Reposted with permission from Ketagalan Media.
In recent years, Taiwan’s respect for human rights and minorities have been recognized around the world as one of its key advantages to maintain its international competitiveness while keeping the island nation attractive to foreign expatriates and visitors. With the election of its first female president in 2016, women in Taiwan seem to be enjoying more equal treatment and respect than ever before. However, not everyone agrees that gender stereotypes and inequality have become things of the past.
In order to raise awareness about gender equality and women’s rights, a group of women’s rights activists organized a Women’s March in Taipei on March 9, 2017, attracting around 200 people to take part in the event. The march not only helped initiate conversation around women’s rights, but also led to the birth of an organization that aims at continuing to bring attention to relevant topics. To them, it is necessary to form an organization that’s dedicated to dismissing gender stereotypes and helping the public understand the wide range of issues that are related to women’s rights.
“Many people in Taiwan don’t think that gender inequality still exists in Taiwanese society,” said Crystal Liu, organizer of Women’s March Taiwan. “They might think that since we already have a female president, why should we still support women’s rights. Some people I have talked to even held the notion that most women’s rights supporters are lesbians, and when I told them that I’m not, they would feel confused since it contradicts with their perception of feminists.”
To offer the general public a more comprehensive understanding about women’s rights, Women’s March Taiwan adopts a more innovative approach to explain the essence of women’s rights. Instead of portraying women as oppressed and vulnerable, Liu and her team want to emphasize that women deserve to enjoy the same rights as men in Taiwan.
“We form our arguments around the concept that women’s rights are human rights,” said Liu. “We care about how men think about women’s rights, and ultimately, we hope that everyone can earn basic respect.”
While feminist movements have been around for more than 3 decades in Taiwan, Liu thinks that there is still a need to shed lights on the hidden inequalities in Taiwanese society. She believes that grassroots communication is necessary because it allows the general public to understand the current state of women’s rights in Taiwan. Instead of focusing on building a basic framework for protecting Taiwanese women, Women’s March Taiwan focuses on connecting the dots within the framework while highlighting issues that haven’t been widely discussed before.
“The feminist movement from 30 years ago focused mostly on establishing the framework to protect women’s rights, while Women’s March Taiwan adopts an inclusive approach to raise awareness about other aspects of gender inequality that may have been overlooked within Taiwanese society,” said Joy Chang, writer at Women’s March Taiwan.
Since last year’s inaugural Women’s March, the organization has held numerous events in Taipei, hoping to provide those who may feel marginalized in society a safe space to express their feelings and share their stories. Both Liu and Chang believe that hosting events related to women’s rights and gender equality is necessary to resolve conflicting viewpoints on the meaning of women’s rights as well as gender stereotypes that many Taiwanese women have to face. To them, building a community for everyone to share their experiences freely is the best solution.
“We believe that Taiwanese women need to have a space to share things and their feelings,” said Liu. “So we decide to establish such community through our monthly events. I think our events can help women or those who may feel marginalized in society realize that they have support from this group.When women see many people also support women’s rights, they would feel empowered to keep fighting for equal rights and treatment.”
In order to continue their mission of highlighting the overlooked inequalities in Taiwanese society, Women’s March Taiwan is again organizing the annual women’s march at Liberty Square on International Women’s Day, hoping to promote not only gender equality but also other types of equality.
“We hope to let the general public know that anyone can support women’s rights while continuing to reach different groups of people in Taiwanese society through different ways,” said Liu. “Ultimately, we hope to join the global efforts to work towards the sustainable development goals through empowering women and girls.”
The annual Women’s March was held at Liberty Square on March 8th from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
(All images by Women’s March Taiwan)