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Tue, Jan 18, 2000 - Page 3 News List

New proposals to woo women

PRESIDENTIAL RACE The DPP candidate is offering more help for working moms and women seeking to re-enter the labor market

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday expounded further on his women's issues platform, providing more filling to his "crystal dumpling" theory. The "stuffing" of such dumplings, he said, are policies that emphasize both social welfare and employment for women.

Chen said career women have long struggled to juggle their jobs and their home-making responsibilities. He said his campaign platform policies are designed to solve such problems.

He said that if elected, child-care and senior-care programs would be offered, with the work undertaken by housewives or other women looking to reenter the job market through jobs within their communities.

Chen explained these care-giver jobs would be paid welfare work offered by and planned by the government and community groups.

Such jobs, he said, would encourage married women to participate in the labor market.

The welfare programs, he said, would be based on the non-profit principle. The fees for such services would be low, he said, with most families being charged at cost, while low-income families would receive government subsidies.

"This is the New Middle Way (新中間路線) for women," said Chen.

At a news conference yesterday, Chen presented several plans for such caretaker programs, including a babysitters' community support system, an after-school care plan for students, community counseling efforts, a foster care system and a long-term senior citizens' care system.

Chen said his new caregiver programs would not end up costing the government very much.

"This is a illustration of social justice at work," he said.

Chen's new policy proposals received support from social welfare scholars.

Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君), a labor studies expert at National Chengchi University, said the proposals would not increase the government's financial expenditures because the welfare programs were combined with employment promotion.

As employment rises, incomes increase and the government's tax base also expands, Liu said. Therefore, welfare will grow without adding taxation, she added.

In fact, these programs are not just pipedreams, said Chang Ya-hui (張雅惠), secretary general of the Peng Wang-ru Foundation (彭婉如基金會), but have already been put into practice in five regions in Taiwan.

During Chen's tenure as Taipei mayor from 1995 to 1998, the foundation -- a women's group -- cooperated with the city government on a series of after-school care programs called "Community Mama" plans.

According to Chang, hundreds of women were recruited, starting two years ago, to care for students in dozens of elementary schools in Taipei. The programs have since spread to five cities and counties.

In Taipei City, the "community mamas" are paid NT$200 per hour and work a six-hour day. The salaries for the "mamas" plus material costs are the only expenses for such programs.

According to Chang, the average charge to families participating in the programs is NT$2,600.

The government is only responsible for providing places for the groups to meet and administrative support, she said.

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