Strategies to empower women highlighted at summit in Taipei
"Taiwan is a leader in East Asia when it comes to empowering women, and we are proud to call it one of our closest partners in this important area," Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT's) Taipei office, said at the opening of Tuesday's summit.
He announced two new U.S.-Taiwan initiatives that he said will make empowering women a central priority.
The first is called StartOpps, which Christensen said is for the United States and Taiwan to "go south together."
"Through StartOpps, we hope to integrate the innovative startup ecosystems of the United States, Taiwan and Southeast Asia while empowering women entrepreneurs everywhere," he said.
The second initiative is called the "Talent Circulation Alliance," which he said seeks to promote the movement of skill workers among like-minded economies.
Under the initiative, the public and private sectors, academia, research labs and nongovernmental organizations in the U.S. and Taiwan will work together to facilitate a steady flow and circulation of talent, Christensen said, without providing additional details on the two programs.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who also attended the summit, supported the initiatives.
"My platform as a female president means I have a duty to push for women's empowerment at home and abroad. And I would not stop until the term 'female president' is a saying of the past," she said.
She said Taiwan is a regional leader in empowering women, with women accounting for nearly 40 percent of the country's lawmakers and mayors.
A World Bank report released this year also ranked Taiwan as the top country in Asia in terms of giving women and men equal rights under the law, Tsai noted.
"But women are more than just numbers and paper. They are the life blood of our economy, the backbones of our society. That is why we want to encourage more women to start businesses and to create a world environment where they feel seen and supported," she said.
Meanwhile, during a keynote speech, Eddie Bernice Johnson, chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said gender equality is important in promoting economic prosperity, opportunity and growth.
"That is because many ideas that come up for businesses are really developed out of personal experiences, and because women have had so many various jobs, much more varied than the other gender, that we are in the position to be the innovators, to come up with the creative ideas," she said.
The one-day summit, which is being held at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, is part of a series of events around the world leading up to the June 4-5 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the Netherlands.
It was jointly organized by the AIT, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs' Small and Medium Enterprise Administration.
Participants also included Jane Nishida, principal deputy assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maren Kasper, acting president and chief operating officer of Ginnie Mae, and Winslow Sargeant, senior vice president of the International Council for Small Business.