Multiculturalism in Action 2015-16
Pakistani Culture Workshop: Making a Change for the Better
Session 5: Personal Narratives: Minority Women in a Multicultural Environment
Speakers: Multicultural Team, YMCA Cheung Sha Wan Centre, and Pakistani ladies from Sham Shui Po
On 21 November, 2015, participants of the Pakistani Culture Workshop visited YMCA Cheung Sha Wan Centre to learn about the everyday experiences of Pakistanis in Sham Shui Po, in relation to aspects such as gender, family, marriage, and migrant experiences. Participants also had the chance to practice interview skills as a preparation for their community-based projects.
Ms. Law Lap Man, Principal Program Officer of the YMCA Multicultural Team, first gave us an introduction to their work in bridging the South Asian and Chinese communities in Sham Shui Po. Pakistanis and Nepalis were the main service users and sometimes there were also Indians and Filipinos joining their programs. Apart from providing services to the South Asian residents in Sham Shui Po, the Team also managed a community shop selling handicrafts made by South Asian women as a way to supplement their family income.
During the presentation, Ms. Law highlighted the point that it was usually the mothers who came to the Center to join the programs. Even though the Center aimed at serving “parents”, the fathers seldom attended their activities. One possible reason was the gender division of labor in the family, as mothers were considered homemakers and therefore responsible for childcaring. She also mentioned that some years ago the fathers would come too, when there was a Pakistani colleague in their Team. Thus it may be that the gender concept among the fathers had discouraged their attendance.
Ms. Law then briefly outlined the history of South Asians in Hong Kong. The first generation had come with the British Army in 1848, but the term “Pakistanis” only appeared after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. More than 99% of Pakistanis in Hong Kong were Muslims. Ms. Saleena, a Pakistani colleague, reminded us that there were also some Pakistani Christians in Hong Kong, and we should not generalize the Pakistani community as a homogeneous group.