[VIEWPOINT]Equality key to productivityIn our society, it has become a custom to verify whether a person in an important position has the expertise required in the field or not, and then whether the appointment was a balanced one or not. Recently, a new category of checking whether the appointment has been made considering the ratio of female appointments or not has been added. Strictly speaking, personnel appointment is about choosing a person who is most qualified for a certain job. Now, balanced assignments among different groups have to be reflected in such a process, and this is because it is the task of this society to fix social imbalance and enhance democratic participation.
The government has decided to test-run a policy, “Gender Influence Analysis and Evaluation,” starting from the second half of this year. This policy is to evaluate whether the results of special policies of the government have actually given benefits to men and women equally.
Some people might ask whether there is a need to evaluate a policy that is directed at all people, by dividing it into men and women. Yet the truth is that no policy is ever directed at all people. Special policies have their own major beneficiaries and those alienated from it, and considering the zero-sum game-like characteristic of the government budget, policies can be evaluated more rationally when they are approached with a specific group in mind.
The “Gender Influence Evaluation” can increase the efficiency of policies by preventing policies that exclude, or are prejudicial against women despite their intentions.
For example, the government first came up with an unemployment policy in 1998 amid the foreign exchange crisis. Right after the announcement, women’s groups criticized the unemployment policy, saying it discriminates against women, and called for revisions. The Labor Ministry was surprised by the reaction from women and said that the unemployment policy was an inclusive, gender-neutral, objective one with no intention of excluding women. Ultimately the government accommodated the demands of the women and made changes to the policy to make sure women were not excluded from being the beneficiaries.
One big characteristic of our country’s labor market compared to that of other countries is that our market is divided by gender. The employment rate of women is not only much lower than the employment rate of men, but there are also big differences in the jobs, positions, years of continuous work and salary between men and women. As the unemployment policy is fundamentally based on the situation in the labor market, it has to be improved by making job information centers for women only and job training programs so that women can be included as beneficiaries of the policy.
Government policies have to produce bigger output compared to the input, and the best way to increase output is by making sure that the benefits go equally to men and women. The government needs to keep the questions “What are the goals of the policy?” “Who are the beneficiaries?” and “How much benefit do they get?” at the center of its plans when establishing new policies.
In order to do this, they will have to evaluate whether the content of the policy has been relayed well to those the policy is aimed at, whether the policy is easily approachable, whether the communication process of the policy is problem-free, and whether the target group of the policy is satisfied with it.
The labor market and social culture, which make up the social basis of policies, have a cultural characteristic of gender division. It is difficult to expect effectiveness from a policy if it is not based on an actual situation that under basically different economic and cultural situations of men and women, there can be differences in approachability, adjustability and execution between men and women. The “Gender Influence Analysis and Evaluation” policy aims at increasing the actual effect of policies by encouraging planners, executors and conveyers to consider the realistic situation of men and women.
As the first step, the government has chosen ten model projects that will have big effects according to gender and are anticipated to result in big differences in benefits. The heads of the projects have acknowledged the need for evaluation. Among them, three policies related to job training are included in the projects promoted by the labor, agriculture, forestry and justice ministries.
In this knowledge-based society, if the effective use of female workers is an important factor that will decide the success or failure of Korea’s labor market policy, effectiveness and productivity can be increased by having gender balance in job training policies.
* The writer is a professor of sociology at Chungnam National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Jang Ha-jin