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Lawyer Wang Ju-hsuan on Problems and Solutions for Women’s Right to Work

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Lawyer Wang Ju-hsuan on Problems and Solutions for Women’s Right to Work

On Jun 20 2013, Attorney Wang Ju-hsuan, who had served as Minister of the Council of Labor Affairs, spoke about women’s right to employment as enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, as well as the problems and solutions facing working women in Taiwan.

A speaker whose humor regularly evokes laughter from the audience, Ms. Wang acknowledged Taiwan’s progress in gender equality over the past decade. However, there remain issues that leave much to be desired. For instance, an increase in labor participation among female workers does not obscure the fact that most of those jobs are low-skilled and low-wage labor. Meanwhile, the traditional roles of male breadwinners and female homemakers still prevail in many households. Even the parents of the female spouse sometimes pitch in to help with the chores. On the plus side, however, a 16% wage gap between male and female workers places Taiwan ahead of Japan, South Korea and the United States in terms of progress in reducing gender wage disparity.

Now a practicing lawyer at Evergreen Internatinoal Law Office, Ms. Wang pointed out that the ratification of CEDAW places gender equality as the government’s responsibility. Other than gender equality as institutionalized by the law, the government should also uproot the traditions and culture that are discriminatory against women. The concept of gender equality has evolved over time, from formal equality in the early days, followed by protectionist equality, to the contemporary focus of correctional equality which aims to overturn the status quo through institutional adjustment as a way to achieve de facto or substantive equality. Rather than making women responsible for their own safety by discouraging them from working late hours, the government should improve the law and order so that women can choose freely between day and night jobs, Ms. Wang said.

Control Yuan Vice President, Mr. Chen Jinn-Lih, who also chairs the Human Rights Protection Committee at the Control Yuan, opened the lecture to a packed audience. Control Yuan Member Wu Fong-Shan was also present and shared his personal views on respect for foreign labors. After the talk, Vice President Chen presented Ms. Wang with a collection of handbooks documenting the human rights protection works at the Control Yuan.