Has the Social Security System Protected Women?ˇ@ˇ@The social security system in Taiwan is based on the occupational insurance system and the medical insurance system. Only male wage earners, but not the female housekeepers, benefit from the temporary social security system.
Occupational Insurance and Medical Insuranceˇ@ˇ@The Occupational Insurance system is one of the earliest social welfare programs in Taiwan. ˇ@ The Labors' Insurance system provides several kinds of welfare payments including: birth, illness, disabled, and a retirement allowance, for example. Started in 1950, the Labors' Insurance now covers 58.29% of the total population. These payments help stabilize society. However, since working women comprised less than 40% all citizens before 1983(Table 36), this insurance system didn't protect non-employed women. In order to use the public medical care system, many women sign up for insurance plan in the name of "the families of the wage-earners" or under the title (name) of members of some occupational associations. According to a survey conducted in 1994, 60% of all housewives join Labors' Insurance and 16.2% of all housewives sign up for Farmers'Insurance.
ˇ@ˇ@The universal Medical Insurance system opens a door for women working in unregistered businesses (ie: street vendors, occasional work, housewives). Starting in 1995, people joining the Medical Insurance increased from 58% to 96%, and the medical expenses paid by the family has decreased from 40% to 30% (Table 34). Women at home tending to the family benefit most from this new insurance system, because they are now covered. However, there are still some plans that are influenced by the patriarchal thoughts in the medical tradition. For example:
- The insurance system is not accessible to the needs of its patients. There is a supervisory committee whose members are appointed, and the demographics of the committee do not reflect the patient population. It will take some time to observe and evaluate if the existing committee will reflect women's medical needs.
- Insurance coverage of long-term care is limited in its scope. As a result, the long-term care occupation is not growing, and more women than men are employed in this field.
ˇ@ˇ@Income maintenance (welfare) treats working women unfairly. Because National Pension has not been conducted continually or country-wide, people retiring depend on the one-time retirement payment of the Labors' Insurance and the fund for the retired in the Working Standards. But to receive payments from either program, one must have had consistent employment. Women have typically placed less priority on working than on family obligations and taken time off to care for the family which reduces their payments. Gender wage discrimination is still common in Taiwan and affects these two payments. Therefore, women benefit less than men do from these two programs.
ˇ@ˇ@For example, take the retirement payment from the Labors' Insurance. ˇ@ Among those who received the retired pension in 1992, seventy percent were men and the remaining 30 percent were women. Comparing the actual money received by men and women, men received 80 % and women received 20%. (Table 35). This fact corresponds to findings of another public survey that indicates that female elders depend more financially on their families than male elders. (Table 37).
ˇ@ˇ@Essentially, the social security system deals with the economic problems resulting from lack of or discontinuing wages. It is not equipped to satisfy the needs of women working in unregistered businesses especially care-givers of long-term patients or the disabled(Table 39).
ˇ@ˇ@The welfare ideology in Taiwan is pro-family, that is, the family and the informal support system are expected to shoulder the major responsibility of caring for family members, instead of the public support system or the social welfare system. As a result, facilities for the elderly, the disabled, and children are desperately needed, according to the following research:
ˇ@ˇ@Who is taking care of these people? According to some estimates, 70% to 80% of the care-givers in the family are women. The welfare rights of these female care-givers are seriously ignored in the following programs.
- Seventy percent of young children country-wide are cared by their families, without any support from the outside (government) system.
- Among 63,000 disabled older citizens, 80% of them have stayed at home and have been taken cared of by their families.
- Among the 300,000 disabled population, nine in ten stay at home, and about 35,000 people can not manage their life independently.
Child Care Servicesˇ@ˇ@Many factors influence parents taking care of their pre-school aged children. There are few public child care centers, and little confidence in the quality of the private ones. There is a lack of information about the government children allowance. Typically women, not men disrupt their career to care for children. Although some companies offer flexible working schedules for working mothers, women are still stigmatized in their careers for attending to their family responsibilities
ˇ@ˇ@The influence of traditional gender roles is illustrated by the findings of a special survey conducted in 1994of the working status of married women. Among married women aged 15 to 64, 80% of them quit their jobs to take care their children. Another government survey shows that 70% of the non-working women (2,614,000 women) are qualified for jobs but quit to manage their family. But for men, it's another story. Only 6,000, men or about 0.6% of non-working men quit their jobs, usually to pursue career related higher education or to start their own company(Table 13).
Welfare Programs for Care-giversˇ@ˇ@Full-time care givers and full-time housewives are not paid and have few laws protecting them. Because these occupations are not recognized in the labor market, they can't join most of the occupational insurance systems. Wives will only receive the bereaved payment as a widow as long as they remain unmarried. In contrast, men receive occupational insurance, married or not.
ˇ@ˇ@In 1996 and 1997, important and well-publicized crimes and assaults to women invoked women's groups to protest for better protection and public safety(see also Safety). Recently, seminars, research and books on marital violence and sexual assaults have been made public. In 1996, the Act of Prevention and Treatment for Sexual Assault was enacted. It appears promising, but whether it will be effective will need to be evaluated.
ˇ@ˇ@Consider marital violence as an example. Using several surveys, the percentage of abused wives has been increasing. In 1992, 12.5% of the interviewed women admitted they had been beaten by their husband or intimate male partners. In 1994, it had increased to 17.8%. Another survey found one of ten women has been seriously beaten by their partners. Scholars estimate that 3,000 to 7,000 women appeal for medical or legal public assistance.
ˇ@ˇ@Unfortunately, there are not enough shelters or halfway houses for this growing problem. The number of public shelters decreased from 20 to 17 in 1993. In 1995, there were 23 shelters, but none built since then.
ˇ@ˇ@Today, shelters can only afford to give referrals and emotional support. They are overcrowded; the average number of abused wives was 8.3 persons in 1995, and increased to 14 persons in 1996.
ˇ@ˇ@Similar problems exist for survivors of sexual assault. The newly-enacted Act of Prevention and Treatment for Sexual Assault demands every county set up a public sexual assault center. Almost every county did; however, only a few centers provide a variety of services including medical and legal assistance.
ˇ@ˇ@Why can't the government offer more services to these citizens? Think about this: according to the national budget report of 1997, only 14.46 % of the government expenses is spent on social welfare. On average, each women receives only NT.19 dollars. There is an inequality in services between the different municipalities, especially Taipei, and the other counties in Taiwan. In short, despite recent legislation, the quantity and quality of welfare services for women in Taiwan still needs to improve(Table 38).
|The Report on Women's Status in Taiwan, 1998|
|Health||Legal Status||Welfare Resources||Population and Family|
|Education||Physical Safety||Working Status||Political Involvement|
|Statistics Related to the Women's Status Report|
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updated : 1998.10.27