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Ma touts achievements in advancing women's welfare

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou revealed Saturday as he described his achievements in promoting women's welfare in the country that he once helped a group of women use men's toilets at the National Theater.

At an event marking International Women's Day, Ma said the experience occurred when he attended a performance by Cloud Gate Dance Theater at the National Theater while he was mayor of Taipei.

During intermission, Ma recalled, a woman waiting in line to use the bathroom shouted to him: “Mayor, the show is starting soon. What are we supposed to do?”

The president said he told the woman who asked the question and others on line to use the empty male bathroom and offered to keep an eye out for them to stop men from entering while the women were inside.

Due to the experience, Ma requested the National Theater to increase the ratio of male to female toilets to 1:3, which was readily accepted.

After that, the government also revised building regulations to raise the ratio of male to female public toilets to 1:5 to resolve the problem of insufficient facilities for women, he said.

Other efforts by his administration to improve women's welfare also include a policy to provide a subsidy equal to 60 percent of an individual's monthly salary for those on parental leave, which has benefited 210,000 parents, Ma said.

In addition, the labor force participation rate of women has risen above 50 percent, while the gender pay gap has been narrowing, with the average earnings of women having risen to 80 percent of men's pay, he said.

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