Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Union advocates for a women's welfare system

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Union of Taiwan Women Associations yesterday stated that both the Central Government and local governments were still lagging far behind international standards in promoting women's welfare.

They urged the governments to plan a comprehensive welfare system for women instead of just handing out cash as benefits.

The union said that the UN Development Fund for Women had been promoting a gender-responsive budget analysis to remind its member countries to develop gender-sensitive policies and budget plans. Since Taiwan was not a UN member, the country had not been able to keep up with the international standards for the welfare of women.

"For example, our neighbor, the Philippines, a UN member, has regulated that all government departments need to keep at least five percent of all overseas donations for gender-equality polices, but Taiwan does not have a similar policy for women," said Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), the union's chairwoman.

The union also released a report yesterday ranking last year's performances of Cabinet-level ministries and local governments in terms of promoting women's welfare. The report rated the ministries according to their women-related budgets, and the local governments according to various women-related policies and their execution.

According to the report, the central government would next year be spending NT$4,571,330 on women-related policies, or 0.28 percent of the entire year's budget of NT$1,611,281,276. It is an improvement from this year's 0.22 percent (NT$3,407,648 out of NT$1,572,367,870). In other words, every adult woman in the nation only benefited to the tune of NT$583.02 this year.

The report said that only eight Cabinet-level ministries provided budget information to the union, while other ministries refused.

The eight ministries, from the top, are the Council of Labor Affairs, the National Youth Commission, the Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Department of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Education and the Government Information Office.

As far as local governments are concerned, the union rated them mainly on the basis of women-related policies. This included whether they have carried out stipulations of the Statute on Assisting the Families of Women in Difficult Circumstances (特殊境遇婦女家庭扶助條例). like setting up women service centers, training specialized social workers for women, helping single mothers and assisting women suffering under domestic violence.

Taipei and Kaohsiung, the nation's richest cities, were naturally the top two cities in terms of resources and support for women, while Yilan County and Lianchiang County occupied the two bottom places.

"The budget plan, or how well local governments carry out the budget plan, cannot be the main criterium for their performances because very often they just hand out cash without really building up a support system for women," said Tsen Chao-yuan (曾昭媛), chief of the union's department of women policy and international affairs.

Tsen said that the local governments tended to pay a lot of cash directly to women rather than setting up welfare systems. She said there were eight areas (Hsinchu City and County, Miaoli County, Taichung County, Chiayi County, Tainan City and County and Kinmen County) that provided birth subsidies. These subsidies would often take up as much as 90 percent of the women-related budgets.

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