Global Reach: Grantee Partners

The Zubin Mahtani Gidumal Foundation


According to the population census (2016), ethnic minorities (EM) represent around 6% of the HK population – with Filipino, Indonesian, Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistani as most prominent groups (except Chinese who account alone for 92% and White people). Their economic situation is very different from Chinese Hong Kongers with a median monthly household income significantly lower and an average poverty rate amongst the South and South-East Asian EM of 24% (highest amongst the Pakistani) against 20% in the HK population. In general, poverty among EM groups is worsening as is child poverty. From 2001 to 2011, the EM child poverty rate increased by almost 10 percent points while at the same time this rate decreased for HK Chinese children. EM populations face also regular discrimination. Poor equitable access to the education system and restrictions in their choice of school at all levels of the system is just one example. Due to lower educational attainment coupled with a weaker skill set and exacerbated by low Chinese language skills they encounter difficulties in finding and securing employment which is enforcing a vicious cycle of poverty.

In EM communities, women and girls are the most vulnerable group, exposed to different forms of violence and deprived of their rights. TZF has anecdotal evidence of Pakistani girls being excluded from upper secondary education to marry earlier (before the age of 18) – a harmful traditional practice that seems to increase under COVID-19 bringing greater economic hardship to EM families . TZF raises also the concern that the domestic violence rate of 4.7% among EM (young) women is most likely underreported as CSOs have difficulties to reach them. Their programmes with Pakistani women confirm that domestic violence is widespread in those communities. Further TZF research and experience working with girls and young women aged 15-24 found that parents traditional views and gender stereotypes hinder girls and young women to have career aspirations. Not surprisingly, as a result, EM women’s participation rate in the labor force is lower compared to their Hong Kong Chinese counterparts. TZF found that in the age groups of 15-24 and 25-34, only around a quarter of Pakistani women are engaged in employment and this percentage drops significantly to 12% once they get married and have children.


TZF was founded in 2013 by Shalini Mahtani (current CEO of TZF) and Ravi Gidumal, aiming to improve the lives of ethnic minorities (EM) living in HK, a population that is largely marginalized. The organisation strives for a systematic inclusion of this population through conducting research, developing and implementing projects and influencing public policy.

Currently, TZF runs different programmes that cater specific needs of four EM groups:

1. Programmes for EM girls and women: Examples are: 1. a helpline “Call Mira” (Hindi/Urdu/English) for EM girls and women looking for support and 2. a mentoring programme for EM young women started in 2019 (that we suggest for funding);

2. Programmes for EM young people: One example is the programme “Your Voice, Your Choice” during which around 250 young people developed different project ideas. The winning project was an idea of developing a mobile App that helps EM students to find EM tutors. The Marketing and Development Committee formed by a group of former youth project participants aims to launch the App by the end of 2020. Another example is an online hub called “Opportunity Bank” which connects EM (young) people to resources such as links to jobs and networks, upskilling training courses, scholarships or social services in a one-stop platform. It was developed in strong collaboration with TZF Youth Committee.

3. Programmes for EM parents of children with special education needs: Parents receive support from peers and guidance from clinical psychologist in workshops.

4. Programmes for the EM population: An EM Well-being Centre, run by TZF through EM counsellors, provides free counselling services to the EM population suffering from mental health issues.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 1st Girls Fund award to The Zubin Foundation (TZF) will empower 15 young ethnic minority (EM) women, aged 18 to 22, with training and mentoring and bring their voices at the centre. They will shape planning, design and implementation of the project and will be part of its monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, 3 of the 15 young EM women will be part of the project Steering Committee that will meet regularly to reflect on the project at different stages. The female project participants will participate in a series of trainings and mentoring sessions entirely grounded in their needs They will also plan and design with their 9 female mentors their own community outreach projects and will implement the wining project together in their EM communities. The exact content of the core project offers (trainings, mentoring sessions, and community outreach project) is open as it will be decided with them, but surely deal with life challenges and discrimination they often face. At the end of the project, young EM women will become visible ambassadors for their community when rolling out their outreach project.

You can support our work with The Zubin Mahtani Gidumal Foundation and our other grantee partners.

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