Women's Empowerment in Taiwain

Since ancient times, Taiwan has been part of China. The 23.5 million Taiwanese have a variety of similarities in language, culture, social and domestic habits with residents of China mainland. Women’s empowerment in Taiwan made a lot of progress in the past few decades. Thanks to family law amendments between 1996 and 2002, the legal rights of Taiwanese women improved. Women’s empowerment in Taiwan was among the top five Asia Pacific nations in 2013.

A 2013 survey presented an index of three indicators: employment, education and leadership. Among all participating Asian countries, Taiwan scored third in the employment indicator and second in women’s attendance in government. In regular employment and higher education, Taiwan’s score indicated that the job market and academia favor women over men.

Following the January 2016 election in Taiwan, the proportion of female legislators was 38 percent, putting it far ahead of the global average of 22 percent, many of its Asian counterparts as well as other nations including Britain, Germany and the U.S.

Since 1998, revised regulations were helpful to women’s empowerment in Taiwan by protecting property rights, prioritizing the best interests of children and allowing more freedom in divorce. Revisions to family law attenuated the superiority of a husband’s decisions on residence, property management and disciplinary measures. The Domestic Violence Prevention Law also has similar orientations on protecting women from mental and physical harm by their spouses.

A new employment law in May 2016 stipulated that any firm with more than 100 employees must provide a nursing room, childcare facilities or off-site alternatives. Official statistics showed that female labor participation increased from 45.3 percent in 1995 to 50.7 percent in 2015, and more than 90 percent of women aged 25-29 hold gainful employment at present.

In 2006, Landmarks of Women’s Culture in Taiwan was published by National Cultural Association, featuring many pioneering women in the nation. From 2013 to 2015, the Project on Women and Economic Development was spearheaded in Taiwan, where females played a keynote role on several forums of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Innovation. In October 2017, an APEC workshop hosted 60 women from 14 nations in Taipei, with the goal of promoting women and girl’s participation in STEM majors.

While women’s empowerment in Taiwan performs well among Asian-Pacific regions, issues of violence and discrimination require further concern. Most notably, real gender equality and empowerment of women must aim at cultural cognition, which promotes social harmony.

– Xin Gao


Taiwan Travel ActThe U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee recently passed the Taiwan Travel Act, allowing official travel between the U.S. and Taiwan. The State Department had previously placed restrictions on travel that prevented government officials from traveling to or from Taiwan. The enactment of the Taiwan Travel Act denounces these restrictions, encouraging diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the U.S.

Taiwan was previously a highly impoverished and war-torn country. Its development towards economic stability happened rapidly after the Taiwanese government began promoting the exportation of goods and global trade in the late 1960s. Since then, the quality of life in Taiwan has increased substantially. Forbes even awarded Taiwan the number one destination for people who are interested in moving to live in another country, naming it “the best place for quality of life as well as for personal finances” above any other country. However, the number of Taiwanese citizens relying on social welfare is continually increasing, and in 2012 the number of people living below the poverty line shot up nearly 30 percent.

Taiwan Travel Act: An Economic Enhancement

The Taiwan Travel Act enactment will help improve Taiwan’s failing economy by improving its economic relationship with the U.S. Taiwan’s economy relies heavily on exports, and the U.S. is Taiwan’s most important market for trade. However, Taiwan’s exportation of goods to the U.S has been steadily declining. Faced with a rapidly changing global market, Taiwan’s inability to compete with other countries stems from its inability to negotiate better trade agreements and forge more mutually beneficial partnerships.

The Taiwan Travel Act states that it is now the policy of the U.S. to encourage the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, and any other instrumentality established by Taiwan, to conduct business in the United States. This includes activities that involve participation by Members of Congress, officials of Federal, State or local governments of the U.S, or any high-level official of Taiwan. This change will drastically improve the economic potential of Taiwan, allowing its leaders to negotiate on behalf of their best economic interests and stop trade decline.

