need for the government to formulate a more comprehensive retirement programme. Hong Kong Oxfam's executive director, Chong Chan-yau, said the problem of women living in poverty would be exacerbated by the low birth rate and the ageing population. 'These women will not have children to take care of them when they are old, and they are incapable of making enough money to plan their future,' he said. In 2033, the number of old women will reach 1.3 million, accounting for 58 per cent of the elderly population, according to the Census and Statistics Department. At present, 180,000 Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients are elderly people and the groups estimate that the number will rise to 500,000 in 30 years. 'If the government does not take action now, it will face an enormous financial burden brought by the increasing number of women in poverty,' he said.