The Awakening Foundation yesterday urged incoming premier Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺) to raise the percentage of female Cabinet members to fulfill President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign promise and the requirements stated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
“In this crucial moment, we hope that the new premier will save the nation from having the worst gender ratio in Cabinet members in 13 years and seriously address the problems in the nation’s sexual equality policy,” the foundation said in a statement.
Statistics from the women’s rights advocacy group showed that 11 of 47 Cabinet officials were women when Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) took office last year, which accounted for approximately 23.4 percent.
The percentage fell short of the campaign promises made by Ma during the presidential election in 2008, in which he said that he would gradually raise the percentage of female officials in central government to no less than 25 percent within four years.
Ma had also said that he would strive to increase the percentage to no less than 33 percent within eight years.
The foundation said that the percentage of female officials has dropped since Chen’s Cabinet was formed in May last year.
Within six months, former minister of finance Christina Liu (劉憶如) resigned in protest against the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative caucus’s version of the capital gains tax.
Four months later, former Council of Labor Affairs minister Wang Ju-hsuan (王如玄) also resigned after failing to raise the minimum wage.
Former NCC chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) completed her two-year term after ruling on the Want Want China Group’s purchase of the cable television systems owned by China Network Systems.
Former Mainland Affairs Council minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), former Sports Affairs Council minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡) and former National Youth Commission minister Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) also resigned.
The foundation pointed out that Chen’s Cabinet completely underestimated the importance of having female officials.
All ministers without portfolios were men, who lack experience of dealing with sexual equality issues, the foundation said.
As a result, the foundation said that Chen’s administration had produced several flawed policies with regards to sexual equality.
The foundation said that as the nation does not yet have a universal and convenient long-term care service system, the burden on women increased when the administration raised the amount of deductible costs and care subsidies and allowed private insurers to manage the long-term care service.
That policy, the foundation said, allowed those who can afford to pay for private care to buy long-term care service insurance and list that as a deductible cost.
It has left ordinary people without reasonable, affordable options for long-term care services, the foundation said, adding that as a result women were often forced to take care of elderly family members, and were unable to join the workforce.
In addition, the foundation said that the Council of the Labor Affairs restricted the explanation of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別工作平等法), so that employers hiring female contractors cannot held accountable if those contractors are sexually harassed or are unable to use the child care facilities used by regular employees.
“President Ma has boasted that the nation signed CEDAW, which clearly states that contracting parties should appoint women in decisionmaking positions,” the foundation said. “[The government] should not just appoint some female officials as a symbolic gesture, but should actively remove the barriers preventing women from entering politics.”