Connie Chiang is Co-founder of the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA), and 2014's winner of the Lush Prize for Public Awareness.
Please could you introduce yourself and give us a brief introduction to your work.
The Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) was founded in 2009 with the aim to promote kindness towards, prevent cruelty to, and alleviate the suffering of animals in Taiwan by all legal means. Our work includes: Animal Welfare Education, Campaigning and Lobbying, Animal Cruelty Investigations, and Animal Re-homing. I am a Co-founder of the TSPCA and is currently the Executive Director.
Why were you nominated for the prize?
We were nominated for the prize because of our Be Cruelty-Free campaign, which aims to raise mass public awareness on the issue of cosmetics animal testing in Taiwan, and lobbies for changes to current legislation that will ultimately ban animal testing for cosmetics.
Why did you win the prize?
The issue of cosmetics animal testing is not well known by the Taiwanese public. Our [Be Cruelty-Free] campaign strives to enhance public awareness of the issue while pushing for a legislative ban. To announce the launch of the BCF campaign in Taiwan, we sent our 'bunny street team' to the streets of Taipei to hand out flyers and free carrots, spreading the message about the cruelties of cosmetic animal testing and why a legislative ban is crucial.
An educational section on our website was created, that includes a shopping guide, which allows the public to clearly understand the issue of animal testing for cosmetics. We also started weekly Facebook posts explaining in more detail about animal testing such as: Taiwan Cosmetics Regulations, Cruelties of Animal Testing, and Why We Need a Legislative Ban. Fans that liked/shared the post had a chance to win a prize from Spa-Ritual. We also organised tabling events to gather petition signatures and inform the public about our campaign.
Press Conference/Pamper Party – 64 Media Mentions
We held a press conference in June to announce that we would be working with Legislator Wang Yu Min to draft a new bill to end cosmetics animal testing in Taiwan. Wang sits on the government committee that is responsible for reading bills related to the cosmetics industry. Other attendees included: two city councilors, supermodel Patina Lin, bloggers, and was sponsored by Lush Cosmetics and Spa Ritual. Afterwards, we had a pamper party where VIPs tried out cruelty-free products.
Nation Wide Poll Conducted – 10 Media Mentions
We conducted the first-ever nation-wide telephone poll that gave insight into public opinion on the issue of animal testing. An overwhelming 70% of the Taiwanese public believes animals shouldn't suffer in the name of beauty.
Keeping Up-To-Date – 14 Media Mentions/TV Interview
In June, we sent out a press release announcing that China no longer required mandatory testing for regular cosmetics. In the press release we urged the Taiwanese government to take action and follow in the global footstep to end cosmetics testing on animals.
Could you outline how your work overlaps with current governmental policies?
Cosmetics in Taiwan is separated into Regular Cosmetics and Functional Cosmetics. Current regulation does not make finished-product testing for regular cosmetics mandatory. However, new ingredients or products with a new 'function' or 'new dosage' may require animal testing. Our work is step-by-step to introduce legislation that will ultimately ban animal testing for all cosmetics. Our first aim is to raise awareness, gain public support on a relatively new issue within the country, gain support from the government, and to push for an animal testing ban for Regular Cosmetics and a selling ban for any Regular Cosmetics that have been animal tested after a certain cut-off date.
What does winning the prize mean for you?
It means a great deal, first of all it is a great honor to be Internationally recognised, and it will definitely help towards our cause. The media attention will hopefully shed more light on the issue in Taiwan and allow the government to see how much of an International movement this really is. Secondly, the prize money is much needed as we are still a small organisation and really need the funding to continue our work protecting and speaking up for animals in Taiwan.