Tsai Ing-wen and Hung Hsiu-chu are two of the three candidates running for president this Fall, and they’re both female. This year highlights Taipei’s progressiveness in gender equality in politics.
Tsai and Hung are not the first women to contend for positions of political power–the president of Korea and the prime minister of the Philippines, for instance, are established female leaders in their respective countries–but Tsai and Hung are running on a platform that is not bolstered by family connections, which is rare. In the past, female candidates have obtained their seats of power by following male relatives into politics.
Additionally, many female candidates have carried the implications of their gender into their candidacy–often being viewed as representative of only the female population. However, the public has dubbed Tsai and Hung “candidates” as opposed to “female candidates;” not only are Tsai and Hung basing their platforms solely on merit, but they have been recognized as representatives of all Taiwanese people, demonstrating the overall acceptance of the legitimacy of female candidacy.
Taiwan’s history has always pointed to gender equality. Taiwan’s constitution of 1951 (as an authoritarian government) designated a number of legislative seats to be occupied by women. Then, in the 1970s and 80s, the feminist movement took a crucial role in resisting the authoritarian government and thus aiding the democratization of Taiwan. The Democratic Progressive Party expanded its quota in 1998 to potential female candidacy for party positions. This most recent development with the 2016 elections is a nod to those efforts.
by Haruka Noishiki ’17