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Session B1
Globalization of the Taiwanese Women's Movement? The Impact of the UN Human Rights Conventions and their Adoption in Taiwan. With a Focus on CEDAW
Astrid Lipinsky
Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

Despite the fact that Taiwan (Republic of China) has not been an official member of the United Nations community since 1971, it recently established an important relationship with a number of international conventions and resolutions. Its 2012 adoption, for instance, of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), making it part of Taiwanese national law, somehow placed Taiwan (as of January 2016) among the 189 of 193 UN member states that have ratified CEDAW.


Importantly for the population of this island nation, Taiwan's adoption of CEDAW has established a globally acknowledged legal framework for women’s rights, while providing its own, localized understanding of the contents.


Taiwan now officially shares not only the CEDAW definition of “discrimination of women,” but also the structure to regularly monitor the implementation of the Convention. This includes regular government reports on the progress of the national implementation of CEDAW. All the other reports, made in four year intervals, are published by the CEDAW commission on its homepage, along with the Commission's concluding recommendations, and are accessible as a point of reference to Taiwan. Furthermore, Taiwan established its own Invited Experts’ Committee structure: The experts (former members of the UN CEDAW Commission) evaluate Taiwan’s CEDAW reports and deliver a set of “concluding recommendations”. Both the Taiwanese reports and the expert considerations are widely publicized.


Although Taiwan is not a UN member, the international CEDAW procedure also institutionalizes non-governmental participation and gives NGOs (worldwide and in Taiwan) an important voice. Their members can attend the monitoring session and issue alternative 'shadow' reports. Taiwan's position on CEDAW also brings it into an international community of concern for women's rights and issues. All ASEAN members have ratified CEDAW. Currently, there are endeavours to establish a regional CEDAW governance network, for example through the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) founded in Vietnam in 2010. The major ASEAN members are also members of The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In 1991, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan all became members of APEC, and Taiwan is very active in the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) that is part of the annual APEC meetings. So far, research is lacking on the potential of integrating CEDAW in this network and broaden cooperation with other regional institutions from there.

This presentation reflects on the effect of CEDAW on Taiwan's women's movement.

The research results will be based on:

  1. NGO Activities lobbying for CEDAW in Taiwan since 2004

  2. Government-sponsored annual participation of Taiwanese women in the NGO-Forum of CSW (UN Commission on the Status of Women) since 2004

  3. The Taiwanese government's initial CEDAW report 2009

  4. The Taiwanese NGO shadow report 2009

  5. The Taiwanese government's second CEDAW implementation report 2014

  6. interviews and written materials elaborating on the past activities and findings of Taiwanese feminists and members of the women’s movement since the Taiwanese CEDAW took effect in 2012.

Keywords: CEDAW in Taiwan, Taiwan NGO and CEDAW, global women’s rights, Taiwan in APEC and CSW