COVID-19 doesn't see colors. C: Japan-Taiwan Exchange Assoc.
Masks produced in Taiwan

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwanese government has implemented uniform control over the production and selling of masks to ensure a sufficient and effective supply is available to all citizens.

Under the rationing plan, masks of different colors are randomly distributed at convenience store pick up points, and in pharmacies.

Should Boys Wear Pink?

Recently, however, a number of parents with school age children complained that their sons were reluctant to wear pink masks to school.

Reports said they feared being jeered by their peers.

This quite unexpectedly provoked a discussion about gender equality education in Taiwan.

Responding to the initial complaints, Chen Shih-Chung, the head of Taiwan’s National Health Command Center (NHCC) who also serves as the Minister of Health and Welfare, along with several other top ranking chief executives opted to don pink masks at a resulting press conference.

The officials made examples of themselves in hope that they could break the stereotype that pink is for girls.

“There is no innate sex for colors” Minister Chen said at the event.

Society Responds

In the following hours, many offices and departments throughout Taiwan’s public sector, along with a host of well-known brands and influential social media personalities changed their logos to pink to help support the statement made at the press conference, in turn helping to convey the concept of gender equality.

President Tsai Ing-wen herself posted on Instagram and Facebook alongside medical personnel in different-colored masks.

“Masks are here to protect us, not to differentiate ourselves from others through color.” she wrote.

The issue of whether or not boys can and should wear pink masks also brought about a confrontation against long-standing gender stereotypes in society on the wider, global stage.

“Though we can see that there is still great room for improvements, I’m pleased to find people paying more attention to this issue.” said Li Yueh; host of a popular Taiwanese children’s program, when speaking to BBC News.

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