The transformation of gender regime in Taiwan

Wan-Ying Yang

Dr. Wan-Ying YangWan-Ying Yang is professor of the Department of Political Science, currently serving as the dean of the College of Social Sciences, National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She also serves as the convenor of the division of Political Science in National Science and Technology Council. Her major research subjects are identity and gender politics, political attitudes and behaviors, legislative and electoral studies, and democratization theory. She has published many articles in Taiwan and international journals, including most recently, Social Science Japan Journal, Asian Journal for Public Opinion Research, Asian Women, Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Taiwanese Journal of Political Science, and Taiwan Democracy Quarterly. She has been a visiting professor at University of Göttingen, University of Tübingen, Germany. She can be reached at email:


In comparison, Taiwan progressed relatively well in terms of gender equality among Asia countries and compared with its own past. Taking cross-country gender-related indexes as references, Taiwan is on the one hand a relatively gender-equal country by GII (Gender Inequality Index). Based on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index (GII) for 2012, the Taiwanese government reports that the country has the second-highest gender equality ranking globally (Liu 2013). For the past ten years, Taiwan has kept its GII ranking within the top ten list. On the other hand, Taiwan also lags far behind by SIGI (Social Institutions and Gender Index). Based on OECD’s SIGI index, Taiwan ranked 91th among 179 countries in the item of discrimination within family in 2019.

How to explain such a paradox of uneven progresses of gender relation in Taiwan? State, Market, and Civil society are the main actors in formulating and transforming the gender relations in any society. This study aims to incorporate the three-way relationships in analyzing the changing gender relations in Taiwan. More specifically, women’s movement in the civil society has been the main force pushing for gender equality in Taiwan. However, how has women’s movement challenged the state, market, and family relationship in Taiwan? How have women movements engendered the state and reshaped Taiwan’s gender regimes? In which aspects have the transformation been more successful and less successful?

We utilize the concept of “gender regime” to reveal the changing trajectories of gender relations from a dynamic perspective. Gender regime, as defined by Walby (2009), which is constituted of different institutional dimensions of economy, polity, and civil societies, provides us a holistic tool to better comprehend the origin, the transformation, and the current status of gender inequality in Taiwan. This study will attempt to define and classify Taiwan’s gender regime by Walby’s definition to examine whether and how Taiwan has transformed from a domestic to a public gender regime, and from a conservative to a neo-liberal or social democratic one. This study will also heed to the problems of the existing definition and classification of gender regime in analyzing the transformation of gender relations in Taiwan.