The International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) opened its Asia-Pacific Chapter, the Asia-Pacific Liberal Women Association (APLWA), at the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei on the afternoon of October 24, 2020. The launch attracted an audience of nearly 200 people interested in human rights and women’s issues. Speakers at the inaugural board meeting included association president Maysing Yang and former Vice President Annette Lu, while incumbent Vice President Lai Ching-te addressed the celebratory evening gala. In addition, heavyweight friends from overseas such as Hans van Baalen, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party and Liberal International president of honor, former INLW president Margaret de Vos Van Steenwijk, and INLW North Africa Chapter founder Ms Khadija Oum Bachair El Morabit sent congratulatory video messages to join the celebration of the opening of the INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter.
The roots of the APLWA go back to July 2018, when Liberal International president Dr. Juli Minoves-Triquell and then INLW president Margaret de Vos Van Steenwijk visited Taiwan to sign a joint “Vision Statement on the Declaration to Establish an INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter” with then INLW vice-president Maysing Yang, which formerly launched preparations for the APLWA. After two years of work, a preparatory committee was formed in May of this year 2020), and started making relevant plans. As the INLW Asia-Pacific Chapter, in addition to fulfilling the headquarters’ mission and vision, APLWA will “elevate
women’s right to make decisions and voice their opinions on the direction of national development”, “improve civic competence”, “monitor international human rights issues”, “encourage universal participation in promotion of gender equality”, and other goals to accelerate promotion of overall social progress. Marked out by its philosophy to “think global, act local”, the APLWA will encourage youth and men to join
its ranks, and build on the foundations of homegrown gender equality and democracy to increase international advocacy connections.
In her remarks to the APLWA’s inaugural general meeting, Annette Lu, former Taiwanese Vice President and pioneer of Taiwan’s women’s movement, said, “The 21st century is the women’s century, and the Asia-Pacific century,” adding that she supported the APLWA’s promotion of gender equality and women’s participation in politics and policy-making, and looked forward to seeing the association work more closely with INLW to promote gender equality, liberal democracy and peace, and expand opportunities for cooperation between Taiwan and Asia-Pacific.
At the inaugural general meeting, 15 directors, three supervising directors, five standing directors and one standing supervising director were elected to the board of directors. Former ambassador without portfolio for democracy and human rights Maysing Yang was elected as the first chairperson.
At the celebratory gala dinner, Yang gave special thanks to people working for Taiwan’s women’s organizations for their years of hard work and persistent effort to make Taiwan a more equal society. “The APLWA has international resources. After its launch, we will ncourage more partners, regardless of nationality, gender, age, or field of expertise, to work together with us, to strongly emphasize that Taiwan is ready to cooperate more substantially to together improve Asia-Pacific women’s rights to political participation.”
Vice President Lai Ching-te signed a “He for She” declaration in support of the UN campaign to involve men in the women’s rights movement. “The results of the development of gender equality in Taiwan comes from the efforts of women’s organizations and many others.” Lai said, “Today nearly 40% of the Legislative Yuan members are women, and we have a comprehensive framework of gender equality legislation” Since INLW is a global organization with consultative status at the United Nations, establishing its Asia-Pacific chapter in Taiwan was an affirmation of Taiwan’s democratic development, and a milestone in recognition of the nation’s ability to lead democratic development in the region, Lai added.
Speaking in a video message from the Hague, Margaret Van Steenwijk said the purpose, emphasis and tasks set for the new chapter shows the raison d’être for the men and women members to work together to achieve the association’s goals. In his video message, Hans van Baalen said he looked forward to the chapter becoming part of the liberal family, and congratulated Taiwan for controlling COVID-19 while holding to the principles of human rights and the rule of law. “You are a great nation” said Baalen.
Singers Welly Yang and Dina Morishita delighted the audience at the gala dinner with renditions of Taiwanese and Western songs. As well as being Maysing Yang’s son and daughter-in-law, the couple are internationally acclaimed artists, who have performed leading roles in numerous Broadway productions.