– Jenae Atwell

Photo: Flickr

According to MSCI, a research agency for global investments, Taiwan has the third most successful emerging economy in the world. Unfortunately, when compared to all countries, Taiwan’s economic data is less impressive. The need for further economic growth and infrastructural improvements places Taiwan in the gap between emerging and developed nations. However, the penetration of social media in Taiwan is allowing its citizens to bridge another gap: the global digital divide.

Despite the incredible economic strides Taiwan has made in recent years, it is still considered an emerging nation. Shortcomings in its infrastructure, including faulty gas lines and poorly constructed housing developments, contribute to Taiwan’s inability to achieve categorization as a developed nation. National health issues, such as pollution from factories, also play a role in the retention of Taiwan’s emerging status. MSCI states that the biggest hurdle Taiwan has to overcome is making its market more accessible to other countries.

Taiwan still has improvements to make, but it has engaged impressively with the world by embracing social media outlets. The saturation of Facebook in Taiwan is particularly remarkable. Taiwan possesses 82 percent more Facebook users than any nation in the world.

Most Taiwanese Facebook users utilize the website for picture sharing and messaging, but the avid use of social media in Taiwan has more important implications than casual communication.

The Internet and digital media influence the size of the global digital divide. This divide refers to the dearth of informational accessibility in developing nations versus the informational abundance of the developed world. 67 percent of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is comprised primarily of developed nations, have Internet access. Only 3.8 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa has Internet access. The Internet is integral to life in the modern world, in which economic transactions, political ideas and social interactions transpire increasingly via the web.

The prevalence of social media in Taiwan is a testament to its global engagement. The nation’s numerous Facebook users are subsequently gaining access to information they did not have before, communication they could not accomplish before and even business transactions they could not make before. Many Taiwanese companies use Facebook for advertising, knowing it will be seen by thousands of users.

While Taiwan’s enthusiasm for Facebook and other social media outlets may seem trivial, it is proof of the global integration that indicates development. Legislation such as the Digital GAP Act has been crafted with the intention of addressing the global digital divide, so that developing nations may gain the advantage of the Internet. Taiwan is already reaping the benefits of the web and making its way to developed status. That’s worth a “like.”

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Taiwan

Hunger in Taiwan is addressed by the current welfare system in place. The Taiwanese government is not only helping its own people, it is also committed to becoming an international leader in feeding the hungry worldwide.

The welfare system in Taiwan is a contributing factor for the decline of hunger in Taiwan. Different welfare programs are distributed to help those in specific age groups. For example, welfare for children and youth is designed to give homeless kids day-care centers so they can be helped and provided for. It also provides school dropouts with study opportunities and enforces parental responsibility.

A similar system is in place for the elderly. The government provides “benevolent homes” to help homeless people over the age of 70, providing them with food and shelter. It is not uncommon for adults to receive welfare aid as well.

The welfare system is in place for those under the poverty line, yet only 2-3 percent of the population is considered for monthly welfare help. Although the Taiwanese government is doing what it can to provide help to the families that need it, they do not want the population to depend on welfare.

The government wants more family intervention and assistance to help each other in need. The local non-profit organization, Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, assists those who are just over the poverty line.

The government also wants to help reduce world hunger. The Taiwanese government has committed to donate 300,000 tons of rice to 33 different countries. Over 17,300 tons of rice has been distributed in 2016. This commitment to feed hungry people in the world has gotten the Taiwanese government praise from African nations.

The organization, Food for the Poor, has also praised Taiwan for its continued contributions. According to Food for the Poor, Taiwan has provided food for tens of thousands of people around the world.

By providing assistance to residents in need, as well as others around the world, Taiwan has proven its commitment to ending hunger worldwide. It stands as a good example for handling hunger domestically and abroad.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

Education in TaiwanAlthough Taiwan produces some of the most accomplished students in the world, its educational system is not without shortcomings. Education in Taiwan continues to be a subject of discourse; these nine facts can help you better understand the situation.

