Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) praised Paraguay on Sunday as more advanced than Taiwan because the South American country could have a female candidate in its presidential election next year.
"An old geezer in Taiwan once said he did not think someone wearing a skirt would make a good commander-in-chief when I was running in my party's primary," Lu said. "Paraguay apparently is more advanced than Taiwan as it is ready to allow someone wearing a skirt to lead the country."
Lu was referring to former presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), who defended his comment as having been made in the context of the Chinese military threat.
Lu quoted Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos as saying he would encourage Taiwan to emulate his country in this regard during his visit to Taipei in October.
Lu made the remarks while addressing a cocktail party that was part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties.
Duarte reaffirmed diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which he said would stand the test of time.
Lu, who is on a 12-day journey to three of the nation's allies in Central America and the Caribbean, left for Guatemala yesterday. She was to make a refueling stop in Panama and meet Panamanian Vice President Samuel Lewis Navarro.
During a chat with female members of the Paraguayan Cabinet on Sunday afternoon, Lu said that although women's rights in Taiwan have improved over the years and more women have been recruited to the Cabinet or elected to the legislature, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
She also encouraged women to become more involved in politics, the judiciary and law enforcement and to become decision-makers on matters of national policy.
Describing the face-to-face talk between the two countries' women as a "historic moment" and a "brand new beginning," Lu invited the Cabinet members to visit Taiwan to hold more in-depth conversations.
Lu said she intended to work toward the creation of a center for women's rights in the Pacific.
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