President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should take advantage of her historic election to use women to fill at least one-third of Cabinet posts, women’s rights advocates said yesterday.
Campaigners from 14 women’s rights organizations gathered at a news conference inside the Legislative Yuan to call on Tsai to make good on a 2012 electoral promise to appoint women to at least one-third of all Cabinet and committee posts.
“We have a lot of hope in [Tsai], because Taiwan’s presidents have done such an awful job and also because her election represents the culmination of the efforts of Taiwan’s entire feminist movement. That a woman like her — without any special political background — could become Taiwan’s president is the fruit of the work of all of our organizations,” Awakening Foundation Chairperson Shen Hsiu-hua (沈秀華) said.
“Because she is the product of progressive forces, we hope that she will continue to push the movement forward,” she added.
Taiwan Women’s Link executive secretary Hsiung Chen-yu (熊晨妤) said that the percentage of women in Cabinets under the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had fallen almost continuously, reaching a low of 11.4 percent, which was well below the 25 percent Ma promised before taking office.
Most of the Cabinets of the local governments elected last year also failed to reach the 25 percent threshold, she said.
Awakening Foundation board member Chiang Chen-yin (姜貞吟) said representation across ministries was important to allow female voices to be heard in tackling complex interdepartmental issues, such as gender wage gaps and public childcare, adding that the percentage of female national legislators had already reached 38 percent.
Activists also condemned rules against bring children into the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber.
“Many people in society — especially men — say: ‘You women already have enough because we have given you plenty — so there is no need for society to give women any more guarantees,’” National Alliance of Taiwan Women’s Associations secretary-general Hsu Chia-tien said, adding that the criticism of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Karen Yu (余宛如) showed the stubbornness of societal attitudes. “We need to say it is not enough, and we will have to work long and hard to finish everything we need to do.”
“In reality, this is just another unfriendly work environment which discourages female entry,” Chiang Chen-yin said, adding that Legislative Yuan rules reflected a broader neglect of female rights to childcare.
While corporations are legally obligated to provide breastfeeding rooms, there is no penalty if they fail to comply, she said.
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