Marchers Brave Icy Taipei Rain to Celebrate Women and Diversity

Marchers Brave Icy Taipei Rain to Celebrate Women and Diversity
Credit: Darice Chang

What you need to know

A solid crowd featuring prominent civil activists, politicians, and community leaders turned out for the second Women’s March Taiwan despite nasty weekday weather. 

Despite the icy drizzle, a group of about 60 huddled together in Liberty Square ahead of the start of this year's Women's March Taiwan.

Volunteers distributed plastic raincoats and demonstrators huddled in groups loosely demarcated by affiliation, and the march commenced at Liberty Square and followed Xinyi Road west before curving north along Jianguo road and finishing up at Red Room, where the "Celebrating Women" art exhibit is on display . The march picked up participants on the way as students finished class and others finished work. At the ensuing speech and celebration a steady stream of new participants trickled in, filling the cozy art exhibit and event space with an exuberant buzz.

Numerous media joined the The News Lens , including Reuters and Ketagalan Media . A cluster of yellow-jacketed demonstrators held aloft signs denouncing rape, while a tall red banner wielded by the Taipei chapter of International Socialist Forward cut through the sodden peoplescape.

Organizer Crystal Liu served as MC for the ensuing speeches. The Shanghai-raised and University of Southern California-educated Taiwan native launched speakers in both Mandarin and English, expressing her motivation for organizing the march last year, as well as the importance of continuing to Raise awareness for "Invisible Discrimination", the theme for this years' activities.

Credit: Jean-Jacques Chen
Organizer Crystal Liu MC's at the Red Room celebration.

Though Taiwan is lauded as a leader in women's equality in terms of legislation and politics, there are more many issues persisting on labor and social fronts. The majority of housework still falls to women, and employers regularly punish female workers for pregnancy or family. By Way of limiting career advancement or even terminating employment. additional, societal expectations pressure females to adhere to gender roles and govern everything from their mannerisms to appearance.

Keynote speaker Miao Poya (苗博雅), a clearly progressive social activist and Social Democratic Party candidate in the 2016 legislative elections, spoke passionately to the crowd.

Credit: Jean-Jacques Chen
Keynote speaker Miao Poya of the Social Democratic Party.

In her speech, Miao recalled the experience of Lü Hsiu-lien, who was elected Taiwan's first female vice-president in 2000, and Lü's experience with the Awakening feminist group in 1988, when she opposed the separation of the women's movement from involvement with politics Miao went on to note that despite gender equality being promoted in Taiwan under laws like the Act of Gender Equality in EmploymentIn addition, the majority of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are still women and children. And there are more many incidences of non-gender normative philantine discrimination legislation. additional, the civil activist and politician brought up issues Related to gender roles that continue To permeate Taiwanese culture: women are often forced to choose between their family, career, or total exhaustion in taking on both.

“Today I came to the march to fight against injustice and indicate that this still does exist,” she said. “We need to educate our children to know themselves and to accept and tolerate others.

Credit: Jean-Jacques Chen.
Supporting Organizer Ann Tseng.

“This is the second women's march in Taiwan and I hope that I will have the chance to march with everyone in the years to come.”

Other speakers included Serve the People Association from Taoyuan, who work with migrant workers to address issues of illegal forced labor and excessive work hours. Representatives from Taiwan Women's Film Association , Women Make Waves Taiwan , University of Taipei Gender Works, and the New Power Party Were also present to share their thoughts and vision.

Vanessa Wang of Taiwan's first women's mental health support group, Woman Anonymous Reconnecting Mentally (WARM), shared on the prevalence of rape and victim blaming based on the numerous stories shared by female during WARM's weekly meetings.

Vanessa Wang, founder of WARM addresses a full house at Red Room

An area was set up to gather signs from the march, many of which had been created at a workshop held at MOWES , a female-only community center. MOWES founder Maja Ho was also present, speaking about the importance of tolerance and acceptance for women Of all identities and appearances.

Credit: Darice Chang
A selection of the signs from the 2018 Women's March Taiwan.

The event concludes at 9:30 pm with volunteers helping Red Room staff to clear furniture. The celebratory exhibit will continue through Sunday March 11th with the Celebrating Women in Taipei event, which will run from noon to 10 pm

[Watermarked pictures by Jean-Jacques Chen . Additional photos by Darice Chang]

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Editor: David Green