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Hong Kong equality chief in hot water over “sexist” remarks

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Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) chairperson is in hot water after he reportedly made “sexist” remarks during an event celebrating International Women’s Day last week. An online petition has been started demanding his apology and resignation from his post.

The news was first reported by Ming Pao. Allegedly, equality chief Alfred Chan Cheung-ming made his comments during an event organised by The Women’s Foundation, who are running a campaign “My Real Career Line”. Chan is reported to have said that women in Hong Kong have two “career lines”” – in the workplace and at home.

He also commented that men expect women to take on the important role of looking after the family, that women are not concerned about equal pay, that men cannot fulfil women’s roles in the domestic sphere, and that he will be asking his daughter – not his son – to look after him when he grows old, because “men need to work”, Hong Kong Free Press reports.

In response to his remarks, seven women’s groups have started an online petition demanding an apology and Mr Chan’s resignation as chair of the EOC. The petition argues his comments legitimised and reinforced gender stereotypes and unfair treatment of women.

Its adds that International Women’s Day is not about “praising” women’s sacrifices, but about making commitments to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination.

Commenting on the allegations, the EOC told Human Resources magazine that Mr Chan “has full respect for women”, and that his speech was intended to highlight the general circumstances and unfair treatment faced by many women.

“Professor Chan has no intention to reinforce the gender stereotyping of both sexes”, an EOC spokesperson stated. He added that the intention and meaning of Mr Chan’s remarks may not have been communicated clearly at the event.

The EOC did not comment on the calls for Mr Chan to apologise or resign, but said it understood the public’s high expectations of the EOC and that they would “be more cautious in our remarks in future to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.”

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