Thu, Jan 14, 2016 - Page 3 News List

ELECTIONS: Stances on gender draw Awakening Foundation critique

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The gender policy stances of the three presidential candidates are mainly empty promises, members of the Awakening Foundation said yesterday in Taipei, while praising the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for supporting same-sex partnership rights for the first time.

“There is a lot to be happy about in this election from the perspective of encouraging women to participate in politics …. but what is interesting is that despite the number of women standing for election, this is the first time in recent memory when presidential candidates have not taken policy stances on feminist or gender issues,” foundation chairperson Chen Yi-chien (陳宜倩) said.

She said the responses from the three presidential campaigns to the foundation’s queries on caregiving, sexual discrimination in the workplace, same-sex partnership rights, pensions and trade had proved disappointing.

“Both the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] and KMT have been reduced to presenting expansively vague and idealized visions with relatively few specific promises,” she said.

She cited the DPP’s promise to draft legislation governing contract workers without specifying whether its proposals would encourage or discourage the practice.

She also criticized the People First Party for using outdated language in its response and failing to directly address the questions. One bright spot was a KMT statement saying that it supports civil unions, including those for homosexual or lesbian couples, in what activists said was a first, Chen said.

“When I saw [the KMT statement], I thought ‘Wow, you are really brave to say that,’” she said.

The KMT’s stance means that there is now a basic consensus among the major parties on allowing for same-sex civil unions, she said.

DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) might be more progressive than the party’s responses suggested, the activists said, citing a detailed policy white paper on gender issues published during her 2012 presidential campaign.

The foundation members said they would continue to monitor adherence to the parties’ campaign statements after the elections.

National Taiwan University political science professor Huang Chang-ling (黃長玲) said the administrations of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had promised to allocate a fixed percentage of Cabinet posts to women, but the number of women serving in their administrations dropped progressively over time following Cabinet reshuffles.

While the presence of women on each of the presidential tickets is unprecedented, there is still room for progress, Huang said, adding that gender equality would only be realized when having two women on a presidential ticket is seen as normal.

The foundation was founded after the lifting of martial law to mobilize women and offer social resources to the community.

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