The Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Interior co-organized an exhibition March 8 on the history of rural women in Taiwan. The exhibition depicted women's roles and development as the Taiwanese society fused the old and the new way of living. A forum attended by 11 distinguished women from rural areas around Taiwan was also held. Its focus was the advancement towards a new era of gender equality among rural women.
Commitment, care, responsibility and sustainability¡Xthe history of Taiwan's distinguished rural women
Taiwan's agricultural sector has advanced greatly. Improvements in agricultural technologies, the efforts of farmers and extension education in agriculture have contributed to this. Extension education in home economics, in particular, has contributed a lot to Taiwan's rural society as it helps rural women come out of their homes and participate in agricultural management. Women thus have the opportunity to demonstrate their potential, succeed in management, and even become involved in rural community work. Through this, they have become key influences in community lives, ecology and development. The council recommended 10 outstanding women from rural regions, while the Immigration Agency recommended a female foreign national. Peng Li-chen, who first ran a fruit farm in Miaoli County, later turned it into a restaurant and recreational farm. She not only expanded her business, but also helped boost agricultural development and tourism in her local community. Ku Hsiu-hui, a Hakka woman in Hsinchu County, promoted ecological conservation in a community of the Lukai indigenous tribe. After the devastating Morakot Typhoon in 2009, she helped residents protect their tribe's oldest ancestral home. She is also a pioneer in advocating ecological tourism in areas along the No. 24 Provincial Highway. Sumi Dongi, an aborigine of the Pangcah tribe, has been devoted to the restoration of ladder rice paddies in Fengbin Township, Hualien County. She made great efforts to restore a plant known as Faho in her tribe's language and widely used by her ancestors. In addition, she worked to reestablish the balance between production, ecology and lifestyles in the community. Huang Hsiu-yun is a core figure in the revival of the Linbei Community in Yunlin, central Taiwan. She helped preserve and renovate several old tobacco houses that represent the community's unique history. Huang also founded a band of traditional Chinese flute-players for local schoolchildren as part of her efforts to preserve the rural culture there. Huang Mei-lan, who owns the Mei Lan Farm, a well-known recreational farm in Miaoli, successfully established a brand of quality chicken that represents the county. Tsai A-yu helped Tainan's aquaculture products become globally competitive by assisting the Nan Ying Aquaculture Association in Tainan, southern Taiwan, in earning several international certificates, including one from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Global G.A.P. Huang Fen-hsiang brought together aquaculture farmers of grouper in Tainan and helped them create a professional image with production certification. Chen Lin Chin-jui is a leading farmer of organic rice in Taiwan, with 22 hectares of rice paddies that were certified as organic. She also passed on the techniques to her son Chen Yi-hung, whose produce has been selected among the country's top 10 rice varieties. Yeh Shu-pen not only operates an organic tea farm to grow healthy and safe tea, but also created a fashionable brand for her tea products and boosted the value of her tea. Pan Ching-hsi, a Vietnamese who is married to a Taiwanese man, helped her husband's family grow tea in Lugu Township, Nantou County. She became the first certified non-Taiwanese tea arts master in the township. Phan also helps her fellow Vietnamese deal with their intrapersonal and family issues.
Taiwanese rural women in the spotlight on the international stage
Apart from the International Women's Day, the 56
th United Nations Non-Government Organization Committee on the Status of Women was also held in New York City Feb. 27- March 9. The main issue on the agenda this year was "the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges." Taiwan also sent a delegation to attend the event. Among the delegates were Chou Zou-nan, deputy director of the council's department of farmers' service, and Hu Tien-hsiang, who won a national home economics competition in Taiwan in 2011. They shared Taiwan¡¦s experience and successes in helping rural women grow and develop themselves.