ˇ@ˇ@Western women's struggle for political rights began in the early nineteen century, and it took them a century to achieve their goal. Women in our country had the vote in 1947 when the Constitution enacted. Today, the population of women is almost equal to men, but the percentage of female politicians is less than that of male politicians. Generally speaking, women are not involved in political issues as much as men are, however women's political participation is increasing. New and different issues are discussed among women's organizations, and a variety of issues is being presented to the public.
Women in Power Circle
Female Mayors and Representativesˇ@ˇ@In Taiwan, people still don't believe that female politicians can handle public affairs as well as men. Few women become candidates and fewer get elected to public office. For example, in the short history of elected mayors in Taiwan, only one seventh are female.(Table 29) Female representatives are still the minority, in numbers and in their positions. Women represent almost half of the population. The newly initiated democratic reform needs to make greater efforts to promote women's opportunities in politics, so they can then represent, at least demographically their gender.
Female Officersˇ@ˇ@The number and percentage of female officers increases yearly, but they usually work in lower positions than men. For example, the percentage of female officers equaled 38.8% in 1996 (increasing 0.8% a year, (Table 30), but only 0.89% of them are in high government positions. Another way to describe the gender separation is to observe the percentage of women in higher/lower positions and the conclusion is the same. Among the superior officers, only 0.26% is female. Most female officers are working in lower positions, while the percentage of men are only 2 in 10.(Table 32) Besides, most female employees in public sectors are young and inexperienced.(Table 31) Since opportunities for women to work in government have been increasing recently, women are not in a position to promote other women.(Table 33)
ˇ@ˇ@There are no women in the top leadership positions of government. In the past fifty years, there have been only three female ministers. This fact are results of several factors:
- Traditional gender stereotypes still rule. "Housewife" is regarded as women's primiary role such that they are expected to take of their family even when they have a job.
- The social values, the educational system, and the economic policy of our society don't encourage and support women to become top leaders in politics.
Women's Voting Behaviorsˇ@ˇ@According to several election behavior surveys, Taiwanese women and men are becoming more and more democratic. However, women are less concerned with the election and apt to be influenced by their families. The second difference is that women care more about safety issues, social problems, education and cultural issues, whereas men care about defense and national identity issues. Why do such differences exist? Western and eastern researches agree that the following factors create these differences: traditional gender stereotype and a political system with high barriers of entry. This argument is supported by the fact that women who are younger, single, better educated with white-collar jobs are similar to men of a similar rank in their political views.
The Development of the Women's Movement in Taiwanˇ@ˇ@Being involved in the women's movement usually involves becoming aware of political issues. In Taiwan it promotes women's concerns to be "visible issues". The final goal is to incorporate women's opinions into public policy.ˇ@ˇ@
ˇ@ˇ@Since 1987, the local women's movement has changed in its quantity and quality of activities. In that politically important year, martial law was lifted and the citizens' energy has been freed. The women's movement has been changing its organization because of a different membership. New issues have encouraged the movement to alter its strategy. Generally speaking, the women's groups concentrate on single issues and try to become the authority and professional status of that issue, instead of involving themselves every issue. They also use different kinds of strategies, providing direct services, lobbying the politicians or for legislation. Women's groups also have learned to channel the mass media, in order to get attention from the public.
ˇ@ˇ@Therefore, the women's movement of the 90's has two characteristics:
1. Work through Radical Reform and Grassroots Organizingˇ@ˇ@Women's organizations have become more daring using radical strategies, to challenge the limits of patriarchal views of women, and to explore women's potential. Meanwhile, women's activists also understand the importance of education and organization, in order to raise women's consciousness.
2. Radicalizing Both the Outside and Inside Conflictsˇ@ˇ@In the history of the local women's movement, 1997 is a significant year. Stimulated by Taipei City Mayor's announcement of making licensed prostitutes illegal, women's groups have been arguing with each other about prostitution. Should it be a job of choice to women? Before this argument, women's groups shared an informal agreement that they should keep a united front in public, even if they disagreed. It is understandable for women's groups have this policy since they have few resources. So, in one way, this conflict is a problem and challenge to the women's organizations. But, in another way, allowing this conflict to be visible means the movement is more democratic and diversified, which might increase the creativity and possibility of women's groups.
|The Report on Women's Status in Taiwan, 1998|
|Legal Status||Welfare Resources||Population and Family||Education|
|Physical Safety||Working Status||Political Involvement||Health|
|Statistics Related to the Women's Status Report|
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updated : 1998.10.29