Push for more female MPs in South Korea to tackle gender pay gap Push for more female MPs in South Korea to tackle gender pay gap

Push for more female MPs in South Korea to tackle gender pay gap
08 Feb 2019

South Korean women are seeking equal political representation in the National Assembly in a bid to ensure key gender issues such as pay equity and women’s participation in the workforce make it onto the political agenda.

A new proposal introduced to the Assembly is seeking to fill half of the body’s seats with female representatives, compared with 17% now. Under the measure, any political party that fails to put forward female candidates in at least 50% of the districts they contest would face fines.

While few expect the measure to pass during this session, the Bill is fanning an already intense debate over gender and political representation in South Korea. Supporters are wiring money to the office of its author, Park Young-sun, and posting screen grabs of their bank transfers.

Park, who represents a district in western Seoul, told the Star Advertiser: “Our society is a male-centric one. There have been a variety of movements pushing for gender equality, but it’s still not enough.”

South Korea has long lagged behind other developed economies in terms of pay equity and women’s participation in the workforce. The country has the worst gender pay gap among the 36 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Park said her Bill was inspired by France’s 'parité' legislation passed in 2000 and by Mexico’s gender quotas for political candidates. South Korea’s Fair Election Law currently requires at least one woman to be nominated for each constituency and recommends that female candidates make up at least 30% of the total slate running in any given election.

But the backlash against Park’s move has been ferocious, with some men attending discussion groups to criticise the proposal and what they see as feminist overreach.  It has also touched a nerve among younger men, particularly those age 25 to 29 who already lag behind women in employment terms.

Choi Jung-won, 27, recently told the National Assembly: “The men in our generation cannot empathise with the discrimination that women say they feel. The government is being unfair by giving women more say.”

But Park said she hoped the debate would spur policies to increase female representation in parliament, even if the legislation failed to pass. “I don’t agree that this is reverse sexism,” she said. “There should be qualified people in politics, but women who are qualified aren’t given the chance. So I want to make sure that chance is given.”

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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South Korean women are seeking equal political representation in the National Assembly in a bid to ensure key gender issues such as pay equity and women’s participation in the workforce make it onto the political agenda.

A new proposal introduced to the Assembly is seeking to fill half of the body’s seats with female representatives, compared with 17% now. Under the measure, any political party that fails to put forward female candidates in at least 50% of the districts they contest would face fines.

While few expect the measure to pass during this session, the Bill is fanning an already intense debate over gender and political representation in South Korea. Supporters are wiring money to the office of its author, Park Young-sun, and posting screen grabs of their bank transfers.

Park, who represents a district in western Seoul, told the Star Advertiser: “Our society is a male-centric one. There have been a variety of movements pushing for gender equality, but it’s still not enough.”

South Korea has long lagged behind other developed economies in terms of pay equity and women’s participation in the workforce. The country has the worst gender pay gap among the 36 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Park said her Bill was inspired by France’s 'parité' legislation passed in 2000 and by Mexico’s gender quotas for political candidates. South Korea’s Fair Election Law currently requires at least one woman to be nominated for each constituency and recommends that female candidates make up at least 30% of the total slate running in any given election.

But the backlash against Park’s move has been ferocious, with some men attending discussion groups to criticise the proposal and what they see as feminist overreach.  It has also touched a nerve among younger men, particularly those age 25 to 29 who already lag behind women in employment terms.

Choi Jung-won, 27, recently told the National Assembly: “The men in our generation cannot empathise with the discrimination that women say they feel. The government is being unfair by giving women more say.”

But Park said she hoped the debate would spur policies to increase female representation in parliament, even if the legislation failed to pass. “I don’t agree that this is reverse sexism,” she said. “There should be qualified people in politics, but women who are qualified aren’t given the chance. So I want to make sure that chance is given.”

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER STORIES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

OECD cautions South Korea to slow minimum wage growth

South Korea introduces emergency measures to short up employment

Unemployment rockets in South Korea

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