Working Women Need More Support
Working Women Need More Support
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2006.03.02 00:00
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▲ [Photo by Choi Yoon-ji]More Korean women are working today, but working conditions still need to be improved in many ways.

  The year 2005 will be remembered for various gains in women's rights. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family was launched and hojuje, the patriarchal family registry system, was abolished. Furthermore a growing portion of women passed the national bar and other government examinations for civil service positions. Moreover, according to data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on December 4th, 2005, women's economic participation exceeded 50 percent for the first time last year.
  Economic participation, as defined by the NSO, includes all job areas except for full-time housework and studying. The percentage of women's economic participation has steadily increased since 1963, when the figure came to 37 percent.
  According to data from NSO, every one out of two women is actively contributing to South Korea's economy. The public opinion  of prejudice against working women has decreased in society, and the stereotype that men are the breadwinners and women are the homemakers has faded away in people's perception. However, there is still a long road ahead if Korea is to reach the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) average in gender equality. Women's economic participation in nations such as Sweden accounts for 80 percent, while the figure is 70 percent in England and Canada, and over 60 percent in Germany, France, and Japan. Korean women's economic participation is still the lowest in the OECD.
  Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum, South Korea's gender equality achievement ranks 54th out of 58 countries surveyed. The ranking is based on women's success in achieving not only equal rights of men and women, but equal return from economic activity. This ranking is one of the lowest, even among Asian countries. China took 33rd, followed by Japan at 38th. South Korea was 55th in giving economic opportunities to women and 56th in giving opportunities for political involvement.
  The low ranking derives from the fact that more than 40 percent of women employees are part-time or temporary employees working at low quality conditions such as unsafe environment and low income.
  Kim Min-jung (Pharmacy, '04) responded to this situation by saying, "Although the public and the media state that the rate of women employment is on the rise, most women seek for stable jobs. Women's rights are being protected by law, but unfriendly atmosphere about working women still exists in our society." Cho Soo-bin (English Education, '05) said, "When I look at my friends I realize that more women are working in the society. However, it is still a burden for women to perform the duty of both an employee and a homemaker." One of the key problems women workers face is the problem of raising children. Professor Kim Kei-joo (Women Leadership Development Center) said, "Reducing the burden of raising children is the most urgent problem to solve. The government should expand the number of child caring centers throughout the country." Professor Kim Jeong-hee (Korean Women's Institute) said, "Now, the quality of the childcare system matters more than the quantity. The educational system and facilities must be improved. Otherwise, many women will continue giving up their jobs and dreams just as they do now."

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