International Women’s Day kicks off in Seoul

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International Women’s Day kicks off in Seoul

Both Korean and expat women join together to spread awareness of International Women’s Day in Seoul to embrace women’s social, political and economic achievements this week.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon announced gender equality strategies to promote employment opportunities, as well as saying that the city will build support and health centers for women.

More than 50 people gathered to commemorate gender equality and the empowerment of women at an event hosted by the Embassy of Australia yesterday at the Australian Center in the Kyobo Building, central Seoul.

Joanne Pearce, Counselor of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the most senior female diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Seoul, stated in a speech, “In Australia, the focus this year is on supporting economic empowerment of women.”

She relayed that her sisters were the main breadwinners of the family while their husbands took care of the household and raised the children.

“I’ve only known equal treatment of women and men,” Pearce said of her experience working in the Australian public service while raising a daughter. “Unfortunately, women own 1 percent of the world’s property, and 70 percent of the world’s poor are women. This seems to be an atrocity to me.”

Top Australian envoy, Sam Gerovich, also spoke on behalf of International Women’s Day, saying that Australia is a forerunner in gender equality. He expressed that they have 24 women ambassadors around the world.

Last year marked the centennial anniversary of International Women’s Day, which began on March 18, 1911 when a million women rallied for women’s rights in Europe. Today it is celebrated every March 8. Almost 1,600 events for this day are held around the world for this year.

After the popularity of their celebration last year, the International Women’s Day Korea Organizing Committee and the Seoul Foundation of Women & Family is again co-hosting a reception and panel discussion on this year’s official theme of “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures,” today from 6-9 p.m. at the Seoul Women’s Plaza in Daebang-dong, southern Seoul.

Anne Ladouceur, an organizer of the event and founder of the Web site Korea4Expats.com, which provides resources and forums for expats living in Korea, said, “Of developed countries, Korea has one of the highest numbers of university-educated women, especially in hard sciences. But the ratio does not meet the employment rate of these women.”

Panelists include Ewha Womans University Professor Lee Hei-sook, also director of the Korea Advanced Institute of Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, and Lynn Ilon, professor of education at Seoul National University. The reception begins at 6 p.m. and includes a standing buffet followed by the panel discussion and a Q&A session open to everyone.

The cost for adult admissions to the 2012 International Women’s Day celebration is 35,000 won ($31), and 15,000 won for university students. Middle and high school students may attend the panel discussion free of charge.

Online reservations can be made at www.internationalwomensdaykorea.com.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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