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Gov't seeking to improve female labor participation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government must seek ways to motivate women to work, as there are now more women than men in Taiwan, Vice Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi said yesterday.

Although women outnumber men in Taiwan, the female labor force participation rate (LFPR) remains much lower than that for men, Hsiao noted.

If such a demographic trend continues, Taiwan's overall LFPR will keep declining, the vice interior minister said.

The latest census figures from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) show that as of the end of November, the number of females in Taiwan's population had surpassed that of males for the first time ever. The MOI expects females to continue outnumbering males in the future.

Hsiao pointed out the current LFPR for men stands at 66.7 percent but it is only 50 percent for women.

A breakdown of the woman labor force by age shows that the LFPR for females between 25 and 29 is 86.9 percent, but is only 77 percent for the 30-34 age group, according to Hsiao.

The LFPR for women aged between 35-39 drops to 73 percent and women's labor participation shows a drastic drop after they reach 45, Hsiao said.

Hsiao said that there must be sufficient incentives to encourage women to work, noting that childcare and educational factors must first be tackled.

If expenses for childcare are higher than the incomes they receive from work, it will be pointless for women to go out to work and pay others to take care of their children, Hsiao said.

Women's rights activist Huang Shu-ying noted that existing laws that protect and encourage women's employment — such as maternal leave, menstrual leave, and equal job opportunity — are not sufficiently enforced.

Huang, who heads the activist group Taiwan Women's Link, claimed that for most of the female employees in Taiwan, such protection is empty.

She demanded the government step up enforcement of such laws and fine employers who deny their women employees such rights.

Huang, a former legislator from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, agreed with Huang that women's LFPR cannot be raised unless the childcare environment improves.

She noted that childcare services in Taiwan are expensive, but the quality is generally poor.

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