  1. Tensions over statehood manifest at every level of education in Taiwan. Because Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China, the central educational authority in Taiwan is the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China.
  2. The education system is run by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. It consists of basic elementary education, junior high school and senior secondary education.
  3. The official language of instruction is Mandarin Chinese.
  4. The literacy rate among Taiwanese people age 15 and above was 98.5 percent as of 2014.
  5. Compared to the rest of the world, students who graduate from the educational system in Taiwan achieve some of the highest scores on an international level. Comparatively, these students excel in mathematics and science. However, it has been proposed that there is too far great a focus on memorization in the educational system and a lack of creative instruction.
  6. Taiwan has a testing-oriented education system, which also poses several issues. Standardized test results have recently demonstrated the shortcomings of this system. In 2006, only 4.7 percent of Taiwan students were reading at the highest level, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. The studies suggest that students are without the ability to read or think critically.
  7. In 2014, the Ministry of Education implemented reforms that included adding three years of compulsory education in secondary schools. This was in response to the aforementioned criticisms of the previous system.
  8. The reforms included “exam-free” pathways to secondary schools, a less restrictive curriculum, subsidies for students from disadvantaged homes and making arts education available to all students, among others.
  9. Population decline poses a real threat to the Taiwan’s higher education sector. By 2023, the number of predicted student enrollments in higher education is projected to drop by a third. This will also have implications for the higher education sector of Taiwan in the globalized education market.

Education in Taiwan continues to progress, especially towards targeting areas that it is less proficient in. With the added focus on reading, arts and creativity, along with less pressure to score high on exams, Taiwan is working to ensure that its educational system meets the needs of all its students.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

sustainable developmentOn September 15, Taiwan released its first Voluntary National Review at a forum meeting in New York. Taiwan has been working toward meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals despite it not being a U.N. member.

The government of Taiwan has been actively establishing partnerships in agriculture, public health, education, environmentalism and information and communications technology. These partnerships have allowed Taiwan to advance its development in the areas of poverty, education, hunger, health and gender equality.

Additionally, Taiwan has an active recycling system, which has been introduced in Romania, where it is also being implemented. This system allows for the recycling of polyethylene terephthalate water bottles, benefitting the environment and communities of Taiwan.

Taiwan’s sustainable development efforts have also been working toward eliminating other harmful toxins found in items such as cosmetics. Beginning in January 2018, the nation will be prohibiting the production of cosmetics that contain small plastic particles, and fewer stores will be allowed to offer free plastic bags to customers.

The nation has already been seeing the positive effects of its environmentalist efforts. According to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, Taiwan’s carbon dioxide emissions are expected to reduce by half of the 2005 volume by 2050. The efforts being made by the Taiwanese government are benefiting the nation’s most vulnerable. By tackling climate change and other environmental issues, Taiwan is protecting its citizens who live off the land.

Additionally, Taiwan is seeking improvements in its healthcare, universal education and women’s political participation, which will provide more resources for the nation’s poor and historically subjugated groups. Working alongside a number of other countries, Taiwan has been successfully fighting diseases including Zika, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

If Taiwan’s sustainable development continues to improve, the nation will see an increase in health, educational and employment opportunities and a decrease in poverty and the gender gap, which will put Taiwan on par with major developed countries.

Kassidy Tarala

Photo: Flickr

Taiwan's EconomyAlmost 2 percent of Taiwan’s population constitutes as being poor and is eligible for monthly government assistance. The causes of poverty in Taiwan are myriad, but one key factor is a lack of public investment in social development.

After the Chinese Civil War, Taiwan’s economy flourished. Taiwan’s middle class rose as a result of economic and social investment: the government was investing in its quality of education, availability of infrastructure projects, and small and medium-sized enterprise support to jumpstart new local businesses. Be that as it may, politics and big business are now significantly associated with one another and this intermingling is one of the causes of poverty in Taiwan.

Taiwanese social institutions remain biased for investors, no longer functioning with its people’s best interests in mind. Wages have been stagnant for 16 years; stagnant wages, high property rates and corporate welfare perpetuate poverty despite the growth of technological and scientific development. People living above the poverty line are also struggling to a similar extent.

