Asian cultures have created and followed a special attitude to women and their social role in accordance with their religious beliefs, traditional values, and preferences. As a result, the position of women in many Asian countries has remained under significant pressure and limitation. For example, such a situation has been typical for China, Taiwan, and Indonesia for a long period. At the same time, other communities have developed a more loyal and respectful attitude toward women and their rights. That is the case of Mongolia and the Philippines, for instance. Overall, the analysis of the role of women in society is a valuable source of information about its political order, cultural standards, and social outlook. This paper is going to examine the role of women in the Taiwanese and Mongolian societies, identify the major similarities and differences between these two cultures and make relevant conclusions about the gender issues in the chosen countries.
Traditional Portrait of Taiwanese Women
Throughout history, Taiwanese society has encountered significant social changes, political reforms, and religious movements. All of those influences have considerably affected the way society treats women and defines their role in everyday life. However, some features and peculiarities of the gender questions have remained stable despite the social changes. One such characteristic is the superiority of men over women in all spheres of civilized life (Dudley et al., 2013). The Taiwanese society deeply relies on the religious beliefs of Confucianism and the values of a conventional family. As a result, women did not achieve favorable treatment from society.
From the early stages of history, the Taiwanese society treated women as subordinates in relation to men. During their lives, women had to demonstrate their respect for fathers, husbands, and sons. In other words, the life of a woman completely depended on the decisions and views of men who surrounded them in everyday life. If a woman did not get married, her fate was even harder in comparison with married counterparts (Dudley et al., 2013). The matter is that unmarried women in Taiwan received no respect and support from the public and had to perform the roles of servants, caregivers or prostitutes. It means that women did not have the choice in personal life and needed to create their families as wives and mothers.
In fact, the main task of Taiwanese women consisted of raising children and taking care of family comfort. Such a role of women was typical for many societies, though it was not necessarily connected with the discrimination and violation of personal rights. However, that was the case of Taiwan, which did not provide any freedom and opportunities for women despite their marital status and social position. When Taiwanese women got married, their responsibilities and duties increased twofold since they had to satisfy the demands of their husbands as well as look after the house and children. The position of women did not improve even after the husbands’ death as they continued to obey other male representatives of the family (Dudley et al., 2013).
However, if there were no elder male persons in the family, the women could acquire the role of householders. Obviously, such cases were rather the exceptions under the strict rules and conditions of the Taiwanese society. Nevertheless, such a possibility existed and allowed women to perform leadership duties and obligations. However, in the majority of cases, women had to respect their husbands, listen to their preferences and meet their expectations in everyday life. The family life could involve the scenes of home violence or intolerant attitude to female persons, as well.
Additionally, early Taiwanese society did not allow women possessing any property and finances (Dudley et al., 2013). The family possessions belonged exclusively to men, and male representatives only could inherit the ownership. Thus, the widows could be deprived of any property and housing, according to the existed laws and social morality. It is also important to mention that women did not obtain any education and could not pretend to perform any professional tasks. As a rule, women could not find employment and earn a living.
Overall, the life of Taiwanese women was uneasy and deprived of any social benefits and securities. The patriarchal order of life left women with no opportunities for professional and personal development and growth. The traditional role of women in families did not raise any respect or appreciation. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Taiwanese society followed the discriminating and violating attitude to women, caused by religious beliefs and legal regulations.
Taiwanese Women in the 20th and 21st Centuries
The beginning of the 20th century provided Taiwanese women with new opportunities and possibilities. The most significant feature of that period is the introduction of education for women (Chou, & Ching, 2012). Many Taiwanese women studied in schools, organized by the Japanese government. Correspondingly, they learned the Japanese culture, customs, traditions, and manners of behavior. The women from rich families used to study abroad and assimilate with Japanese culture and values. The period of the 20thc century marked the imitation of the Japanese lifestyle in Taiwan. To a great extent, the new changes and innovations positively influenced the role of women and granted them new capacities.
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Obtaining skills and knowledge allowed women to find a job and start a professional career. Starting from the 20thc century, the working possibilities for women have strongly diversified and increased (Yukongdi & Benson, 2013). As a result, many women started working in education, healthcare, and other spheres. The employment guaranteed the relative independence of women and changed their traditional family roles of mother and wife. The new age allowed women possessing property, earning for a living and choosing the life partner. Such changes marked the new attitude to women, based on respect and support.
Moreover, the 20th century was the period of creation of civil organizations, which fought for the increase of women’s rights and protection of their freedom of choice. The numerous organizations started the wave of social mobilization and transformation, leading to the more conscious and responsible treatment of gender issues and conflicts. As a result, the Taiwanese women gained legal and social securities and were treated as sufficient citizens of the country.
The emergence of social organizations raised the political awareness of women, which had not been discussed ever before. With the increase of social rights and opportunities of women, the demand for political equality and participation in the public affairs arose. The women called for the voting right and the ability to participate in the political life of the country. In the long run, in 1945, the Taiwanese government allowed women to take part in various political activities, participate in the labor force, and contribute to the economic and social welfare of the state (Yukongdi & Benson, 2013).
Nowadays, Taiwanese women take an active role in the life of the country. It does not mean that Taiwanese women do not take care of their families and children. However, modern women are aware of their social rights and are free to choose their lifestyle and individual preferences. Therefore, it is possible to state that contemporary Taiwan installs equal gender roles and eliminates discrimination in relation to women.
