Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) and representatives from several women’s groups yesterday said a “mother-friendly” environment should be created for women so that they would not have to worry about having children.
“The state is responsible for giving women a good and safe environment so they can feel safe bringing a new life into this world,” Huang told a press conference at the legislature. “This is the best Mother’s Day gift that the government can give to mothers in Taiwan.”
Women often suffer during pregnancy and risk their lives when giving birth to a child, Huang said, adding that when a child is born, it represents a heavy economic burden to the family.
“Women will think twice about having babies if they have so much to worry about,” Huang said.
Taiwan Women’s Link -secretary-general Tsai Wan-fen (蔡宛芬) said many women had to give up their career because of the high costs of babysitting.
“Moreover, though the law allows mothers to take paid maternity leave, employers often ‘hint’ that such leave should not be taken, or even give bad employee evaluations to those who want to take maternity leave,” Tsai said.
Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights -secretary-general Kao Pei-chin (高珮瑾) said she was concerned about the fate of unmarried mothers.
While it is already difficult for a married woman with a newborn to keep her job while taking care of a child, the situation can be worse for unmarried women.
“According to the Act for Assisting Families in Special Situations [特殊境遇家庭扶助條例], an unmarried woman with a child is only entitled to a total of between NT$40,000 and NT$50,000 in support over a three-month period if she quits her job,” Kao said. “This is barely enough to support herself.”
Instead of giving out a NT$1 million cash award for creating a slogan to increase childbirth, “the government should come up with some actual policies and actions to help mothers in this country,” Huang said.
Some of the ideas proposed by Huang and the groups included establishing more public childcare centers, creating childbirth-risk pensions and allowing mothers to collect payments from the national pension plan.
The Ministry of the Interior’s Social Affairs Department Deputy Director Chen Su-chun (陳素春) said the government would look into the suggestions, but added that it was unlikely the ministry would allow mothers to draw a childbirth stipend from the national pension program.
“The idea behind the current national pension program is to give those who are unemployed better protection in their old age,” Chen said. “Right now, we don’t have a plan to change this.”