Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) The number of female local government heads in Taiwan reached a historic high of 56.3 percent after the 2022 local elections, with the number of women with Cabinet positions also rising by almost 10 percent, the Cabinet said Wednesday.
Compared to the previous local elections in 2018, the number of female mayors and county magistrates increased by 18.8 percentage points in 2022, the Cabinet said in a statement.
In particular, women now account for at least one-third of the seats on city and county councils nationwide, while the percentage of female judges and members of the Control Yuan, Taiwan's government watchdog, has passed 40 percent, the Cabinet said.
Referring to the 2023 Gender at a Glance report published on Tuesday, the Cabinet said the percentage of female lawmakers reached an all-time high of 42.5 percent in Jan. 2022 following a legislative by-election that month.
Meanwhile, the number of women in the new Cabinet sworn in on Tuesday is just under 16 percent, a marked increase compared to 7.3 percent for the previous Cabinet of former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), according to the report.
Despite becoming Taiwan's first female president in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has come under fire for the government's lack of gender diversity over the course of her first seven years in office.
Meanwhile, female participation in the private sector also improved significantly, with about 586,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) led by women in 2021, an increase of 112,000, or 20 percent, compared to 2012, the Cabinet said.
However, there was still much room for improvement at listed or over-the-counter companies, where only 2,738, or 14.9 percent, of directors were female in 2021, it said.
Meanwhile, the difference in income per capita for male and female workers in 2021 was 15.8 percent, with male workers paid an average monthly salary of NT$46,056, compared to NT$40,030 for female workers, it said.
The gap increased by 1 percent in 2020, which the report attributed to male workers receiving bigger salary raises that year.
The labor force participation rate for women aged 15 or older was 51.5 percent in 2021, compared to 66.9 percent for men, and peaked at 89.9 percent for the 25-29 age group, the report showed.
The difference in labor force participation, 15.4 percentage points, was an improvement from 16.7 percentage points recorded in 2011.
However, fewer women in Taiwan joined the workforce in 2021 compared to Japan and South Korea, where 53.5 and 53.3 of women worked routinely during that year.
By education and occupation, 43.1 percent of women who obtained a higher-education degree in 2019 specialized in science, math or statistics, while 18.9 percent worked in construction, manufacturing or engineering, up 0.8 and 0.5 percentage points, respectively, compared to 2018.
The report also tracked the number of female researchers in 2020, which accounted for 22.9 percent of all researchers in Taiwan, an increase of 1.4 percentage points compared to 2011.
While the number of sexual assaults or harassment against women reported in 2021 (7,787) represented a decrease of 1,425 compared to 2020, the number of minors who fell victim to sexual exploitation on the internet grew to 1,395, compared with 1,239 in 2020 and 795 in 2019, the report showed.
The Cabinet said that if using the same metrics adopted as the UN Development Program's annual Gender Inequality Index, which measures gender inequality based on reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market but does not include Taiwan, the country's gender inequality index score would have been 0.036.
This would have placed it first in Asia and 7th among 170 countries ranked in the index in terms of efforts to eliminate gender inequality, according to the Cabinet.