UPDATE : 2023.9.17 Sun 23:40
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Women's equality in Korea is in a dilemma

In TV shows or movies, we easily agree with the difference in opinions and interests between men and women. It’s understandable because men and women are different from birth to death. However, differences and discrimination are different. Women are discriminated for a long time in economy fields, social communities even artistic areas etc. Then, in the past century, some women opened eyes and made movements for women's rights. However, the rights of women are perceived as a problem in many counties. Women are treated as second-class citizens.

The history of women's rights

Where does the movement for women’s rights start? Movement for women's rights in modern history began with the Declaration of the Rights of Women in 1891, by Olympe de Gouges, a French feminist. In spite of continuous efforts by so many feminists since Gouges, women of many countries still don’t have complete legal independence and equal rights.

Women's rights became a central world's human rights issue in the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The Fourth World Conference on Women declared "Women's Rights are Human Rights” and at the same time, demanded equal status and human rights of all women and girls. This is also often referred to as “Women’s Human Rights Movement as a great development of the Human Rights Movement.”

Taeyeong Lee who had established a toehold for the family law revision as the first female lawyer in Korea, took the lead in revising the family law to extend women’s rights. She led an active life in public office, the academic world and also organizations. In the mid-1970s, she focused on women's interests and feminist movements. Her movement was centered on the Family Law amendments, such as the abolition of the Hoju system, guarantee of child custody and property division claim. These efforts bore fruit as amended in Family Law in 1989.

The history of women's rights can be found in ancient times. Ancient gender equality had been better than modern times in some ways. In ancient times, women meant productivity as giving birth to a child. Women were respected as mothers. In Shilla, it can be seen that inheritance was through maternal family. There were queens who led politics. Queen Seondeok and Queen Jindeokare the great examples. In the Goryo dynasty, family property division between men and women was relatively equal. After Joseon Dynasty, entered the strict Confucianism, most Confucians mistranslated the teachings of Confucius by themselves. They made huge mistakes on culture and caused paternalist customs. Misinterpretation became a tradition that gave birth to the male- female discrimination in modern times.

Women's rights issues in Korea

The social status of women has steadily improved in Korea. Some female rights campaigners said, “If women were never given the opportunity to lead, a move towards gender equality would be impossible.” Park Geun-hye, the first female president, won the last presidential election. According to some experts saying, Korea takes the big step toward improvement of women’s rights.

However, Korea is still below the gender equality level of advanced countries. Korea has recently become more serious about promoting gender equality. Korea ranked 115th among 134 countries in the ‘The World Economic Forum 2009 gender gap report.’ The Gender Equality Index investigates women's economic participation, opportunity, and educational attainment, comprehensive assessment of health and life, and political rights. A few Korean women are getting into politics and get opportunities in economic participation.

Norway is already very progressive in ensuring gender equality in a variety of sectors. Ten of Norway's 19 ministers are women and 64 people of 169 parliamentarians are women. The proportion of female executives in 600 companies reaches to 40%. Compared to Norway, the 19th women parliamentarians was only 15.7% of the total. And the proportion of female executives does not reach the average rate of advanced countries.

Is having a successful female leader in the country an indication of gender equality? Could elite women represent the average female? Even a few alpha girls can nicely extend their social field, most beta girls still receive less pay than men even in the same type of work and suffer from pressures of retirement, marriage and childbirth. The women leaders of society have responsibilities to hear female voices and represent women’s life. Women are now a step in trying to stand on an equal footing with men outside of the glass ceiling above. If you agree with this phrase “Women's rights are human rights”, women’s rights are not only limited to females. Awareness of men is essential. Fortunately, more and more men are recognizing the changing status of women’s rights and accept their duty in house chores.

Film Festival For Women's Rights (Fiwom)

Women's Human Rights Film Festival is the Film Festival started in 2006, organized by the Korea Women on the phone to inform the routinely occurring reality and seriousness of violence against women and to spread the culture to support the survival and healing of victims.

Fiwom contains a clear subject matter of “violence and human rights of women", to reflect in-depth the structural problems in our society that allow violence and discrimination to survive despite the numerous pains. Fiwom film is the voice of the emotional life of the affected survivors.

Sarah Park  msjwk9497@naver.com

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