Evenly matched in equal rights contest

Wong Yat-hei

Use of statistics is all that divided teams from opposite sides of Victoria harbour in high-quality debate

Wong Yat-hei |

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Anita Li and Angela Ou Jiawen of Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School express their viewpoints.

Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School and Cheung Chuk Shan College met in the fifth round of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Inter-school Debating Competition last week. They tackled the motion "Hong Kong isn't doing enough to ensure gender equality". Hoi Ping was the affirmative side and Cheung Chuk Shan took the negative stance.

The debate took place on October 26, with Nesta chairperson Amanda Chapman, an English teacher from Ying Wa College, and Betty Bownath, an English teacher from TWCA Hioe Tjo Yeong College, as adjudicators.

Hoi Ping argued that women in Hong Kong are being discriminated against in several ways. They pointed out that women receive a lower income than men for the same job, and are less involved in politics. In addition, with the majority of politicians being male, women face a lot of pressure from society with regard to their appearance.

"There is a huge amount of slimming product advertising directed at women. The media and society seem to demand women look young and slim," said Form Five student Anita Li On-shun, first speaker for the affirmative. "Unmarried women in their 30s are being portrayed as 'leftover ladies', while middle-aged men are known as 'diamond bachelors'. Clearly this is unfair to women."

Cheung Chuk Shan admitted that Hong Kong does not have absolute gender equality, but is working hard to achieve that. "There are ordinances to ensure gender equality and these ordinances are updated frequently to ensure they fit in with society," said sixth former Jeremy Cheung Ka-meng, first speaker for the negative side.

Both sides argued over the case of a female teacher filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission because the school principal does not allow female teachers to wear trousers.

The negative side said the case has helped enhance gender equality in Hong Kong because it demonstrates the public's increased awareness of such issues.

The affirmative, on the other hand, said it is proof of gender inequality. "It is sad that a highly educated individual, such as a school principal, discriminates against women," said Form Three student Angel Li Ching-yu, third speaker for Hoi Ping.

Both adjudicators were impressed with the research, statistics and the arguments used by both teams. In the end, they gave the edge to Hoi Ping because Cheung Chuk Shan provided statistics that were not well-supported. "I think the presentation of the negative team was great. Their third speaker Felix Teung Shing-hay clearly owns the room as he speaks and he was doing a great job of commanding attention to himself. I was also impressed with the use of vocabulary by the negative side's speakers. If not for the statistics, they could have won," said Chapman.

Hoi Ping's clear strategy won praise. "The affirmative started off with a clear team line and was able to refer to each other during the debate. Excellent team work," Chapman concluded.

The contest is jointly organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.