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The Politics of Care and Female District Councillors in Hong Kong

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This study aims to understand the difficulties faced by women politicians using a theoretical construct proposed by some feminist scholars; in particular, the tension between feminine (ethics of care) and masculine (ethics of justice) politics. The career histories of four female district councillors in Hong Kong are presented. Generally speaking, without affirmative action, it is particularly difficult for married women to juggle domestic and community roles without family support; and among younger women, few with young children or planning to have children are attracted to the long work hours, modest income, and job insecurity of a political career. We also observe that women politicians can win local elections by demonstrating that they care deeply about their electorate's needs, especially in grassroots areas, and their daily responsibilities show that much of what they do, and do well, involves care work. However, there is a disconnection between the practice of care and the masculine political power structure. We argue that a good starting point in reducing the gap is for political structures to, firstly, recognise that ethics of justice must take account of women's burden of care, and to, secondly, start 'speaking' care.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Management and Marketing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong


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