TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan ranked No. 9 on the latest Gender Inequality Index (GII), No. 1 in Asia, according to the Gender at a Glance report published by the Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan.
Since 2010, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has used GII to evaluate the loss of achievement within a country due to gender inequality. It uses measurements from three aspects: reproductive health, empowerment, and labor market participation.
In 2018, 38.7 percent of legislators in Taiwan were female, higher than China, South Korea, and Japan (all less than 25 percent). In terms of labor market participation, women were lower than men by 16.1 percent in Taiwan, less than Japan and South Korea, at 19.3 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively.
In terms of female empowerment, the number of women in Taiwan's legislature have increased 8.3 percent since 2008, and around 37.5 percent of the local magistrates were female in 2018, surpassing one-third of the total number for the first time since 1997. In addition, female entrepreneurs led 36.8 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses in Taiwan, of which 40 percent were in the service industry.
As for labor market participation, around 91.8 percent of women aged 25 to 29 joined the labor market, but the rate plunged and no longer rebounded as age increased — less than 50 percent of women above 55 years old were still working. This trend differed from Japan and South Korea, where women re-entered the job market from the age of 35 to 39 after giving birth.
Taiwan also performed well in diminishing the gender pay gap with the disparity decreasing 4 percent, since 2008, to 14.6 percent, meaning women had to work 54 extra days to equal the average pay of a man. This gap was much lower than Japan (32.3 percent) and South Korea (32.2 percent), indicating the seriousness of the problem, according to the report.
Switzerland topped the GII ranking, followed by Sweden and Denmark. Taiwan was the only Asian country that entered the top 10 of the ranking, outperforming multiple European nations, such as Iceland, Germany, and Spain.