Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Gender revolution bearing fruit

By Annie Lee 李安妮

While some Taiwanese men have been busy recently creating an uproar about the nation's power, some Taiwanese women have been carrying out a quiet and peaceful revolution to make Taiwan a more progressive country.

Last week, a private women's group held an international seminar on how Taiwan might become a signatory member of the UN's Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

At its 25th meeting last week, the Cabinet's Commission on Women's Rights Promotion passed an important proposal from its members from the private sector suggesting that the Cabinet and its agencies consider gender perspectives on important matters of national policy, as well as the establishment of an index to measure gender issues and an organization to track it.

The former meeting was an attempt by a non-governmental organization to push Taiwan toward more active and sensible international participation, and thereby demonstrate its society's resolve in pursuing democratization, the rule of law and human rights. The latter was an effort by the government to show Taiwan's commitment to achieving national gender equality by furthering a strategy of pushing gender issues into the mainstream.

Actually, the government already passed a set of policy guidelines and a white paper on women's issues two years and eight months ago. Aside from the usual custom of focusing the statement on topics relevant to women, these guidelines also addressed ideal gender relations in society.

Although there have been some improvements in women's rights since then, the lack of a mechanism dedicated to promoting gender equality in the Cabinet and its ministries means that there is still a long way to go to reach the gender equality goals laid out in the guidelines. This is mainly because there has been no way to effectively integrate the goals listed in the guidelines into Taiwan's overall national development plan.

If national development policy fails to consider gender issues, then the principle that all people should be able to enjoy the fruits of development could easily be forgotten. If the plan's main aim is to improve the fortunes of Taiwanese citizens, but fails to take gender perspectives into account, it's likely that only the privileged sex will benefit from it and as a result, gender relations within society will fail to improve.

In fact, this phenomenon has existed throughout the world for ages. At the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action finally called for the mainstreaming of women's issues to achieve the goal of gender equality.

Looking back on the past 10 years, as the world's advanced nations strive to develop into more civilized and progressive places, all of them have chosen to pursue a policy of mainstreaming gender issues in their development plans.

All kinds of important international organizations and forums have continued to investigate how to realize this policy in their programs. It has become clear that those countries that have integrated gender issues into the mainstream have not only improved gender relations in their societies, but have also become more competitive, leading indices that measure the development of human rights and economics.

If one wants to talk about the Democratic Progressive Party's political accomplishments since it came to power six years ago, perhaps it should be credited for laying the foundation for the mainstreaming of gender issues.

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