Fri, May 02, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Activists bemoan prejudice against future mothers

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Discrimination against pregnant employees hurts women and reduces the birth rate, women’s rights activists said yesterday, adding that the government should be more concerned about the rights of mothers-to-be in the workplace.

Speaking at a press conference organized by the Awakening Foundation, chairwoman Fan Yun (范雲) said that although the Gender Equality in Employment Act (兩性工作平等法) was introduced in 2002 to protect the rights of female workers, the lack of proper implementation of the law has contributed to the decreasing birth rate and will affect the nation’s social structure.

The foundation was founded in 1982 to protect women’s rights and the rights of minorities, and to promote gender equality.

According to Fan, 132 complaints about unfair treatment in the workplace were made to the Taipei City Government between 2002 and 2006, of which 66 related to discrimination against pregnant women.

“In order to save on costs, many employers tend to harass expectant mothers, forcing them to quit their jobs,” said Fan, adding that “this hurts female workers and makes some female employees reluctant to become mothers.”

A mother-to-be who was dismissed when she became pregnant told the press conference she hoped the government would pay more attention to pregnant workers rights.

“There must be others who have similar experiences to mine but who are afraid to speak out,” said the woman, who requested anonymity, adding that “hopefully the victims of gender discrimination at work can stand up for their rights.”

Kuo Ling-huei (郭玲惠), a professor of judicial administration at National Taipei University, said the government should create an environment in which “females are willing to become pregnant.”

If there are no channels through which workers can complain about discrimination against pregnancy, “it will be a punishment for pregnant working women,” Kuo said.

Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君), a professor at National Chengchi University’s Institute for Labor Research, said Taiwan should learn from Western countries in terms of women’s rights in the workplace and should provide a friendly and pleasant working environment for women.

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