If someone falls ill or loses their job they become vulnerable to poverty, domestic violence and alcoholism to name a few. In 2011, 357,000 people depended on welfare and at least 700,000 people were making less than the minimum wage. Presidential candidate Eric Chu suggested that the causes of poverty in Taiwan could be combated by gradually raising the minimum wage over four years.

To help struggling children and families, the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families is currently filling the gap by providing necessities such as money, oil, rice and milk to those without the means to access them.

Taiwan’s economy once prevailed because of its export-centered industry. Unfortunately, since 2001, most factories moved from Taiwan to China or Southeast Asia. It is evident that poverty is perpetuated by the government of Taiwan’s inability to invest in its own people, creating a cycle that disallows Taiwan’s locals to invest in their own country.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Pixabay

Common Diseases in TaiwanTaiwan is an island located 180 kilometers east of China with a population of 23.55 million people. Although Taiwan is considered to be well-developed, some common diseases in Taiwan are still deadly. Here are some of the common diseases in Taiwan.

  1. Japanese encephalitis (JE)
    JE is a viral infection caused by RNA viruses belonging to the Flavivirus genus. It is an animal disease that can be spread to humans. Mosquitoes that feed on infected animals, such as birds and pigs, are the main transmitters. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), during 2010 and 2015, the majority of reported cases were in central and southern Taiwan, and most of the infected were male. JE transmission occurs between May and October and peaks in June and July. Children under the age of 15 and adults between 30 and 59 are the most likely to get infected.Outbreaks of JE typically occur after rainy seasons, especially the summer months. A majority of JE patients do not exhibit symptoms, which usually occur five to 15 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, general weakness and severe headache. The disease is fatal in 20 to 30 percent of cases. If the patient survives, long-term neurologic, psychiatric or cognitive problems are possible.A vaccine for Japanese encephalitis has been developed, and children are required to have it when they reach the age of 15 months. Long-term travelers to Taiwan are recommended to receive the vaccine. The best and easiest way to avoid infection is to wear long sleeves and long pants when visiting mosquito-prone places.
  2. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
    SARS is one of the common diseases in Taiwan. It is a viral respiratory illness caused by SARS coronavirus. Like JE, it is passed from animals to humans and can then be passed to other humans. The main source of transmission is close person-to-person contact.Early SARS symptoms are high fever and chills or headache. In two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry, nonproductive cough accompanied by or progressing to a condition in which the oxygen levels in the blood are low. SARS can result in serious complications such as respiratory failure, heart failure and liver failure.Taiwan experienced a huge SARS outbreak in 2003. According to the CDC, as of May 22, 2003, a total of 483 probable cases had been reported. Among all those cases, 84 had been discharged and 60 had died. A travel alert was issued to prevent more spreading. On July 17, 2017, the travel alert for Taiwan was removed.Although SARS has not been reported since 2004 in Taiwan, it is always good to be alerted. Washing hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves when touching any bodily fluids are proven ways to prevent SARS.
  3. Scrub typhus
    Another of the common diseases in Taiwan is scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, and is caused by bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi. Scrub typhus is transmitted through infected chiggers. Symptoms include fever, headache and body aches. The disease can cause organ failure and bleeding and can be fatal if left untreated.According to the CDC, as of June 2016, 117 scrub typhus cases had been confirmed. The cases were reported throughout the year, increasing in numbers in May and peaking in June and July. The second outbreak lasted through September and October.There is no vaccine for scrub typhus. The main prevention and control strategies in Taiwan are case identification and increased public awareness. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants can prevent bites, which reduces the chance of infection. Avoiding sitting on the bare ground can also be an effective prevention tactic.

Taiwan is a relatively safe place. All of the common diseases in Taiwan are dangerous, but not deadly if properly treated. Public education is important to help people to identify symptoms in order to avoid unnecessary fatalities.

