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President Ma says not against women serving in military combat units

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday attended the 2013 International Women's Day Tea Party hosted by the National Women's League (NWL), giving a keynote speech on the status of gender equality in Taiwan.

The event was opened by National Women's League Chairwoman Cecilia Y. Koo (嚴倬雲), who was recently awarded with the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon by the president.

Koo said that the honor was to be shared with all individuals dedicated to promoting women's rights in Taiwan.

Women share an unavoidable responsibility toward society's betterment, Koo said, adding that NWL founder, Madame Chiang Soong May-ling, believed in taking an active part in societal and political matters.

The chairwoman lauded Ma for his efforts to initiate reform policies, such as those concerning public servants' annuities and preferential interest rates, amid severe opposition, urging NWL members to exercise their influence for the sake of a fair and just society.

Despite substantial changes over the past six decades, the NWL has always been able to adapt itself and offer its services, the president said.

Despite not being a member of the U.N., Taiwan has internalized the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as municipal law, Ma said, adding that the Department of Gender Equality was established under the Executive Yuan to ensure the convention's implementation.

In 2011, Taiwan ranked No. 4 globally in terms of gender equality, based on indicators adopted to calculate the United Nations Development Program's Gender Inequality Index, Ma said.

The president, however, also added that cases of domestic violence have been on the rise, which the government should be especially vigilant against.

There used to be an enormous disparity between women and men with regard to income, but the nation has been seeing increasing levels of equality, with women's salaries on average reaching 83.4 percent of men's in 2012, Ma said.

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