Wed, May 04, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Women’s groups protest lack of women in Cabinet

By Chen Hui-ping and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Women’s rights groups demonstrate in front of the Democratic Progressive Party’s headquarters in Taipei yesterday, protesting that there are only four women in the 40-member incoming Cabinet.

Photo: CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has not only failed to live up to the legacy of Peng Wan-ju (彭婉如), but the government under the nation’s first female president will feature a 40-member Cabinet with just four women, women’s rights groups said yesterday during a protest outside DPP headquarters in Taipei.

During the protest, an article published in yesterday’s Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) by women’s rights campaigner Lee Yuan-chen (李元貞) was read out loud.

Lee, who served as national policy adviser to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), criticized the gender imbalance in the proposed Cabinet.

Tsai’s gender equality policy in 2012 promised that the gender ratio in governments — whether local or central, and regardless of pay grade — would at least be one-third women, but the last time there were so few women in the Cabinet was under then-premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) in 1997, she wrote. Tsai’s recent predecessors have done better, Lee said, referring to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chen.

Representatives of the Awakening Foundation, the Homemaker Union Consumer Co-op, the Garden of Hope Foundation and other groups put on a short play during the protest, showing Tsai closing a door behind her and picking just male staff.

Lee said she turned down an invitation to Tsai’s post-inaugural banquet because even though she is happy to see Tsai become the nation’s first female president, Tsai has “failed to live up to Peng’s legacy of introducing women to politics in the DPP.”

Peng, director of the DPP’s Women’s Affairs Department before she was murdered on Nov. 30, 1996, in Kaohsiung, is remembered for pushing for a legal amendment guaranteeing that at least one-quarter of all politicians should be female.

Garden of Hope Foundation executive manager Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said women’s rights groups will not give Tsai a honeymoon period after her inauguration because of her disappointing performance so far.

The groups plan to closely monitor Tsai’s administration.

Premier-designate Lin Chuan (林全) evidently lacks a sensitivity to gender issues since his Cabinet list includes many middle-aged to elderly men, Chi said, adding that the groups would watch how Lin’s Cabinet handles gender issues.

Executive Yuan spokesperson-designate Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said that while Lin had reached out to many women, the “current results are not what was anticipated, but we are working toward that goal.”

The incoming government’s policies and decisions would emphasize the different thoughts across genders and seek to encourage women to enter politics, Tung said, adding that the incoming government hoped for “women in government’ to be a mainstream value in Taiwan’s future.

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