Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Peace prize boosts women’s rights

By Mayo Kuo(郭明裕) and Max Kuo(郭明實)

On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to three women — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian columnist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkul Karman. Of the three, Sirleaf has attracted most attention.

Sirleaf was elected president in November 2005, becoming Africa’s first elected female head of state. Inspired by her, many female candidates have been running for president across Africa, in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, and Niger in recent years. This shows that the public are paying more attention to the issue of gender equality in Africa and that Sirleaf is a pioneer of gender equality.

Many researchers believe that, thanks to the “Sirleaf phenomenon,” more women in developing countries are gaining economic and political power, and that this will help reduce conflict and promote prosperity.

In Asia, the opposition parties were unanimous in their support of Corazon Aquino in the 1986 Philippine presidential election, helping her to defeat authoritarian president Ferdinand Marcos and become the country’s first female president. In 2004, Gloria Arroyo became the Philippines’ second female president. In India, Pratibha Patil was elected the country’s first female president in July 2007. These three cases show that the issue of gender equality has long received much attention in Asia, Aquino being a pioneer of gender equality in this part of the world.

Taiwan is ahead of China in terms of democratic development. Following Japanese colonial rule and the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, the nation has experienced transitions of government in 2000 and in 2008. Recently, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) brilliant speeches and question and answer sessions at Harvard University in the US and Waseda University in Japan showed Taiwanese that she is a rational, calm and composed presidential candidate. A comparison with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who performs poorly and receives poor approval ratings, makes the advantages and shortcomings of the two all but obvious.

Sirleaf being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is also a great encouragement to women’s rights in Asia and to Tsai. The KMT’s presidential campaign slogan “Taiwan Cheers, Great” would be very suitable to promoting the global trend toward women’s rights and it is also suitable to promote the election of Tsai.

The people of Taiwan should shout out: “Women’s Rights Above All, Taiwan Cheers.”

Mayo Kuo is a Taiwan-based pediatrician; his brother Max Kuo is a US-based pediatrician.


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