Thu, Nov 15, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Women must break political ceiling

By Hsu Chia-ching 徐佳青

In the New Party, which nominates a large number of candidates, the ratio of female candidates is close to one-third of their total candidates nominated. Unfortunately the New Party's power is insufficient, but it is nevertheless an important example for the non-local party grouping.

Looking at the county commissioner and mayoral races, the six counties and cities for which women have been nominated are Hsinchu, Taichung and Chiayi cities, and Changhua, Hualien and Penghu counties.

Compared to the previous county commissioner and mayoral elections where there were five female candidates, this number is slightly higher. However, the DPP, the KMT and the PFP have all only nominated one woman each for county commissioner seats, and the TSU and New Party entered no women in those races.

There are also quite a few female independent candidates this year, beating their own path among the men. Nevertheless, we can already predict that the number of female county commissioners in the coming term will be markedly lower than during the previous term.

It's also worth mentioning that the only female county commissioner candidates nominated by the DPP, the KMT and the PFP are all concentrated in Changhua County. That fact has the media incessantly hyping the race as "a war among women," while ignoring the actual abilities and special qualities of these candidates.

The PFP candidate Cheng Hsiu-chu (鄭秀珠), for example, seeks approval by constantly stressing that she is the wife of a certain person, but she herself does not have any past record of outstanding political achievement. This makes her compete on a completely different level from the other candidates Weng Chin-chu (翁金珠) and Yeh Chin-feng (葉金鳳), who both have worked thoroughly on the grassroots-level and possess real political strengths. Cheng's inclusion in the race is not political strategy, but would be better said to be the PFP's way of muddling in the election campaign, rather than doing anything good for the people of Changhua county.

Looking at the total number of female candidates, this election is definitely no substantial breakthrough for women in politics. Instead it shows that women participating in politics in the future must develop more efficient strategies so they can break through the restrictions of the present nomination system. If women fail to succeed in this endeavor, they will be restricted to a certain proportion, making overall improvements in the political climate, or elevating female political participation, more difficult.

I would propose that perhaps women in similar political groupings in the future could consider reorganizing into a different kind of political party. Female politicians in the non-local faction, for example, could join together to demand that the parties they belong to lay down a set of nomination principles regulating the proportion of male and female candidates based on a cross-comparison between and monitoring of political parties.

Women in political parties that fall short of requirements should seek to form an alliance with other political parties, combining into a political group and expanding the overall influence of women in politics. At the same time women should force parties to develop a more socially advanced way of thinking, instead of following the logic of the current partisan reshuffle, which only allows female politicians to become party propaganda products rather than develop into truly influential, independent leaders.

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