Making it easier for women to work outside home and offering them more caregiving options are important to empowering them, a feminist trailblazer from the United States told CNA during a recent interview.
Former U.S. congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who in 1973 became the first female U.S. representative elected in Colorado and blazed a trail for a new generation of women on Capitol Hill, said that all countries need to deal with the fact that women are often handicapped in society.
“We just did a survey in the U.S. and we found that when you look at people at the end of their careers, for every dollar a man made in his career, a woman made 47 cents,” Schroeder said.
This is because a woman did not make as much money when she was working, since she was more likely to give up her career for family issues or to take care of her children.
Therefore, at the end of her career, such a woman did not have the same economic value as her male counterpart, according to Schroeder.
To better empower women, Schroeder suggested that both the U.S. and Taiwan need to make it easier for women to work outside the home and offer women better caregiving options.
“Caregiving for people is a really important thing in both of our societies, but people who are caregivers are given the least. So I think both of our societies need to work on that,” she said.
Citing examples in the U.S., Schroeder said there are several hospitals in America that have been experimenting with putting childcare into hospitals.
These centers can also reach out to families who have children with disabilities, which are sometimes better catered for in hospitals.
This year is the first year that women who run for public office in the U.S. have been able to deduct childcare expenses as a campaign expense, she added.
Schroeder was one of only 14 women in the House when she was elected in 1973. While in Congress, she became the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee.
She praised Taiwan of doing a much better job in terms of empowering women as leaders in politics.
Talking about the significance of women’s participation in politics, Schroeder said she believes women have a different view of the world than men.
“It is always better if you can put both of these views into the legislation,” she said.
For female politicians, there is much more focus on family and caregiving, as well as education. “These are softer issues, but they are also very important issues,” she said.
She said that after Hilary Clinton lost her run at the presidency it would discourage women from taking part in politics, but there is now an an ongoing “Pink Wave” in the U.S., with a record number of women heading to Congress.
Schroeder arrived in Taiwan on Dec. 10 to attend a women’s leadership and empowerment workshop held in Taipei. She left on Dec. 13.