In the Hong Kong S.A.R., Mission 21 supports the population through projects focusing on education, healthcare and especially the advancement of women. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is one of the wealthier regions of China. Even here, however, poverty, violence and discrimination are commonplace.
Protection against exploitation
China is a country that is growing very rapidly. Many migrant workers (as they are called) are seeking work in the industrial centres. Working conditions are often poor and the legislative framework affords virtually no protection for employees.
Not only migrant workers but also certain foreign employees fare badly. This is true, first and foremost, of the large numbers of domestic employees from Indonesia. The number of domestic employees has risen sharply in recent years and by 2018, it had reached about 360,000. Indonesia is in a considerably worse economic situation than Hong Kong. Many women come to Hong Kong so they can enable their children back in Indonesia to have better lives. But these women have virtually no rights, and the placement agencies often take their papers away from them as they enter the country.
Combating violence against women
All too frequently, employers exploit the poor legal position of their domestic staff. Women are sometimes put out on the street arbitrarily, and they are subjected to psychological or sexual abuse. The women who are affected need protection and help. To meet this need, Mission 21 supports Christian Action, a non-government organisation in Hong Kong which offers emergency accommodation for foreign domestic employees as well as legal, psychological and medical support.
A life in dignity
As well as the poor legal position of employees, problems are also created by inadequate protective precautions in Chinese factories. These shortcomings frequently result in fatal diseases such as silicosis and benzene poisoning. Benzene is often used as a cleaning agent in the electronics industry. There is no social security and those affected have almost no chance of finding new jobs. The Christian Industrial Committee (CIC) works jointly with Mission 21 to help afflicted employees find alternative sources of income.
Together with the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, Mission 21 endeavours to bring about a democratic society that is open to the world in China. The theological college trains students to confront social issues with a critical eye, both in theory and in practice. Even while they are still studying, many of the students engage in committed work for people who are marginalised by society, justice and democracy. This work is important in creating the conditions for using social justice to counteract structural discrimination in Hong Kong, as elsewhere.
Professional support from Mission 21
Mission 21 collaborates closely with its partners, guaranteeing that they receive professional support. Mission 21's various partners in Hong Kong are in close contact with one another. Through the ecumenical network, many synergies are utilised across national borders to steadily enhance the impact of their joint work. Pressure on employers has been stepped up considerably thanks to cooperation with local media and regional government bodies. Developments on the ground are supported by specialist staff from Hong Kong and abroad.