Mike Liu

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in TaiwanThe water quality in Taiwan is slightly below standard, and the region is plagued by water shortages. Here are some key pieces of information for understanding the state of the water quality in Taiwan.

According to an article in the Taipei Times, conserving water is a major challenge in Taiwan, especially with annual droughts, floods and limited rainfall. Data from the president’s office and the Water Resources Agency revealed that Taiwan residents typically use about 250 liters of water each day. Water companies and suppliers filter water from reservoirs to provide consumers with clean drinking water.

In order to provide the residents of Taiwan with clean drinking water, without implementing water rationing, the government could encourage rainwater collection and rainwater recycling systems, according to the article. Water rationing is a concern because it could lead to major economic losses in the country.

Water in Taiwan often contains significant levels of silt and needs to be filtered. In general, it is recommended that water in Taiwan be boiled before consumption. Many residents have water filters for their kitchen faucets or have invested in a water filtration system to improve the water quality in their homes. These appliances can improve both the taste and the health of the water.

According to the water board in Taipei, the water in Taipei is treated to be safe to drink. For tap water, the Taipei water department specifies that in respect to odor, water should be less than one threshold odor number (TON). A data collection in 2015 revealed that the water quality in Taiwan was at three TON.

Additionally, samples of water from Taiwan revealed higher than standard levels of turbidity and color. While the water quality in Taiwan needs to see improvements, the main threat to water in the region is a general shortage of it.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is not a United Nations member and therefore does have a United Nations High Commission for Refugees office. However, the country has made great strides to provide for refugees all over the world. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Taiwan.

10 Facts About Refugees in Taiwan

  1. Taiwan does not yet accept refugees into the country, but, in July 2016, draft legislation for a refugee law passed its first of three legislative committee reviews. This new law, if passed, would ease the asylum process into Taiwan and allow it to take in more refugees.
  2. However, in 1981, Taiwan was one of the only Asian countries to grant temporary asylum to refugees and offered permanent settlements to all who reach its shores. However, this stopped after several hijackings of planes by Chinese asylum seekers in the 1990s.
  3. In addition, in January 2009, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the National Immigration Act to allow anyone who is persecuted in their country to apply for residency. This really only involved the neighboring those from Myanmar, Tibet, Chinese dissidents or others in a “refugee-like situation,” rather than actual refugees.
  4. Although Taiwan currently does not accept refugees, since 1963, approximately 150,000 illegal Chinese immigrants have entered the country seeking refuge from the communist government.
  5. As a result of this huge annual illegal immigration rate, Taiwan has cracked down on illegal Chinese immigrants since 2003. This crackdown includes the trend of “foreign brides” that has risen in the last two decades.
  6. To compensate for not accepting refugees, two Taiwanese organizations, The Rising People Foundation and a nonprofit organization established by William Hsieh, have launched “Casa di Love,” to build a refugee facility on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The organizations will spend $0.37 million over the next three years to build the facility that will give shelter to refugees all over the world.
  7. In addition, Taiwan donated 10 prefabricated houses to Caritas, an organization in Jordan, to provide housing for 41 Syrian refugees.
  8. In 2013, Taiwan donated 5,000 sets of solar-LED lights to the Azraq Refugee Camp. In 2015, Taiwan signed a $100,000 grant with the International Medical Corps Jordan Country Office to support Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
  9. With the recent movements trying to ban refugees in the United States, Taiwan is now trying to push its own refugee law through the legislative process to allow refugees to seek permanent settlements in the country. Taiwan hopes the acceptance of refugees will stimulate the economy and help the country to become a tech power and be able to further separate itself from China.
  10. Although Taiwan helps refugees all around the world, many of its own citizens have fled the country due to China’s hold on the territory. More than half of all Taiwan refugees reside in the United States, accounting for around 360,000 Taiwanese people.

These 10 facts about refugees in Taiwan show the evolution of Taiwan from a place of solitude to quite the opposite in the 1990s, to once again trying to reinstate the country as a “land of fortune” for both global refugees and its own citizens.

Amira Wynn