Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday that she believes the old adage "women hold up half the sky," used to inspire women to transcend the inferior position they held in traditional society, is no longer a slogan but a global trend.
Speaking in front of a group of successful businesswomen from around the world, Lu said she had spent an enormous amount of time "surfing a sea of data" before coming to the conclusion that the 11.21 million of women in Taiwan -- around 350,000 less than the male population -- certainly do hold up half the sky.
Lu, who was attending a forum on the global influence of Chinese businesswomen, sponsored by the Global Federation of Chinese Businesswomen in Taipei, said that higher education is an important source of power to women.
Lu said that 30 years ago, 25 percent of Taiwanese women were illiterate while only 2.4 percent of women were educated in colleges, universities or other higher education institutes, compared with 5.7 percent of men.
Today, she said, just 5 percent of women are illiterate in Taiwan, while 22.6 percent of Taiwanese women now have a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, compared with 26 percent of men.
Thirty years ago, 40 percent of working women in Taiwan worked in the manufacturing sector.
As time passed, the situation changed -- 69 percent of employed women were working in the services industry last year, Lu said, noting that today nine of the world's 192 nations have a female vice president.
Eight of 47 Cabinet members,and 233 of more than 600 county and city councilors in Taiwan are women, while in the Legislative Yuan there are currently 47 female lawmakers, the vice president noted.
The federation, founded in 1980, is a Taipei-based non-profit organization with 22 chapters around the world. It is dedicated to promoting economic relations. In her speech, Lu also mentioned her future programs concerning women's affairs, the first of which is organizing a summer camp this year for young women who are talented in various professional fields.
Second, Lu said that she will urge the government to establish a "good housekeeper" program to help unemployed single mothers find jobs, and learn useful skills like housekeeping.