The Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, is ranked first in Asian countries in the U.N. Gender Inequality Index for gender equality. This means that Taiwan has been successfully empowering, educating and creating equal opportunities for its women. But despite this fact, gender inequality in Taiwan endures.
The Gender Wage Gap
One perpetuating issue is the gender wage gap. The gender wage gap in Taiwan is at 15.8%, meaning women would have to work a total of 58 more days to earn equal pay.
In an effort to combat the wage gap, the Taiwan Ministry of Labor (MOL) established ‘Equal Pay Day’ in 2012 to raise awareness of the issue.
As things stand, there are several issues that may be contributing to this issue of inequality. Primarily, women have historically experienced discrimination due to the potential for maternity leave. Some Taiwanese women shared similar experiences. Hiring committees will often ask them if they are pregnant or intend on getting pregnant, and the answer can play a huge role in whether employers will hire them.
However, the overall heightened awareness about gender inequality and the work of the MOL has resulted in tangible progress. Back in 2012, women earned 16.6% less than men. In the last few years, the gap has closed by 0.8%.
Taiwan has also continued to increase the number of women in positions of political power and/or the workforce. About 51% of women over the age of 15 were in the labor force as of 2015, with an average monthly income of $1,346. As for political positions, female lawmakers make up 42.5% of the parliament, Legislative Yuan. Currently, the following are some programs addressing gender inequality in Taiwan.
Taiwan Women’s Center
The Taiwan Women’s Center, which originated in 2008, is an organization that aims to spread gender equality. Its conference rooms in Taipei City, its headquarters, host discussions, seminars and training courses about feminism. Members discuss potential solutions to relevant issues regarding how Taiwan can create a gender-equal society.
The website features videos on the history of gender equality in Taiwan. It also provides links to other organizations striving to make Taiwan a safe and equal country for everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.
Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan
The Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan, established in 1997, works to sustain and enforce government laws and legislation that protect women’s rights.
Some historical accomplishments of the GEC include the establishment of the Commission on Women’s Rights Program (CWRP), the passing of the Enforcement Act of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the establishment of the Department of Gender Equality.
The website includes a tab with various programs that can help kickstart “gender-responsive actions.” These “toolkits” aim to educate and inspire women to participate and be active in the fight for gender equality.
The Awakening Foundation
The Awakening Foundation is a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that has aided many in the fight for gender equality. Established in 1982, it originated as a magazine to protest against the way people treated women in Taiwanese culture. Some of the foundation’s original projects focused on ending child sex trafficking.
Currently, it aids Taiwanese women by lobbying for feminist reforms, providing legal assistance and counseling, as well as monitoring a hotline that reaches about 2,000 citizens per year. Recently, the Awakening Foundation has been working on mandating paid parental leave, as well as educating the public with articles on why women play a vital role in the advancement of politics.
Although Taiwan has made significant progress toward gender equality, progress is still ongoing. The current initiatives continue to push for a world where gender equality is the norm. With continued support and education on the issue, and based on the progress so far, there is a chance that one day, gender inequality in Taiwan will become an issue of the past.
– Alex Hasenkamp
Photo: Wikipedia Commons