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Tue, Nov 30, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Peng's ideas still a beacon for women

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Huang said the one-fourth principle also applies to the KMT's election nomination procedure.

"We have 29 women elected in the Taipei City Council and 43 in the legislature, which is a great leap of numbers from that of the past," she said.

As the director of women's affairs, Huang has been making efforts toward the creation of women's organizations in the central government, especially after the Peng murder. She said she was invited to present ideas to the KMT's central standing committee.

In her presentation, Huang proposed forming an official agency under the Executive Yuan to be in charge of national women's affairs. That led in April 1997 to the formation of the Cabinet-level Women's Rights Promotion Committee. The next year, the Sexual Assault Prevention Law and the Domestic Violence Prevention Law passed the legislature.

In the eyes of women's groups, however, the KMT made these moves out of political motives.

Peng Yen-wen (彭渰?), a promotion director of the Awakening Foundation, was less optimistic than Liao and Huang about women's political participation.

She pointed out that the ratio of female government section chiefs to that of men is still relatively small. Moreover, Peng said, neither the central governments nor local governments have plans to promote women officials.

There are five top female officials in the Cabinet, six in the Taipei City government, and one in the Kaoshiung City government.

"But if we look at the numbers of officials at the deputy level, we find hardly any women in any of these governments," Peng said.

This would suggest female chiefs were merely promoted as tokens in the governments, she said, adding that neither KMT- nor DPP-led governments have substantial plans to develop and promote women cadres, she said.

Liu Yu-hsiu (劉毓秀), a director and one of the founders of the Peng Wan-ru Foundation, echoed Peng. She said recent changes do not necessarily mean that women have access to power-sharing.

Created the year after Peng's death, the foundation has embarked on a different route to promote women's participation in politics -- that is, a "bottom up" strategy.

In the past three years, the group has been working on building women's community organizations in Taipei. The Taipei City government's efforts at promoting homemakers' participation in local issues have already had a significant impact on the city government's policies, Liu said.

According to Liu, community police patrol routes are now decided by women organized by the group. And children's after-school daycare services are also provided by community "mamas."

Liu said that through such methods, women could join the decision-making process in the formation of public policy.

In addition, the Peng Wan-ru Foundation was the first women's group to take an overt political stand, by supporting Chen Shui-bian (3?糮?/CHINESE>) and the DPP.

It has previously been a big mistake for women's groups to take an impartial position toward political parties, she said.

"If women want to share more political power, they need to cooperate with the state. We are proud that our group is the first to step into politics, because women's interests cannot be separated," she said.

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