Sun, Mar 09, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen says he'll push for equality

WOMEN'S DAY The president says he wants to make women feel `light and warm in their everyday life' and praised the nation's women for their contributions

CNA , TAIPEI

Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang, center, and Council for Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu sing together in a ceremony yesterday to honor female government officials on International Women's Day. The Ministry of Interior was honored for giving women the biggest share of high-level positions. Twenty-three of the ministry's 41 senior positions are occupied by women.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) addressed the nation's women yesterday, International Women's Day, saying that the government will do all it can to push for gender equality.

The president said in his televised broadcast that to enact laws to establish gender equality, create a social welfare system and lighten the burden on women has always been on his mind.

Chen also said that to make women feel "light and warm in their everyday life" is the government's responsibility.

The president lauded Tai-wanese women for their unselfish contributions. He said that career women have to take care of their work and families at the same time. With such responsibilities, they are strained physically and emotionally, and men are largely unaware of the pressures that they face.

Regarding housewives, he said they are often marginalized despite the fact that they face pressures and burdens at home.

The president added that some have said that his wife, Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), made a great contribution to the nation when she made a successful visit to the US last September.

But Chen said Wu told him that "as a housewife, my biggest contribution is raising our children and serving as the backbone of my husband."

The first family has two children; the daughter is a dentist, the son, who has followed in his father's footsteps by studying law, is doing his compulsory military service after graduating from National Taiwan University.

The president said that he agreed with his wife and wants to pay the highest tribute to the women who have contributed to Taiwan.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun also promised to improve the protection of women's careers in a ceremony yesterday to honor central government agencies which give women key roles in policy-making.

long way to go

The premier said respect for women is an indicator of a country's level of advancement and that, in this regard, Taiwan still has a long way to go.

During yesterday's ceremony, the Ministry of Interior was honored for giving women the biggest share, 56 percent, of its high-level positions. Twenty-three of the ministry's 41 senior officials are women.

In related news, more than 60 percent of Taiwanese women responding to a survey said they fear for their personal safety, while 42.7 percent said they were at risk of domestic violence.

The poll, conducted by the PFP, received valid responses from 710 women over 20 years old and had a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

PFP Legislator Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠) said yesterday that the results show that 63.9 percent of women are not confident about their own safety and that the government should do more to ensure their safety so they can be free from fear of harm as guaranteed by the Constitution.

She said that women care most about education of their children, social order, family finances and the economy, domestic violence and employment, in that order. Chin urged the government to make progress in those areas.

PFP Legislator Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕) said that a committee to promote the rights of women under the Executive Yuan has been in place for some time, but has yet to have any effect. She suggested that a ministry of women's affairs be established to handle women's rights.

domestic violence

PFP Legislator Lee Yung-ping (李永萍) pointed to the study result and said that the percentage of women who fear for their safety is the highest since she began campaigning for women's rights a decade ago.

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