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Taiwan urged to establish 'Girls Day'

2012/08/21 11:26:26

Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) Taiwan should embrace a United Nations campaign and set up a "Girls Day" to recognize the role of girls and raise the country's human rights portfolio, a local civic group said Tuesday.

The struggles young girls face are often ignored in Taiwan due to the absence of welfare policies that address their needs, according to the Garden of Hope Foundation, which is dedicated to helping disadvantaged women.

"The fact that it's hard to categorize young girls as either children or women has made them vulnerable because few channels have been created to offer help," said Chi Hui-jung, the foundation's executive director.

Consequently, Chi said, the foundation has been working with lawmakers and other NGOs to push for a "Girls Day" in Taiwan to raise public awareness of girls' rights.

The challenges for girls nowadays go beyond the traditional problems of violence or economic disparities, Chi argued, but have extended to profound gender bias.

The common obsession among girls to lose weight, for example, represents how culturally imposed standards of beauty have harmed their development, Chi said.

The foundation's efforts are also aimed at improving the country's human rights record after the U.N. adopted a resolution last December to declare Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child.

According to the U.N., the annual girls' rights day "would help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls' lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential."

Chi said the foundation is currently offering workshops targeted at girls aged 12-18 to help empower them and will submit its "Girls Day" petition to the Legislature next month.

Lori Chen, one of the foundation's ambassadors promoting Girls Day in Taiwan, said it is important for girls to recognize their ability to break gender stereotypes.

Invited by the foundation to share with teenage girls her personal experience of serving as a volunteer in Haiti after its devastating earthquake in 2010, Chen said girls can be care-givers instead of care-receivers.

"Girls can be as independent and strong as boys," said the 25-year-old. "It depends on if we are willing to explore our potential."

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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