Tsai criticized over gender imbalance in Cabinet

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)(CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) on Tuesday criticized Taiwan’s new Cabinet lineup, saying that the appointment of only two women among the 42 members showed little recognition on the part of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for gender equality.

Women now make up only 4.76 percent of the Cabinet, the lowest ratio in Taiwan’s democratic history and a breach of Tsai’s campaign promise of a gender balanced administration, the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee (CCC) said at a press conference.

The new Cabinet lineup initially included only two women — Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) and Fair Trade Commission Chairperson Huang Mei-ying (黃美瑛) — but the Legislature on Tuesday approved the appointment of Yang Tsui (楊翠) as the head of the Transitional Justice Commission, bringing the number to three.

At the KMT press conference, the opposition party said that while Tsai is Taiwan’s first female president, the gender imbalance in the Cabinet highlights the patriarchal culture of her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In comparison, 21.2 percent of the 3,343 government ministers around the world are women, the KMT’s CCC Director Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, citing the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report.

Wang said she hopes the Cabinet’s Gender Equality Committee will tackle the matter in its meeting this week and that Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will face the issue squarely.

Meanwhile, CCC Deputy Director Lee Yung-ping (李永萍) noted that during the KMT administration of then President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), women made up 20.8 percent of the Cabinet in 2008 and 23.4 percent in 2012.

In the previous DPP administration, during the presidency of Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the female Cabinet members were 21.4 percent in 2000 and 17 percent in 2004, Lee said.

When Tsai took office for the first time in 2016, the proportion of women in the Cabinet dropped to 10 percent, and now at the start of her second term, it has dropped to an all-time low of 4.76 percent, Lee said.

On May 19, the day before Tsai’s inauguration, a women’s rights foundation drew attention to the gender imbalance in the new Cabinet, saying it was the biggest in 30 years.

The percentage of women in Tsai’s Cabinet is even lower than in the period 1989-1990, when it was 5 percent, although there was only one female in the 20-member Cabinet of then Premier Lee Huan (李煥), the Awakening Foundation said.