High ratio of Taiwanese woman lawmakers impresses U.S. official

Taiwan's high ratio of women elected to legislative office has impressed a senior U.S. official, who said Wednesday that with Taiwan's lead in promoting women's rights, the newest project under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) will focus on women's empowerment.

Kurt Tong, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, announced in a conference on Taiwan-U.S. relations in Washington, D.C. that the GCTF project will be an international women's empowerment conference that will take place in Taipei March 11.

"This conference will bring together government and civil society leaders, primarily from the Asian and Pacific region, to discuss ways that we can promote and create political and economic empowerment to women and create a more inclusive society," Tong said in a speech at the conference.

In his speech, Tong noted that Taiwan has recently elected its first-ever female president, Tsai Ing-wen, whom he said the United States looks forward to working with and knowing better in the future.

Tong also said that the ratio of Taiwanese women elected to the legislature is the highest in Asia at 38 percent, which is nearly double the figure in the United States. "America can only be envious of this figure," he said.

He praised Taiwan for its contributions to the international community in various areas and for being one of the most generous donors toward efforts to address global need.

Taiwan has demonstrated that it has a lot to offer in the way of expertise, capacities and resources to assist in all kinds of global challenges, and the U.S. will continue with efforts to elevate Taiwan's international profile and dignity by highlighting its global contributions, Tong said.

Saying that Taiwan's contributions have made the world a safer and healthier place, the official said that the U.S. will continue to work with counterparts in Taiwan to promote the country's meaningful participation in international organizations.

Also attending Wednesday's conference, which was sponsored by the George Washington University, was Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruce Linghu and Joshua Cartin, head of the economic section of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan.

Cartin suggested that Tsai can play an active role to have a say in the GCTF platform so that Taiwan will have more opportunities to make a contribution to the international community.

Linghu for his part noted that the GCTF is a cooperative framework formed by Taiwan and the U.S. last year when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin visited Taiwan.

Under the framework, the two sides have extended their bilateral collaboration into the areas of women's empowerment, public health care, information and technology cooperation, and energy, Linghu said.

Promoting women's rights in domestic and foreign societies has been a core issue of the Republic of China government and the Taiwanese people, he said, expressing belief that with the close U.S. cooperation, Taiwan can make more contributions toward efforts to promote regional and global women's rights and benefits.

He said that for the upcoming GCTF conference, female leaders from the United States, as well as representatives and experts from the government and civil sectors of Asia-Pacific countries and areas, will be invited to attend the event to discuss ways to promote women's empowerment in the region. (Rita Cheng and Elizabeth Hsu)