[EDITORIALS]Quotas for Women Are a Good Start

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[EDITORIALS]Quotas for Women Are a Good Start

After a long period of discord, the Millennium Democratic Party and the Grand National Party have sung in unison, agreeing to submit bills to the National Assembly stipulating that every party has to set aside at least 30 percent of its nominations for proportional representation seats for women, starting with next year's local election. The Political Parties Act also stipulates the 30 percent nomination set-aside for women. The clause looks good, but it is not mandatory.

The Millennium Democratic Party is saying every party has to assign at least every third seat on the nomination list to a woman. The Grand National Party counters that the National Election Commission should not accept the nomination list unless parties fill 30 percent of the list with women who actually have a chance of winning. In particular, the Grand National Party is saying the government subsidy for parties should be cut if a party does not set aside for women more than 30 percent of the nominations for elected councilor seats from seven metropolitan and nine provincial councils. The possibility for a substantial increase in women's participation in politics has been increased greatly.

The 273 members of the National Assembly include only 16 women. In local councils, women comprise only 2.2 percent of the total.

Korea is 63d in the Gender Related Development Index announced by the United Nations Convention, and customs discriminating against women are deeply rooted in this country. Women encounter great difficulty entering the political arena on their own.

As has happened in France, Australia, and Taiwan, the only realistic way to secure female representation in politics is to force parties to act.

The political quota for women is intended to put more women in meaningful political roles. Some oppose the quota idea, saying it would deter the development of women in politics because it suggests they are getting a free ride. Some say the 30 percent quota is too high because not many women are prepared.

Parties should take measures to increase women's participation, such as recruiting women for nomination committees. That would make the quota system succeed in the end.
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