Real incentives for women

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Real incentives for women

Marking women’s week here in Korea from July 1 to 7, a string of statistics was unveiled last week. The figures reflect how Korean women live their lives.

There was some inspiring news that women make up more than 68 percent of those who pass state-run examinations, and female lawyers also exceeded more than 1,000 recently.

Despite these alpha females, recent statistics show ordinary female workers are still leading tough lives.

For example, about 40 percent of females are temporary workers, which is far higher than the ratio for males. Therefore, Korean women earn less than men.

Women were paid 61 percent of what their male counterparts earned on average, which is the lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries.

Over the past years, relevant laws and systems have been changed to benefit female workers, but Korean women still face poor working environments because they are not free from child care responsibilities.

Because of this, women in their 20s with jobs quit in their 30s to take care of children. When they turn 40, women want to work again, to some extent.

For women in their 40s, however, it is not easy to find a decent job. That’s why young women put off marriage and avoid having children.

The central government offers a small amount of money to women who deliver babies, but such an incentive will not increase Korea’s low fertility rate. The only way to solve this issue is by building quality day care centers so that women can be relieved of child rearing.

Fortunately, the Lee Myung-bak administration says it will put emphasis on enhancing job opportunities for women in their 40s who want to work again.

Looking into the Lee administration’s plans, however, they are not practical because the government said it will establish about 100 centers that will help women find jobs.

The Korean government should build more day care centers in the private sector as it has at Gwacheon Government Complex. By working together with the nation’s companies, the government can find jobs for well-educated women. By doing so, the government can boost the nation’s economy as well as help each household to lead a better life.

We need practical action plans not only to help our alpha females but also ordinary women.
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