Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s public relations team has been hard at work, I’m sure, and kudos to them for a nice touch on his social media and in his speech at the International Women’s Day reception hosted by the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau and Women’s Commission last week.
For those who missed it, images were posted of Lee with the six female principal officials of his administration. The six make up more than 23 per cent of his principal officials. Not bad.
For his speech, he shared – in Cantonese – that “from personal experience, I have to obey my wife’s wishes at home, cooperate with the arrangements by the female director of the Chief Executive’s Office Carol Yip Man-kuen; and I have to listen to the opinions of the convenor of the Executive Council, Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.”
Lee delivered that speech with a rare lightheartedness. And he can afford to let loose a little, coming from the high of being singled out by President Xi Jinping just days earlier, at the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress’ first plenary session in Beijing. To be among a sea of suits and have the president stop to greet you is no small matter.
More than two decades ago, then president Jiang Zemin also singled out a Hongkonger in the Great Hall of the People, for a handshake. That was Tung Chee-hwa, and having been anointed by the president, he went on to be Hong Kong’s first chief executive.
Xi’s greeting of Lee, in an assembly of the most powerful people that make up the highest organ of state power, is much more than a reception handshake. And the significance has not been lost on the media and the public.
Supporting and giving women the recognition they deserve shouldn’t just be a “nice touch”. Considering the needs of women must be a permanent part of policymaking. Measuring the impact of policies on families would address a lot of the problems women face.
As the government pushes for residents to take up opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, has it considered how that would affect those who are holding up half the sky? Will they be strapped down by more family-care duties, shut out from all that the future holds for others?
An interesting survey released by the Hong Kong Women’s Union found that women feel more content when they have higher educational attainment, a bigger home and as they grow older. Surely, happiness and a sense of fulfilment should not be withheld from women, or treated as delayed gratification.