Taiwan’s First Female President: Tsai Ing-wen
By Kylie Richardson
In this week’s blog, I decided I wanted to highlight a politician who, in my opinion, deserves more recognition who also serves as a powerful example of women making their voices heard in the political sphere. This is Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female president. Let’s take a look at Ing-wen’s upbringing, policies, and influence.
A pragmatic, trailblazing leader, Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan’s first female president in 2016 and continues to serve the East Asian nation. Additionally, Tsai Ing-wen has asserted that she will remain unmarried so that she could focus on her government tasks at hand. That in itself establishes a remarkable addition in global politics in regard to female representation and female-held authoritative positions regardless of marital status. Ing-wen completed her education in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city where she earned her law degree from the National Taiwan University. She then went on to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees in law from the notable Cornell University. Following attending the Ivy school, she returned to Taiwan to teach law at several universities to students attending schooling in Taipei.
Tsai’s direct influence in government relations began in the early 1990s when she was appointed as a trade policy adviser in the administration of former President Lee Teng-hui. In 2000, Tsai was appointed by former president Chen Shui-bian as the chair of the Mainland Affairs Council. She then went on to play a significant role in the negotiations that led Taiwan to join the World Trade Organization in 2002. Two years later, Tsai joined the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan and was eventually selected as the first woman president of the party, leading her to successfully rebuild the party after its defeat and was reelected to the post in 2010. Regardless of the obstacles Tsai faced, she has been longly admired for her resilience and continued efforts to represent Taiwan and its people.
In January of 2016, Ing-wen was victorious in defeating her opponent, Chu, officially making Tsai the first woman in Taiwan presidency, and was inaugurated on May 20th, 2016. This day marked history as a step for women in power.
At the beginning of her presidency, the President led delegations to meet with Paraguay, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize –five of the country’s diplomatic allies– and also led more delegations with four Caribbean allies to demonstrate and promote friendship and cooperation between Taiwan and its allies. In addition, Ing-wen broke traditional Taiwanese protocol by making “overtures to the U.S., creating tensions with mainland China, and has vowed to make Taiwan an indispensable member of the world by stimulating the economy with initiatives in biotech and green energy,” according to Forbes, who ranked Tsai Ing-wen as #17 in their Power Women List as of 2022.
As the global pandemic attacked the world, Tsai Ing-wen became a headline model for leadership. In 2020, Tsai successfully instituted acts and trace programs described as “effective and rigorous”. In a report done by Cornell University, published on January 6, 2020, author Chris Brouwer pointed out how Tsai Ing-wen’s efforts at one point led to only 812 COVID cases and seven deaths out of approximately 24 million citizens. With that being said, the president successfully maintained one of the world’s lowest rates in the spread of infectious disease.
Tsai Ing-wen’s astounding leadership, intelligence, and sense of unity that she urges among her nation and cooperation with allying powers highlights how significant of a role she has played in both foreign and domestic occurrences. Taiwan’s first female president has shown that regardless of gender identity, women can rule just as successfully as men, thus deserving her own spotlight. Tsai Ing-wen’s presidency was and will continue to be a significant step in the right direction for women in politics all around the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi!! My name is Kylie and I’ve been a magazine/blog writer for WIP for over a year. I am currently a high school student in the Law and Public Service Program at my school where I discovered my passion for politics and social involvement. I have found a love for writing and I aspire to explore a career in politics and law, especially social justice including equality and environmental advocacy, thus driving me to apply for a position at the empowering organization that is Women In Politics.