[EDITORIALS]Progress for womenThe year 2005 can be remembered for visible and systematic gains in women’s rights. The launch of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family along with the abolition of hojuje, the patriarchal family registry system, are good examples. It was meaningful that on the same day the Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional a civil law that forced children to take only their fathers’ surnames, we saw news reports that a growing portion of women passed the national bar and other government examinations for civil service positions.
However, there is still a long road ahead to reach world standards in gender equality. According to the World Economic Forum based in Switzerland, South Korea’s gender equality achievement ranks 54th out of 58 countries surveyed. This is almost rock bottom compared to developed Western countries and even among Asian countries. China took 33rd, followed by Japan at 38th. South Korea was 55th in giving economic opportunities to women and 56th in giving opportunities for political involvement. This is unacceptable, and we must take radical measures to amend systems and conventions so that women can truly realize their roles at workplaces and in society.
A crucial issue is the problem of raising children. Employers must regard pregnancy leave as a measure to improve the quality of its workers, not simply as a benefit for them. It would be problematic for women to suffer discrimination in the name of consideration. Of course, women must make efforts to be truly professional. To be a winner in the 21st century, an era of competition in which women will play key roles, we must gather wisdom to make the most of female workers.