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Taiwan narrowing gender gap, but patriarchy lives on

More women are winning political office, despite obstacles

Lai Pin-yu, in full cosplay mode, campaigns with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December just two weeks before becoming the island's youngest-ever legislator at 27. (Courtesy of the Office of Lai Pin-yu)   

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, took a break from her reelection campaign in late December to stump for a coalition of young progressive legislative candidates known as the Front Line. Donning a black bomber jacket at the center of a crowded stage, Tsai expressed her support for Lai Pin-yu, a 27-year-old DPP candidate standing at her side, smilingly describing her as "dressing differently than traditional candidates."

Tsai's quip drew laughter from the audience, and a grin from Lai, impossible to miss in a red-and-black vinyl bodysuit and a neon orange wig with pigtails, who was cosplaying the 1990s anime character Asuka Langley Soryu. As she stepped forward and waved, the crowd roared in approval. Two weeks later, to the surprise of many observers, she was elected as Taiwan's youngest-ever legislator.

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