Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Yu approves gender equality committee

RIGHTS The premier said that the establishment of the committee, if approved by the legislature, will mark a milestone in the nation's gender-equality development

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday agreed to establish a gender equality committee (性別平等委員會) under the Executive Yuan, pending the final approval of the legislature.

"The establishment of such a committee, if approved by the legislature, not only injects new blood into the government structure but also marks a milestone in the history of gender equality," Cabinet Secretary-General Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying.

Yu made the remark yesterday afternoon in response to the request made by 11 representatives of a women's rights groups.

Since it takes longer for the Cabinet to present the proposal to the legislature, the Cabinet may ask the DPP legislative caucus to present the proposal, Liu said.

"Our goal is to have the DPP legislative caucus make the proposal during the next legislative session. I'm not optimistic about its speedy passage, however, because the draft amendments of the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) have been bogged down in the legislative procedure for over a year now," Liu said.

Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), who was in charge of reviewing the draft, said the establishment of the committee does not clash with the Cabinet's planned reconstruction project.

"The idea of government reconstruction doesn't necessarily mean downsizing. It's about streamlining," he said.

Calling Yu's decision "satisfactory," Chang Chin-fen (張晉芳), a research fellow of Academia Sinica's Institute of Sociology, yesterday said that such an establishment is necessary because issues related to gender equality have become more complicated.

"We need an effective government agency to handle thorny gender issues such as foreign and Chinese spouses, the sex industry, domestic violence and women's participation in the workforce," she said.

In addition to establishing the committee, the Cabinet will strengthen the functions of the Cabinet's ad hoc committee for the promotion of women's rights (婦女權益促進會), which was criticized by women's groups as "ineffective" because the committee meets only once every four months.

"To make the committee function more efficiently, we're thinking of upgrading the level of the executive officer from the interior minister to that of the minister without portfolio," Liu said.

The Cabinet formed the ad hoc committee in 1996 in response to pressure from women's groups after the high-profile murders of Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕) and Peng Wan-ru (彭婉如).

Pai, the 17-year-old daughter of TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping (白冰冰), was kidnapped and eventually killed in April 1997 by a gang.

Peng, a DPP advocate for women's safety and development, was raped and killed in Kaohsiung in November 1996.

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