October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child established by the United Nations, it is also “Taiwan Girls Day”. In response to the spirit of girls day and to promote issues concerning girls’ rights, the Social and Family Affairs Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) organized the “Yes, Girls! Let’s Create the Future - Online Forum” on October 8 (Friday). Lee Li-Feng, Deputy Minister of MOHW, Chan Chiao-Yu, mountaineer and spokesperson of Taiwan Girls Day, and Wu Jo-Yun and Hsieh Chien-Ju, two central representatives of children and youth of the MOHW, were invited to unveil the “2021 Opinions of the Taiwan Young Generation Survey”. At the Forum, issues concerning self-esteem, career exploration, and challenges and opportunities in gender for the young generation were discussed. By organizing this forum, people are urged to be aware of girls’ rights and to listen to their voices.
The “2021 Opinions of the Taiwan Young Generation Survey” was carried out for the first time by the Social and Family Affairs Administration, MOHW. This year, 1,868 effective surveys were collected from girls and boys in Taiwan aged over 12 and under 20. The results reveal that these young people lack confidence and self-esteem and that they are still searching for their own place (they believe they are not good enough and that their current self is not the self they want to be). Among these surveys, girls tend to give negative responses more often than boys. In terms of future visions or goals, the majority (70.2%) of these young people hope to have “a stable job”, followed by “hope to become an influential person” (42.3%). The top three issues that most concern these young people or that they are most committed to are: “gender equality”, “education and culture”, and “global warming and environmental change”. These issues also correspond to recent international development trends. In addition, the three gender stereotypes that the young generation are most likely to hear are: “a girl must act like a girl”, “men must be strong and brave”, and “science and technology majors are more suitable for boys than girls”. These remarks indicate that traditional gender stereotypes still exist in the environment of today’s young generation.
During the Forum, the four panelists not only revealed the survey results, but also shared their views. According to Deputy Minister Lee, the primary objective and belief in promoting Taiwan Girls Day is to inspire girls to break free from gender restrictions, hoping that parents, peers, teachers and society will not limit the opportunities and development of girls and boys due to gender. She also said that girls must bravely express themselves when encountering inequality and frustration. Lastly, she stated that girls should “believe in themselves and dare to make dreams come true”.
This year’s spokesperson of Taiwan Girls Day, Chan Chiao-Yu, once climbed the 8,000-meter-high Mount Everest. She is also committed to mountain cleanup activities. She said that Taiwan is going through a phase of breakthroughs in gender equality thinking. However, restricted by traditional ideas, many issues often end up as “you cannot do this because you are a girl”. She stated that learning new things takes time and society should offer women the opportunity to learn. At the same time, Chan also encouraged young girls to follow their dreams. Speaking from her experience, she urged not think that it is negative to think less of yourself when chasing your dreams because when you know you are not good enough yet, you will have a drive to move forward. Chan said she looks forward to seeing every girl have their moment to shine.
In a bid to highlight the main purpose of listening to young people’s voices, the Forum invited two central representatives of children and youth, Wu Jo-Yun, and Hsieh Chien-Ju. Still in high school, these two representatives have participated in a number of public affairs discussions. They also shared their views on the young generation in the forum. They encouraged girls to face their dreams, while at the same time building up their strength and embracing opportunities when they knock on their door. They must speak up for themselves and make a difference.
Since 2013, the Social and Family Affairs Administration has been organizing promotional activities for Taiwan Girls Day. Entering its ninth year in 2021, the slogan for this year’s Taiwan Girls Day is “Yes, Girls! Let’s Create the Future!” The public is invited to care about the views of girls and support their development, and to break the restrictions of gender stereotypes in order to create a world with more gender equality by taking action and speaking up.。