Role of Women in Early Mongolia
Similarly to Taiwan, the Mongolian women were presupposed to perform domestic work and take care of children and family. Correspondingly, both countries shared the patriarchal social order and regarded women as subordinates to men. However, in contrast to Taiwanese society, Mongolia provided women with bigger advantages and social position. The major difference is that Mongolian women could possess the property and do some jobs, unlike the women in Taiwan (Boserup, Tan, & Toulmin, 2013). In addition, in Mongolia, women could become the leaders of the family, in case the husbands died or were away at military campaigns. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Mongolian society granted women more advantages than Taiwan in the same period of history.
Furthermore, the women in Mongolia were responsible for looking after the sheep. Mongolian society treated sheep as the primary source of food and clothes. It was an honor for families to own sheep, use their milk and meat in the ration. The fact that women had to take care of the sheep witnessed their high position in the family and respect for them (Boserup, Tan, & Toulmin, 2013). In the opposition to Taiwan, the Mongolian women could pretend to perform some important work and even take part in the military campaigns. The early period of Mongolia was more favorable to women when compared with the situation in Taiwan.
It is also important to mention that the landscapes and environment of Mongolia were rather harsh and difficult to cultivate. Respectively, all citizens had to contribute to social welfare and important working tasks. Not surprisingly, the women in Mongolia had to work equally with men to cultivate the surrounding lands and plants required for the human ration. Therefore, the favorable and respectful attitude toward women in Mongolia is the result of natural factors and environmental conditions (Boserup, Tan, & Toulmin, 2013). Otherwise, the social status of women could have resembled the traditional female role, as in Taiwan.
Despite certain benefits, the life of Mongolian women bore great resemblance to the roles of Taiwanese ones. For example, similarly to Taiwan, the Mongolian women did not obtain an education, and their professional jobs were limited, as well. Moreover, women had to be subordinate to men in the family and could not choose their husbands. The Mongolians highly evaluated female fertility and appreciated the role of women-mothers. Mongolian women had to up bring children and do the housekeeping tasks. In this light, they were assigned to the same roles as the women in Taiwan (Rossabi, 2014).
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Nevertheless, the early Mongolian society was more tolerant and respectful in relation to women than the Taiwanese. The historians inform about the Mongolian female leaders who were known far beyond the borders of the state. Thus, the conclusion is that the early Mongolian period was less discriminating against women than that of Taiwan of the same period.
Social Status of Modern Mongolian Women
Mongolia was under the socialist regime for more than 70 years. Despite the general economic, cultural and political decline, this period presented some significant achievements in the social, educational and healthcare spheres. Particularly, the government offered social securities and benefits for women. According to the existing laws, women could apply for a variety of jobs and educational programs. Moreover, they served as important workers in agriculture, stockbreeding, and education (Boserup, Tan, & Toulmin, 2013). The socialist regime also offered women to take an active role in political life and participate in social events and meetings. A similar situation was typical for Taiwan, which also experienced political pluralism and relative freedom in the 20th century.
At the same time, the socialistic government encouraged fertility and childbirth (Bruun & Odgaard, 2013). The state took care of the healthcare services and prenatal facilities for women, strongly reducing the infants’ mortality rates. Moreover, the women achieved generous support and finances from the states to up bring children and improve the demographic situation of the country. On the one hand, such reforms positively influenced women’s health and welfare. However, at the same time, they bounded women to the role of mothers and wives, similarly to the earlier periods of Mongolian society. Overall, the role of women in Mongolia did not change dramatically, though certain improvements in the attitudes are obvious. The same was true in relation to Taiwan, as well.
At the end of the 20th century, Mongolia experienced significant economic and political changes. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to notable regression, which strongly affected the female population (Bruun & Odgaard, 2013). Many women were left without any financial support from the state. As a result, thousands of women appeared at the risk of poverty. The great rates of female unemployment continued to increase, threatening the quality of living conditions for many citizens (Rossabi, 2014). Women had no opportunities for appropriate employment and professional growth. Similarly to Taiwan, the Mongolian women faced a new wave of economic dependence and deterioration of their social status.
Another problem was connected with the imbalance of salaries for men and women. At the end of the 20th century, the Mongolian women performed mainly manual jobs and received lower salaries, in comparison with men (Bruun & Odgaard, 2013). Besides, nearly no women worked in the sphere of jurisdiction, science, and aviation. In other words, the prestigious and elite jobs belonged exclusively to men, leaving the less rewarding and notable positions to female workers. Such a situation was also common for Taiwan (Yukongdi & Benson, 2013). The Taiwanese women did not pretend for highly rewarding jobs due to the lack of special skills and experience.
Nowadays, the role of Mongolian women is affected by the problems common to the global community. Legal equality has increased the obligations and duties of modern women. Family life and professional careers call for double responsibilities and attention. On the other hand, gender equality provides women with numerous advantages and benefits. Contemporary Taiwanese and Mongolian women can apply to a diversity of studies and job offers. They are free to choose their lifestyle, individual preferences, and values. The role of women continues to be associated with family life though new tendencies and laws do not limit personal growth and self-development. Thus, the modern societies of Taiwan and Mongolia managed to detach from the destructive stereotypes and attitudes of the past for the sake of gender equality and freedom.
To sum up, the attitude to women in Taiwan and Mongolia has encountered numerous social, political and cultural implications and changed in accordance with the ideological and religious movements and trends. Generally, the position and social status of Mongolian women were more favorable and loyal in comparison with Taiwan. However, both societies used to treat women as mothers and housekeepers, limiting their rights to education, employment, and political activities. Nowadays, the governments of both countries follow the non-discriminating, respectful and humanistic attitude to women and grant them legal support and governmental securities.