President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the government would remove the upper limit for the percentage of women in the military to encourage female participation in the armed forces.
The Ministry of National Defense set a limit of 8 percent on the number of women in the military.
While attending a ceremony for International Women’s Day, Ma applauded the physical strength and performance of female soldiers and military officials, and said such restrictions should be removed.
“Traditionally, women are considered weak, but this perception has been proved wrong in many ways. In the military, for example, the performance of many female soldiers is impressive, and their physical strength is no less than male soldiers,” he said at the Taiwan Women’s Center in Taipei.
Women account for 7.6 percent of soldiers and officials in the military, and as the nation pushes for an all-volunteer military, the government has decided to remove the 8 percent limit and recruit more women, Ma said.
Ma cited the examples of France and the US, and said that women make up more than 14 percent of the military in those countries and fill important positions.
On International Women’s Day, Ma promised to improve the rights of women in Taiwan and eliminate gender discrimination.
“Raising women’s social status, providing greater protection to women and promoting gender equality will remain a goal for the government,” he said.
He defended the government’s efforts to improve the parity of women, saying that they accounted for 50.19 percent of all employed people in Taiwan last year, an increase from 46.02 percent in 2000.
Among the country’s 113 lawmakers, women account for 33.6 percent, the highest of all Asian parliaments, he said.
Internationally, Taiwan ranks fourth among 146 countries in terms of gender equality in the gender inequality index under the UN Development Programme, falling behind Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, Ma said, promising to continue efforts to improve the rights of women.