Tainan Mayor Meets Asian Girl Ambassadors for Human Rights

On October 11th, Tainan Mayor William Lai marked Taiwan Girls' Day by welcoming four Asian Girl Ambassadors for Human Rights to a meeting at Tainan City Hall.

The Girl Ambassadors Hadiqa Bashir from Pakistan, Zolzaya Ganbold from Mongolia, Inessa Arshakyan from Armenia, and Pen Liang-yu from Taitung � visited City Hall to take part in an action summit arranged by the City Government's Social Affairs Bureau. At the summit, they discussed girls' rights and gender equality with local school children and representatives of the Garden of Hope Foundation, the International Friends of Chiang Society, the Tainan City Association of Parental Care for Children's Education, and Tainan City Government's Women's Rights Promotion Committee.

The Girl Ambassadors were selected by a panel of international judges to take part in the Asian Girl Ambassadors Exchange Program in Taiwan from October 10th to 14th. This program was organized by Taiwan's Garden of Hope Foundation as part of its Asian Girl Campaign, launched in 2012 to promote the rights of girls in Asia. The Garden of Hope Foundation is a non-government, non-profit group established in 1988 to help disadvantaged girls and young women.

In his address to the summit, Mayor Lai expressed his heartfelt admiration for the bravery and contributions of the four ambassadors in struggling to secure respect for girls' human rights. He hoped their participation in the summit would help others in attendance to more clearly sense and understand the needs of the struggle to enhance the rights and interests of women and girls.

The mayor remarked that, in the past, girls in Taiwan had experienced unfavorable treatment in many ways. Girls were valued much less than boys, and it was widely held that producing a male heir was an essential act of respect for one's parents and ancestors. Such attitudes generated highly negative effects for girls in education, marriage, and job prospects. Girls were not cherished or cared for as they deserved, and it was not uncommon for them to be forced into marriage as child brides.

However, thanks to the efforts of many individuals and groups, both inside and outside government, Taiwan has made huge strides toward achieving gender equality, especially since democratization. Girls now have equal access to education up to the highest levels, and women enjoy much better career opportunities. There are many women holding high positions in public life, including most of the senior officials in Tainan City Government's Social Affairs Bureau. Taiwan's current president is a woman, and there are even women taking up jobs that used to belong exclusively to men, such as in the military, police, and fire-fighting services. These posts were traditionally filled by men. Nowadays, ladies also do these jobs, said the mayor.

After he finished speaking, the mayor placed crowns of purple flowers on the four ambassadors' heads, to signify Tainan City's determination to end violence against girls and to safeguard the value of girls.

Tainan's representatives for children and youth had enthusiastic exchanges of views with the four ambassadors at the summit, discussing such subjects as physical and mental health, education and manpower, personal safety, and the media and traditional customs. They shared views on how to raise the general public's attention to girls' rights, and how to change the existing gender framework in a society.

The United Nations declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child in 2012, to raise awareness of issues and inequalities faced by girls worldwide. Taiwan responded by establishing October 11th as Taiwan Girls' Day in 2013.

Source: Tainan City Government