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Astrid Lipinsky - Taiwan's women's movement

30 years of state-sponsored organizing Taiwans womens movement

Even during the martial law period, Taiwan had a well developed sector of nongovernmental organizations, most of them charitable, religious or business-related (Tedards 2012). These were allowed to exist, as long as they were non-political, and not affected by the restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, and assembly (Chang 2009: 61). Among them, the National Women's League of the Republic of China (NWL) was founded in 1950 by Song Meiling, wife of then-president Chiang Kai-shek. Women were organized and mobilized for economic reasons: Before marriage, they were expected to participate in the workforce, and after marriage, to care for their families, children and the elderly, not to rely on state welfare (Chang 2009: 62; Diamond).Thus, women in Taiwan had a tradition of being legally organized. No wonder women were the first to establish an independent NGO under the roof of a publisher, 'Awakening', in 1982. This was years before martial law was lifted and the first political party other than the Guomindang founded in 1987.

From the beginning, the women’s movement focused on feminist legal reform and legislation to end gender discrimination, therefore interacting with members of the Legislative Yuan. This interaction was strengthened by DPP women’s policy and its institutionalization in the DPP women’s department. Women’s policies then became part of local government structure; and were .first established locally in Taipei City in 1994, and established as the Committee on Women’s Rights Promotion in the Executive Yuan (national government) in May 1997. Committee members included women’s movement
activists who are thus able to directly influence government policies. Despite their considerable impact, the activists were criticized as being too close to the government. While becoming part of government institutions, the Taiwanese women’s movement also attempted to define women’s policy contents by convening the National Affairs Commission on Women at the end of 2010. The paper will discuss movement’s influences on state policy structures and contents.


Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies

Department of East Asian Studies
University of Vienna
AAKH-Campus, Hof 2, Entrance 2.3
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna Austria

Contact: Astrid Lipinsky
T: +43-1-4277-43844
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0
Lastupdate: 05.10.2014 - 12:04