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The Women’s Foundation (TWF), a nonprofit organisation in Hong Kong dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, held their first virtual gala last week.

The event featured a fireside chat between Julia Gillard, the 27th (and first female) Prime Minister of Australia, and Christine Loh, chief development strategist, Institute for the Environment at HKUST. It was moderated by David Ingles, anchor and head of markets coverage for Bloomberg TV Asia.

The discussion addressed the challenges women leaders face, what effective leadership looks like under COVID-19 and whether current conditions will help to accelerate gender equality.

“COVID-19 has exposed inequalities and disproportionately impacted the women and girls of our city. We must face these challenges with courage and community, inspiring the bold endeavours that make change possible so that women and girls aren’t the victims of COVID-19 but part of the solution. Together, we can fuel a future that is gender equal once and for all,” said Fiona Nott, CEO of The Women’s Foundation.

Under the theme “Facing Challenge, Fuelling Change,” TWF is re-committed to forging a path forward that is gender equal to address concerning issues including low female workforce participation rates, lack of support for women in poverty, persistent gender stereotypes and pervasive gender-based violence.

COVID-19 has only exacerbated inequalities women face across the city. Women have also disproportionately suffered from extra care responsibilities, unequal access to technology, financial vulnerability and poor mental health, which is amplified among marginalised groups of women. During the height of social distancing measures, some NGOs noted a 25-30% increase the use of their hotlines to report instances of domestic and sexual violence.

“We are extremely proud to support the work of TWF, as we also share a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion and allyship. Building the pipeline for women to succeed has never been more important and their contribution cannot be understated. We thank them for their continued efforts in advancing positive change in every one of their activities,” said Bing Li, head of APAC for Bloomberg.

The funds raised from the gala event will be used to support their programmes, initiatives, research and advocacy that tackle issues facing women and girls across Hong Kong, including new initiatives that will target adverse impacts of the pandemic on women and girls.