Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ma woos female vote with vow of policy changes

WOMEN-ORIENTED Ma Ying-jeou pledged to focus on the top three threats against women: domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, second right, cuts a cake in Changhua County at a party celebrating the KMT's 113th anniversary yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attempted to woo female voters yesterday with the promise of two-year maternity leave with 60 percent of salary paid if elected.

The maternity leave could be taken by either the mother or the father, Ma said in Changhua, adding that unemployed parents would receive a NT$5,000 child care subsidy every month for two years.

"Men have long been the decision-makers in the country and tended to draft policies from a male perspective," Ma said.

"The KMT will take women's views into consideration when drafting policies after we regain power," he said.

Ma condemned President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for failing to carry out his campaign promise to increase the number of female Cabinet officials and vowed he would raise theeir number in his Cabinet to 25 percent or higher in the next four years.

Ma said he would focus on fighting the top three threats against women in Taiwan: domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

A group of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Changhua County female councilors, however, staged a protest against Ma's visit, saying he was not qualified to discuss women's policies.

Ignoring the protest, Ma said he would tackle violence against women and children by increasing prison terms by as much as 50 percent and implementing stricter standards on granting parole for sex offenders.

He also said he would push for the establishment of a "family law" and improving professional standards in the handling of family matters in court.

If elected, Ma said he would implement all the provisions in the Gender Equality Employment Law (兩性工作平等法) and seek to eliminate discrimination against women in the job market.

To create a friendlier environment for career women, Ma said his administration would provide employment subsidies for women to encourage participation in the job market, which could create more than 100,000 jobs over the next four years.

Ma also promised to allocate NT$1 billion (US$30 million) annually and provide each qualified candidate with a NT$1 million loan with zero-interest to help women start their own business.

The right to work in a friendly and fair environment should also be extended to foreign brides, Ma said, pledging to relax limits on the employment of foreign brides and crack down on discrimination or inhumane treatment.

To protect the rights of female caregivers or housekeepers, the KMT presidential candidate also proposed establishing a "caregiver service law" (家事服務法) that would give a clearer definition of terms of employment.

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