[EDITORIALS]Equal treatment, not favorsThe reason we have a Ministry of Gender Equality is to provide more equitable opportunities to all members of society. If someone is discriminated against because of gender, the problem must be solved. But if government action is only for the benefit of women, the ministry’s role will be in danger. In its report to the president, the ministry reportedly said it wants to rectify “indirect” sexual discrimination cases. In principle, we welcome the ministry’s will to address discriminatory practices, but we should note that something is wrong with the ministry’s perception of “discrimination.” By sticking to “expanding women’s rights,” there is danger that it set bad definitions of sexual discrimination in concrete.
The ministry claims that recognizing teachers’ experience in teaching at remote schools and scheduling education and training classes after working hours is “indirect discrimination” against women. It is not right to label as discrimination incentives to those who work under special hardships just because only a small number of women teach in remote area schools. Regardless of their sex, is it fair to treat teachers who sacrificed a comfortable life, suffered from difficulty in educating their children and lived with hardship just like those who enjoyed a comfortable urban life? If female teachers are disadvantaged in their job advancement because of strong competition and a glut of applicants, it would be better to demand revisions to the assignment system rather than criticizing a system of favoring teachers who worked at remote schools.
The ministry claims that “female teachers find it difficult to teach at remote schools” and “education and training schedules do not reflect female teachers’ household burdens after working hours.” Therefore, it said, they are discriminatory. It is true that working Korean women, because of the patriarchal system, suffer from the dual burden of home and workplace jobs.
Not “giving favors to women” but “treating women as equal workers” is the fundamental remedy. When men share housework, we will have a more equal society.