Other guests at the inaugural meeting and celebratory gala dinner included Executive Yuan secretary general Li Meng-yen, Beans Talk founder Chen Shih-meng, former grand justice Hsu Yu-hsiu, former AIT director Bill Stanton, Formosan Republican Association chairperson Dr. Tommy Lin, Taiwan Industrial Technology Association chairperson Lin Chih-Lung, Academia-Industry Consortium For Southern Taiwan Science Park standing director Chen Li-Fen, Taiwan People News president Dr. Chen Yung-hsing, Dr. Chen Wen-chen Memorial foundation standing director Chen Bao-Yue, and others.
On July 12th, 2018 a Press Conference and meeting was held in Taichung Town Hall in Taiwan announcing the Launching of a new INLW Chapter. This Asia-Pacific Chapter is to be established in the new Taichung development of International NGO Centre.
INLW President Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk and LI President Juli Minoves were invited to attend the launching of INLW Asia Pacific Chapter.
Taichung is the second biggest city of Taiwan and under ambitious leadership of the DPP Mayor Chia-Lung Lin it is developing its international relations network.
At the seminar on “He for She: Stand together” Juli Minoves, Margaret de Vos, Jing-Yin Lin, MP and Maysing Yang, VP (vice-president) INLW and initiator of the INLW Asian Pacific Chapter spoke on How standing together and empowering women can help to achieve the Sustainable Development goals.
Margaret de Vos emphasized the importance of setting up the INLW Asia & Pacific Chapter. Men and Women must work on getting women to participate fully in society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Later a visit was made to the INGO Training and Conference Center which is in the outskirts of Taichung, an area Wufeng, which is being redeveloped. It was abandoned after suffering on September 21, 1999 a 7.3-magnitude earthquake.
They visited the 921 Earthquake museum there, which was very impressive! Thank goodness the earthquake happened at 1 in the night, so the children escaped being hurt or killed at school.
There are varied International NGO offices’there, which we visited. INLW Asian Pacific Chapter would be able to have an office there.
As always Juli Minoves and Margaret de Vos were received with great hospitality. We visited the famous Concert Hall Building in Taichung, an ancient village temple as well as the marshes on the west coast. We hope to hear soon of the plans of this very important INLW Chapter which Maysing Yang is developing and wish her much success in developing it further.
As INLW President, Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk was invited to participate at the Conference held in the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei.
The Official opening was conducted on Friday morning by Taiwan’s President Ms. Tsai Ing-wen who is Taiwan’s First Female President. She said that since martial law was lifted in Taiwan 30 years ago women’s rights and women’s political participation have been fought for by a substantial portion of the Taiwanese people. “Taiwan’s journey toward women’s empowerment has shown that promoting gender equality reinforces democratic and progressive values”. She described the former Vice President of Taiwan, Ms. Annette Lu, as being “an indispensable driving force in Taiwan’s democratization, which she paid for by 6 years imprisonment before martial law was ended”.
Margaret was invited to say some words of welcome. She stressed that INLW wants to empower women around the world by linking experiences and working together. INLW is stimulating the creation of INLW Chapters in Asia, whereby CALD Women’s Caucus can play the coordinating role. Such Chapters can play separate roles, like being a Liberal Women’s Think Tank or being a network to meet other women with experience as politicians or business women with the aim of empowering women and men for the good of all. Her speech can be read here.
Annette Lu who was Taiwan’s first female Vice President from 2000 till 2008 is an INLW Patron and was the keynote speaker. She spoke of the “Perspective on She-Century and the beginning of She-Politics, She-Economy and She-Society”. In this 21st Century it is time for the feminization of power, she said and went on to explain that the most powerful leader in Europe and in fact now in the Free World is Angela Merkel! That’s the beginning of She-politics. But also, the beginning of She-economics as 85% of consumer choices are made by women! And soon 870 million women around the world will enter the job market. This will create work, start more businesses and the gender gap earnings will narrow down therefore. Women earning more will become good consumers and products will be designed and marketed more and more specifically for women or suiting women’s taste.
She felt that the fact that in Taiwan the two major parties have Chairwomen is a milestone for the feminist movement she launched 40 years ago in Taiwan. She continued to address the role of women as peacemakers and their so-called Soft Power approach.