Female lawmaker quota suggested

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Female lawmaker quota suggested

The president of a leading women’s rights organization in Korea made the case Wednesday for creating quotas for women in the National Assembly, following a series reports and surveys that indicate women are underrepresented as national representatives.

“There should be 30 percent quotas for women in coming local elections,” said Kim Jung-sook, the head of the Korean National Council of Women, during a symposium discussing ways to advance women’s status.

“We need to put in place a law that guarantees the significant participation of women in politics, whatever it takes,” said Kim, who served three terms as a lawmaker of the Saenuri Party before she took charge of the Council.

Korea is currently ranked 109th in terms of female elected officials in national government, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of national legislatures from 189 countries.

Women have 47 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, Korea’s unicameral legislature. At 15.7 percent, that is well below the international average of 20.9 percent.

Kim also said that President Park Geun-hye should take steps to facilitate women’s participation in government. “Most of the decision-making posts in government and big companies are still stubbornly male-dominated,” said Kim, “so it’s so hard for women to find their way into leadership positions.”

Korea ranked 108th out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Gender Gap Index, just behind the United Arab Emirates and one place ahead of Kuwait. Women are paid an average of 39 percent less than men, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the biggest gap among member countries.

Kim also pledged to monitor legislative activities. “[The organization] will keep watch on how the women politicians in the National Assembly handle their legislative duties and whether they introduce bills aimed at women’s status,” Kim said.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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