This paper examines three aspects of gender and political participation in Hong Kong. We analysed gender participation in the formal governing institutions, the electoral processes, and in the community. We found that women were under-represented at both the central and local levels of governing institutions, and in the top tiers of the administrative and judicial systems. The proportion of women in advisory and statutory bodies has remained relatively low. While there is no significant gender gap in the number of registered voters and in voter turnout rates, the proportion of women candidates remains low in both the District Council and Legislative Council elections. In political parties, women are under-represented in party membership as well as in the nomination of candidates for elections. The persistence of a gender gap in formal participation is the result of the interplay of various elements, including gender roles, familial responsibilities, differences in socioeconomic resources, the constitutional setting and partial democratization, as well as the lack of affirmative action in pursuing gender equality in political representation. Gender segregation in employment and the low labour force participation rate of women have particularly contributed to inequality in functional constituency elections. Experiences from other countries indicate that adopting quota systems and reforming electoral laws may help strengthen the formal participation of women. Similar to formal participation, in community participation women face the challenge of gender socialization as well as differential access to resources and channels for participation. The long history of state penetration into the local community through the district administrative apparatus has resulted in a community leadership culture that is conservative, paternalistic, patriarchal, and hierarchical, which contributes to the exclusion of women from leadership positions.
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