At the bottom of the list againKorea has been shamed in a gender measurement published annually ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8. According to the glass-ceiling index (GCI) of The Economist assessing where women have the best and worst chance of equal treatment at work among 29 countries of the rich-club Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Korea remained at the bottom for the 10th year. It scored 20 points out of 100, keeping to the lowest since the measurement began in 2013. The GCI combined data on a gender gap in higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, and maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications, and representation in senior jobs.
The gap in income between males and females in Korea was 31.5 percent, twice bigger than the OECD average of 13.5 percent. The ratio of women in mid-level supervisory title was 15.6 percent, just about half the OECD average of 31.9 percent. Female labor participation ratio also stopped at 59 percent compared to 79 percent for males to suggest poor labor environment for women due to childcare burden.
In the Global Gender Gap Index compiled by the World Economic Forum last year, Korea also ranked 102 among 156 countries in female economic participation and political roles. Local survey results are no different. The scorecard is shameful when you consider Korea’s No. 10 rank in economic scale and cultural standards.
Although gender disparities have improved, the data suggests accumulated inequalities. The phenomenon is not restricted to economic and political realms. Sexual harassment by heads of local governments — and secondary damage to the victims and abuse through illegal video and picture taking and sharing in Korea — have been reportedly worldwide. Sex crimes and murders have put females in a collective fear and vulnerability. According to Korea Women’s Hot Line, as many as 1,155 females were killed by men they were acquainted with over the last 13 years. Last year alone, 83 were murdered. The toll could be greater as the number is restricted to reported crimes.
Political parties also deal with gender discriminations and safety issues in a shortsighted and sensational light instead of approaching the issue in a fundamental context during their presidential election campaigns.
This year’s theme on the UN-designated International Women’s Day was “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.” Correcting innate gender discrimination and addressing the problem through engagement and harmony is a task for the new president for the future of Korea.