Fri, Jan 27, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Holiday highlights gender inequality

For many in Taiwan, Lunar New Year holidays are the most festive days of the year, characterized by family reunions and seemingly endless feasts, but the way traditional holidays are celebrated remains a constant reminder of gender inequality in the nation, despite the election of its first female president a year ago.

Lunar New Year’s Eve, today, is the primary day for family reunions. Unfortunately, if you are a married woman in Taiwan, social conventions dictate that you spend the day with your husband’s side of the family at his parents’ home.

While some modern families have adopted a more equal division of labor in food preparation for the New Year’s Eve dinner, in most cases the burden still falls primarily on the female members of the family.

Even with Taiwan’s dismal birth rate and the widening ratio of men to women — which, according to the Ministry of the Interior’s latest statistics, stands at 99.1:100 — few changes have been made over the past decades to address the inequality caused primarily by the nation’s patriarchal society and its deeply rooted ideas of traditional gender roles.

While President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) victory in last year’s presidential election has been hailed by gender equality advocates as a significant milestone not only for Taiwan, but for all of Asia, women today are still restricted by gender stereotypes and traditional family values at home as well as in the workplace.

According to data compiled by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), the female workforce constituted 4.96 million people in Taiwan in 2015, up from 4.19 million a decade ago.

Though this might seem like progress on the surface, a closer look at the DGBAS’ statistics shows that marriage continues to be a hurdle to women’s career advancement.

Unmarried Taiwanese men and women have a similar rate of participation in the labor force, with the former at 64.3 percent and the latter at 61.5 percent in 2015. However, 70.5 percent of married men were in the job market, compared with only 49.6 percent of married women in the same year.

These figures are not much different from those recorded in 2005, when 75.7 percent and 47.7 percent of married men and women worked, respectively.

They serve as proof that despite years of gender equality education and relentless efforts by female rights advocates, women still encounter great difficulties trying to break the shackles of gender stereotypes and remain the ones who are expected to sacrifice their careers for their families.

A survey conducted in 2013 by online human resources advisory firm 1111 Job Bank also underscores the challenges Taiwanese women face.

The poll found that about 80 percent of female respondents who are married or have kids altered their career plans due to marriage or childbearing, including changing to a job that allows them to attend to home and family matters (39.4 percent), leaving the job market (37 percent) and applying for long-term leave without pay (3.5 percent).

Although in recent years remarkable progress has been made in terms of female education and participation in politics, there is still much room for improvement in chasing away outdated concepts about gender roles and division of household chores, as well as caring for children and elderly people.

This story has been viewed 11289 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top