[VIEWPOINT] Women's Movement Needs More FundsThe women's movement in Korea still has a long way to go. In order to eliminate gender discrimination, the women's movement must be strengthened to change the misconceptions still abounding in our society.
Women's movement associations have the capability to initiate measures to solve gender problems, including issues such as women in slum areas, sexual harassment, household violence, burdens of women farmers and the patricentric family act.
Women's movement associations have succeeded in raising women's issues as major issues in Korean society. Their success owes a lot to the active participation and dedication of women's rights activists and volunteers.
The women's movement has made efforts to achieve gender equality, democracy and change in ordinary women's lives in Korea, which are still ruled by the bad old habits of giving priority to patriarchs.
It has set out to develop policies concerned with women, moulding public opinion against sexual discrimination, lobbying the government and the National Assembly to change the customs, practices and social systems which underlie sexual discrimination.
But recently, the women's movement has been suffering from severe financial difficulties. After the opening of "The Home of Women's Peace," located at Jangchung-dong, ten women's movement associations have moved in. Among them, there are many nights when the lights in our office, Korea Women's Associa-tion United, are not turned off until after midnight.
Five full-time workers do not ever go home early; they are busy preparing for the activities planned for the next day. Although the ten total workers at the office do their best, the lack of full time workers makes night duty a necessity. Beginning this year, they cannot receive even their full living expenses because assistance from the German Evangelist Center for Development Assistance has ceased.
After Korea became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany demanded that Korean organizations should provide women's movement funds themselves because the civic societies of Korea had developed.
Civic societies in Korea have grown, so donations to support them should be a daily routine in order to maintain a wholesome society. We women should make efforts to collect money and concentrate on defending and improving the earlier achievements of the women's movement.
We can start with small things, like joining the campaign by Women's Association United to collect 10,000 members paying monthly dues of 1,000 won, investing time in women's movement volunteer activities and participating in a citizens' activity group in campaigns to solve gender problems.
Citizen participation is most important in activating donations and volunteer activities. The government should provide information in a way easily accessible to citizens who are willing to participate in donations and volunteer activities. Also, measures to induce donations such as income tax and corporation tax exemptions are important.
Women's movement associations, which constantly initiate gender issues and induce the participation of women, are undoubtedly needed in our society until sexual discrimination is eliminated. In the future, the women's associations should create a social atmosphere that makes domestic labor and the social life of women compatible with each other. Also, education, cultural activities to improve misperceptions of patriarchy, actions to revise sexually discriminatory ordinances and the enhancement of economic power of women are required.
by Nam In-son