Tsai vows to help more women join workforce

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Tsai Ing-wen said the government would strive to enact policies removing obstacles to women’s participation in the workforce, in a speech marking International Women’s Day Wednesday.

International Women’s Day was observed with events islandwide, including the launch of several gender-equality initiatives. Speaking at an event hosted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Tsai said the government would work hard to improve gender equality in Taiwan and would be dedicated to ensuring that women were able to fulfill their own dreams.

The fight for gender equality had stemmed from female workers looking for dignity in their work as well as financial security, Tsai said.

But the president was quick to underscore that founders of the movement were well aware that women being able to achieve financial independence was only the first step to achieving gender equality. She described how in the modern society a portion of “female power” was still suppressed. A clear indication of this, she said, was how the number of women in the workforce decreased dramatically after the age of 30, with women often being forced to give up working work due to marriage or children. Tsai highlighted the government’s efforts to support working mothers, pointing to existing laws that require companies with over 100 employees to provide child care facilities. The president said such support not only helped employees care for their children, but also increased productivity. Empowering Women Meanwhile, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation’s “AMA Museum” — dedicated to honoring Taiwanese women forced into sexual slavery during the period of Japanese colonial rule — officially opened its doors after a three-month trial run.

The museum is the first-ever women’s human rights museum established by a non-governmental organization in Taiwan. The museum’s founders said that it stood as testament to the surviving Taiwanese victims of the Japanese, as well as the foundation’s 25-year campaign for justice and humanitarian values.

A center in Yulin County providing welfare assistance, psychological counseling sessions, literature on gender equality, seminars and professional training sessions for women also opened on Wednesday. The center is open Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The county’s efforts to promote gender equality earned the center commendation from the Executive Yuan. In Taichung, the fire brigade put on a special group training session for women on fire safety and prevention. The fire brigade said it was seeking to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as provide training on preventing fires at home. Not All Were Happy Campers Despite the celebratory atmosphere seen elsewhere in the country, Chen I-chun, director of the Kuomintang’s women’s department, said women’s rights were not advancing under Tsai’s administration. She cited that the new workweek law, which she said was viewed unfavorably by 70 percent of women in terms of providing a friendly working environment.

Chen also cited a report from the U.S. State Department that said mainland Chinese and foreign spouses in Taiwan were subject to discrimination.