Taiwan ranks first in Asia and sixth in the world for gender equality, according to a self-assessment published on Tuesday by the Executive Yuan’s Gender Equality Committee.
The committee said that its rankings were based on the Gender Inequality Index introduced in 2010 by the UN Development Programme.
The composite index measures inequality between female and male achievement in three areas — reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market.
The index ranges from 0, which indicates that men and women fare equally, to 1, which indicates that women fare poorly.
As Taiwan is not a member of the UN, it does not appear in the official rankings.
However, by applying the criteria from the index, the committee calculated that Taiwan’s 2019 reading was 0.045, placing it sixth worldwide and first in Asia.
In the 2019 ratings, Switzerland was first with a score of 0.025, followed by Denmark (0.038) and Sweden (0.039), it said in a report.
In Asia, Taiwan’s rating was better than South Korea’s (0.064, No. 12 worldwide), Singapore’s (0.065, No. 13) and Japan’s (0.094, No. 25), the committee said.
The labor force participation rate for women aged 15 or older in Taiwan was 51.4 percent, compared with 67.3 percent for men, it said.
Despite the gap, female participation grew at nearly double the rate of men over the prior 10 years, it said.
In terms of pay difference, women made 14.2 percent less than men in 2019 — an average of NT$291 per hour compared with NT$340 for men — which was a 3.7 percentage point improvement from a 17.9 percent gap 10 years earlier, it said.
The report said that gender stereotypes, such as ideas that men should study science while women should study the arts, can have long-lasting effects on gender segregation in the workplace.
For example, the proportion of female professional researchers in Taiwan — 22.6 percent — is higher than in South Korea and Japan, but remains significantly lower than the UK (38.6 percent) and Finland (33.7 percent), the committee said.
Fewer than 25 percent of Taiwanese workers in the construction, home improvement and transportation sectors are women, the committee said.
In the transportation sector, the Taipei MRT rail system had the highest proportion of female drivers at 22.5 percent, while the Taiwan Railways Administration had the lowest at 1.2 percent, the report said.
Taiwan passed a marriage equality law in May 2019, under which 1,257 male couples and 2,830 female couples were married in the first year since its enactment, it said.
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