Submission to the UN CEDAW Committee  

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On 5 April 2023, Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor submitted a parallel report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to compliment the committee’s review on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Hong Kong. The committee’s review will begin on 8 May 2023. 

The report focuses on issues that have a directly affect women workers’ rights and welfare in Hong Kong and underlines that women’s political and public life have been heavily restricted especially since the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law, with at least six women trade union leaders arrested and prosecuted for peacefully exercising their fundamental human rights. The Women’s Day March was abruptly cancelled after protest organisers were intimidated by police.   

The report details the government inactions to eliminate the employment discrimination faced by women in Hong Kong, including inadequate protection for causal women workers, gender pay gap, unequal job opportunities, a lack of social security protection for casual workers and unpaid family carers, discrimination against women employees on the basis of pregnancy or maternity, workplace sexual harassment.  

The report also points out the Equal Opportunities Commission’s inadequacies in governance and complaint handling. of the Equal Opportunities Commission, both in its governance and its complaint handling process. The report also notes that the authorities has not taken any concrete measure to revise the current “two-week rule” and “live-in policy” which put migrant domestic workers at high risk of abused and exploitation. 

The report makes recommendations including urging the Hong Kong authorities to abolish the National Security Law, to review and amend the existing Employment Ordinance and Sex Discrimination Ordinance and other relevant laws to guarantee women the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.    

List of women trade union leaders arrested/prosecuted/convicted 

Carol Ng 

  • Former chair of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions,  
  • Charged with suspicion of conspiracy to subversion under NSL because of her participation in a primary election 
  • Detained since March 2021 

Winnie Yu 

  • Former chairperson of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance 
  • Charged with suspicion of conspiracy to subversion under NSL because of her participation in a primary election 
  • First detained in March 2021, released on bail on July 2021 and detained again in March 2022 

Lorie Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng 

  • Committee members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists 
  • They published a children book series and were convicted of publishing and circulating seditious materials and sentenced to 19 months in jail 
  • Released after serving sentences 

Elizabeth Tang 

  • General Secretary of the International Domestic Workers Federation 
  • Arrested for alleged “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” 
  • Release on bail 

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