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NATWA Secretary General on Equality and Gender Mainstreaming

On October 22, Secretary General of the National Alliance of Taiwan Women’s Association Ho Bih Jen was invited to speak about substantive gender equality and gender mainstreaming under the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)” and the two covenants.
CEDAW is the first international convention dedicated to protecting women’s rights, while all pre-existing conventions focused on war or racial issues. On June 8 2011, it was adopted by presidential decree in Taiwan, the Republic of China. On January 1 2012, the Act to Implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was promulgated. In fact, as early as 2007, Taiwan submitted instrument of ratification to Secretary-General of the United Nations for deposit. Unfortunately, the submission was rejected on the grounds that Taiwan is not a member of the UN. The course of events has given rise to questions as to why we single-mindedly pursue ratification after rejection by the UN.
NATWA Secretary General Ho Bih Jen pointed out that ratification is not only a way to proclaim our determination to participate and abide by the international convention, but also for the government to demonstrate to the people its resolution to change the status quo. Overall, Taiwan boasts one of the most women-friendly countries in Asia, with many unique experiences to share with the wider world.
Secretary General Ho further elaborated the difference between “sex vs. gender” and “substantive vs. strategic needs”. Policies play a crucial role in meeting the needs of different groups thereby correcting the existing stereotypes. For instance, it has recently been mandated that the number of female and male nurses be no less than one third of all nurses employed. In the long run such regulation should help overturn the stereotypical image of “female nurses”.
Secretary General Ho also explained that gender mainstreaming is not about glorifying women’s rights at the expense of others, but rather assessing the different implications for all women and men of any planned policy action, thereby attaining the goals set out in CEDAW.
At the end of the three-hour session, Vice President of the Control Yuan Chen Jinn-lih, who is also Convener of the Human Rights Protection Committee, presented Secretary General Ho a collection of books documenting the human rights protection works at the Control Yuan.