Last night, my dad declared that Korea had almost reached the level of complete gender equality. Although he used those two words ‘almost’ and ‘complete’, I was surprised and disappointed to witness his myopic opinion on gender equality issue.
Well, statistics show that he is wrong.
According to Seonham Kim (and International Labour Organization), the percentage of working women in their 30s of Korea is 20% lower than that of men. It is also a 20% lower figure than that of countries like Germany, France, UK, and it’s even lower than that of Japan where women’s rights lag far behind considering its economic status in international society.
This phenomenon can be attributed to low utilization of maternity leave and childcare leave. Korean law has extended maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days, which can be rated as a high level of social security, but in reality, it is extremely hard to actually take a maternity/childcare leave from work in Korea. (Especially if you are working in the private sector, it would be naive of you to expect that you would be able to keep building your career after taking a maternal/childcare leave.)
This leads to a huge vicious cycle. Lower institutional insurance for working women makes a lot of Korean women choose quitting their jobs, makes companies hesitate to employ women, and it causes some Korean men’s antipathy against Korean women (because they think that too many Korean women choose living on their husbands money).
If you want to learn more about Korean law regarding this issue, please refer to the link below.