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Ms Puja Kapai Paryani

Interdisciplinary Quick Talks: Open Data Open Possibilities

Ms Puja Kapai Paryani

Ms Puja Kapai Paryani
Associate Professor
Department of Law

Disaggregated Data and its Potential for Corrective Justice in an Age of Inequality


The government’s official narrative around racial discrimination in Hong Kong, both before and after the handover, has largely been that it does not exist and is not a problem in Hong Kong. When introducing a law to combat racial discrimination in accordance with its obligations under the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Government reaffirmed this stance. However, it noted that Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s world city and international financial centre, businesses were increasingly in favour of legal protections against racial discrimination to attract talented individuals of diverse backgrounds to work with them. While civil society organisations had long been advocating the introduction of legislation against racial discrimination, they had primarily relied on stories of rampant racial discrimination from ethnic minority communities themselves to demonstrate the hardships and exclusion they faced. However, in 2015, for the first time, using data available through the Census and Statistics Department, The Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997-2014 Report pulled together data pertaining to Hong Kong’s ethnic minority populations in a wide range of areas including education, employment, income, poverty, home ownership, household size and living arrangements. Access to such data enabled the formulation of a pan-ethnic impression of the status of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities across various life domains. Moreover, it enabled more sophisticated analyses to be performed by disaggregating the data by ethnicity, age and gender and other metrics. This output has enabled a shift in the discourse around racial discrimination and its prevalence in Hong Kong. At the same time, it has facilitated a more nuanced approach to problematizing racial discrimination and identifying targeted solutions for particular communities and segments of this population made possible through intersectional analysis. The Report made a number of recommendations, some of which have now been taken up by the Government and are being implemented in various policy areas. This presentation documents this journey, highlighting the importance and indispensability of open data to better understand and address complexities around racial disparities as borne out by the data.


Puja Kapai is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong where she serves as the Convenor of the Women’s Studies Research Centre. Her research expertise lies in international human rights law, in particular, equality law and minority rights. She has also led numerous research projects including a comparative study on the experiences and help seeking behaviours of ethnic minority and immigrant victims of domestic violence and a comprehensive report on the Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997-2014 (which was presented to the then Chief Secretary and now Chief Executive of the HKSAR Administration, Mrs. Carrie Lam). Several recommendations made in her research reports have recently been implemented at the policy level.

She has regularly appeared before the Hong Kong Legislative Council to present on issues impacting ethnic minorities, women and children as well as before the United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies, including the Human Rights Committee and the Children’s Rights Committee in 2013 and the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2018 in their hearings on Hong Kong. Puja served as Expert Consultant to the Due Diligence Project on Violence Against Women for the Asia Pacific Region which was presented to the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. She presently serves as a Founding member of the Every Woman Every Where initiative at the Carr Centre for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School of Government as well as on the board of various NGOs related to her fields of expertise.

Professor Kapai was awarded the International Women of Courage Hong Kong Award 2015 by the Consul General of the United States of America in Hong Kong, the Faculty of Law’s Outstanding Teaching Award 2016 and its Knowledge Exchange Award 2017 in recognition of her contribution to teaching and the impact of her work in the community. In 2018, she was nominated for the American Chamber of Commerce’s Women of Influence Awards 2018.

Presentation slides