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Fri, Mar 16, 2001 - Page 3 News List

MOF appoints first female spokesperson

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Katharine Chang (張小月) yesterday became Taiwan's first female spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"I'm always afraid to be in the lead," said a smiling Chang, dressed in a dark-blue suit and sophisticated set of pearl earrings and necklace.

The 48-year-old woman has outshone her female counterparts in Taiwan's diplomatic circles since she joined the foreign service in 1976.

In January 1995, Chang became Taiwan's first female representative when she was assigned to head the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle.

In late 1997, she became Taiwan's first female ambassador when she took up the post as Taiwan's ambassador to St Kitts and Nevis and the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Chang admitted that women had some "constraints" in working as diplomats as they also had to shoulder their responsibilities as wives and mothers.

But the seasoned female diplomat said those women who were interested in joining the foreign service should shake off the expectations of society and give pursuing the path of a professional diplomat a go.

"One should live for oneself instead of living under others' expectations," Chang said.

"I don't have any children so I have relatively few obligations. And my husband has been very supportive of my job," Chang said.

When asked if she worried about the fact that her husband had stayed in Taiwan when she was posted in the West Indies, Chang's answer was firm: "I am indeed at ease as we've been married for over 20 years."

Taiwan's foreign ministry for a number of years used a quota to govern the recruitment of female diplomats, and it was not until 1996 that it was cancelled. Over the years, some women in the foreign ministry have given up their careers as diplomats because of their perceived responsibilities as wives and mothers.

Chang takes over the post of director general of the ministry's Department of Information and Cultural Affairs from Henry Chen (陳銘政). Chen was assigned to become Taipei's representative to Ireland and is scheduled to leave for his new post in Dublin on March 28.

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