Taiwan has been making global headlines as one of the few countries successfully handling the CODIV-19 crisis.
This week, male health officials from the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) took a public stance challenging gender norms by wearing pink masks at a press conference. The move was in response to stories coming out that a number of male students in schools across the country were being bullied for wearing pink coloured face masks.
Chen Shih-chung, the Minister of Health and Welfare, led a briefing on Monday and said that as a result of the bullying, some male students had begun refusing to wear their masks to school, putting themselves and others at risk of being exposed to the disease.
“It’s fine for a man to wear pink,” Chen said in a press conference. He later tweeted: “Pink is for everyone and no colour is exclusive for girls or boys. Gender Equality lies at the heart of Taiwan values.”
Chen took to Facebook to explain his attempts to normalise the colour pink, and encouraged citizens to see masks as protective gear, regardless of their colour.
According to the country’s mask rationing system, citizens don’t have a choice in the colour of the masks they purchase.
The briefing on Monday triggered a wave of support from public figures including Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-Chang, who wore a pink mask on Tuesday and the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, who showed her support by writing on a Facebook post: “I urge everyone not to limit their choices based on colour stereotypes.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan also tweeted: “No colour is exclusive to girls or boys. #GenderEquality lies at the heart of #Taiwan values.
Wang Ting-yu, a Democratic Progressive Party Taiwan Legislator, wrote on Facebook
“To parents who are concerned that their sons are afraid to wear pink face masks to school, officials from Taiwan’s Epidemic Command Centre have today showed up wearing pink face masks to challenge gender norms.”
Government agencies including The Ministry of Education and the Council of Agriculture showed their support by changing their Facebook logos to pink.
In 2019, Banqiao Senior High School made national headlines when it created “Manskirt week” to challenge gender norms in the school amending its dress code to allow male students to wear skirts.