Mon, Jul 30, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Monuments unveiled to celebrate feminist sites

CHANGESome NGOs were honored for helping to raise public awareness of gender equality issues and for offering a variety of services to women

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu, second right, unveils a bronze plaque near the site of Pioneer Publishing House in Taipei yesterday. Lu was part of a group of feminists who founded the publishing house, which specializes in feminist books, in 1976.


The National Cultural Association yesterday unveiled six monuments in Taipei to mark the sites of non-governmental organizations (NGO), a publishing house and a bookstore that contributed to the nation's feminist movement.

"Many outstanding women contributed to our history and culture, and we shall not forget them," Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀),secretary-general of the association, told a crowd gathered at a ceremony to unveil a bronze plaque near the site of Pioneer Publishing House in Taipei.

The publishing house, which specializes in feminist books, was founded in 1976 by a group of feminists including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

The idea for setting up such monuments came from a book.

"Last year, we published a book called Women's Footprints that collected 17 stories of the Taiwanese feminist movement through field investigations and interviews," the association's deputy secretary-general Chen Hsiu-hui (陳秀惠) said. "We've decided to set up these monuments so that the readers may physically follow the footprints."

Similar monuments were also unveiled earlier this year in Tamsui and Tainan, and more monuments will be set up in the future, she said.

In addition to the bronze plaque near the site of Pioneer Publishing House, bronze plaques and a bronze statue were also unveiled to mark the sites of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), the Awakening Foundation, the Homemakers' Union and Foundation (HUF), Fembooks and the Women's League of the Republic of China.

"These organizations are all forerunners of the Taiwanese feminist movement," Chen said.

Aside from raising public awareness on gender equality, NGOs such as the YWCA and Women's League focus on involving women in humanitarian services, the HUF aims to increase women's involvement in environmental protection efforts, while Fembooks is the first bookstore in Taiwan that specializes in selling books on women-related topics, Chen said.

Invited to deliver remarks at the occasion, Lu told the audience that she remembered the harsh political and social pressures feminists experienced 30 years ago.

"Out of 15 books we've published, 10 were banned by the government because we exposed a dark side of society," Lu said. Abuse of female workers and prostitution were issues discussed in the banned books, she said.

In addition to political pressure, feminists at the time also faced criticism from a rather conservative and unsupportive public, she said.

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