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Does the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality Have to Be Abolished?  – The Diplomat


The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Household (MOGEF) has been marred by drama since its founding in 2001, however by no means has it been so thrust into the highlight of controversies because it at present is below the Yoon administration.

In April 2022, Yoon Suk-yeol gained his bid for the South Korean presidency on a lot of marketing campaign guarantees; nevertheless, it was his anti-feminist platform that catapulted his marketing campaign throughout the end line.

A top-line marketing campaign promise was the abolishment of MOGEF, however his delay in pursuing the abolishment after coming into workplace left many gender consultants hopeful that Yoon would backtrack on this choice. In an effort to maintain the ministry, some have urged a extra reasonable strategy corresponding to rebranding, restructuring, or redefining the mission of the ministry as a substitute of outright abolishment. 

4 months into his presidency Yoon’s recognition is at historic lows, bottoming out at a 24 % approval ranking. Observe that former U.S. President Trump and U.Ok. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at their lowest, held regular 34 % approval scores. Final month, in a suspected try and provoke the anti-feminist base that gained him the presidency, Yoon dashed any hopes of a stay-of-abolishment by requesting plans to be drafted for a swift dismantling of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Household. 

The MOGEF is a focused scapegoat largely due to its identify; the “Ministry of Gender Equality and Household” is an incorrect translation — maybe partly to please the worldwide neighborhood. The Korean identify 여성가족부 is extra precisely translated as “The Ministry of Girls Affairs and Household.” This appropriate translation is vital to understanding the backlash in opposition to the ministry and the anti-feminist argument that South Korean males face reverse discrimination and neglect as a result of the ministry solely caters to girls’s wants.

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The request to dismantle MOGEF comes at a time when South Korea is dealing with a inhabitants and gender disaster that has been years within the making. South Korea has a quickly getting older inhabitants, the highest suicide fee among the many world’s high-income nations, and a loss of life fee outpacing the birthrate since 2020. South Korea’s fertility fee, which is intently linked to birthrate, is 0.81 — the bottom on the planet. South Korea is the one nation with a fertility fee beneath one; to take care of inhabitants substitute ranges, fertility charges have to degree at 2.1 youngsters per girl in her lifetime. 

However what are the elements inflicting this inhabitants disaster, and what does inhabitants should do with gender? A excessive suicide fee and an incredibly low beginning fee are signs of bigger points in society, which additionally means the options ought to be present in exploring these bigger points, not triaging the signs. 

South Korea has a piece tradition downside with lengthy hours, abusive practices, lack of range, and excessive ranges of discrimination — none of which contribute to an setting that’s conducive to elevating youngsters in a dual-income household. The present financial and actual property disaster noticed the price of housing greater than double in recent times, with younger professionals and the aged hardest hit. Moreover, South Korea has a care downside, from eldercare to long-term care to childcare — significantly for girls, as the first caregiver obligation is turning into unpopular with the youthful, extra progressive generations. These societal points are intersectional and the options to appropriate them in a holistic and sustainable method should embrace a gender lens, a lens MOGEF can present. 

The dynamics of the Korean household are altering. The multigenerational house maintained by the spouse as a stay-at-home mom is being changed by the nuclear household together with the necessity for a dual-income family. As girls shift into the workforce, society is commonly sluggish to catch up, inserting the burden on girls, as was seen in america circa 1970 when girls entered the formal labor market in droves. Girls face the “Doubleday” work day, working a full-time job and coming house to unpaid care and family work. As well as, girls face the “motherhood penalty,” which regularly derails their careers. In response to those added burdens, some South Korean girls are saying no to marriage and motherhood. 

For girls to start out saying “sure,” a lot of issues want to alter. Care work must be acknowledged and in some instances formalized, and there must be a division of care work from home — a purpose why paternity depart and regular work hours are important to wholesome household development. Solely then will there be the chance for girls to remain within the workforce with out the “motherhood penalty” limiting promotional alternatives or making a return to work hostile, if not inconceivable, for girls who take a profession break. Moreover, non-traditional households have to be introduced into coverage concerns as single-parent households, multinational households, refugee households, and LGBTQ+ households turn into mainstream. 

Sarcastically, the exact same ministry that Yoon is making an attempt to abolish is the ministry making an attempt to unravel these points, which might very properly be a vital companion to his administration. 

What has MOGEF accomplished for South Korean girls?

In its quick tenure, MOGEF has performed a key position in bringing gender and households to the forefront of coverage discussions. The ministry’s positive aspects have been reasonable at occasions however shouldn’t be discounted. MOGEF was instrumental within the abolishment of the Hojuje household registry system, which required all residents to be registered below a male head of family no matter marital standing. The ministry established inter-agency cooperation for the safety of at-risk youth and victims of digital intercourse crimes. A chief final result was interagency entry to the Korean Nationwide Police Company’s Illicit Picture Monitoring System, making picture and video deletion requests a direct and streamlined course of for victims of digital intercourse crimes. Moreover, MOGEF has labored to ascertain applications and insurance policies for elevated participation of ladies in politics and the formal labor sector; carried out care advantages for childcare, long-term incapacity care, and elder care; and continues to function facilities for at-risk youth and teenage victims of abuse.

Days earlier than Yoon referred to as for motion plans to dismantle MOGEF, the ministry launched its newest report and coverage suggestions to deal with the inhabitants disaster and different gender-related points, together with: 

  • Rising the variety of state-accredited babysitters from 26,000 to 170,000, to ease the burden of childcare for double-income households.
  • Increasing the revenue ceiling for low-income households to qualify for childcare subsidies. 
  • Creating shelters for male victims of sexual, home, and digital violence. 
  • Rising the proportion of single-parent households eligible for childcare bills from 39 % to 53 %.
  • The launch of a pilot program offering a toddler help expense for folks below the age of 24 years outdated

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The concept of abolishing MOGEF and redistributing funding to different ministries to deal with gender points in accordance with their respective oversight is a misstep. Within the latest previous, different ministries have tried to contribute gendered options to the low fertility fee, however their efforts have been problematic at greatest. In 2016, the Ministry of the Inside developed an interactive web site mapping girls of childbearing age by district and province. After its launch it confronted public backlash, some deeming it a “rape map” for males to focus on girls. The location was taken down.

In 2019, the Seoul metropolis authorities created a being pregnant information with sexist suggestions for anticipating moms corresponding to “Earlier than giving beginning, put together 3-7 days of meals and garments to your husband so he can conveniently use them when you are within the hospital.” Further suggestions included recommendation for weight reduction (“hang around garments that you simply wore earlier than getting married or small-sized garments that you simply’d wish to put on after giving beginning and have a look at them whenever you wish to eat greater than needed or wish to skip a exercise”) and the advice to purchase a hairband “so that you simply don’t look raveled, as you gained’t be capable to wash your hair for some time within the hospital.” The publication was taken down from Seoul’s Being pregnant and Childbirth Info Middle web site in 2021 on account of public outcry.

In each conditions, a name to the gender consultants at MOGEF might have saved these businesses a good quantity of home and worldwide embarrassment, along with the funds wasted on creating these supplies. 

MOGEF is uniquely certified to deal with the inordinate quantity of gender points that plague South Korean society, financial system, and worldwide gentle energy. Maybe the reply is to rebrand, restructure, and add an inter-agency collaboration mandate as a substitute of abolishment. Change the identify of the Ministry of Girls Affairs and Household, alter the mission, and undertake inclusive language that displays South Korea in all its gender and household range. It’s not an ideal answer however it’s a pause, to quiet the critics and provides Yoon the chance to work with MOGEF to unravel South Korea’s pervading gender and social points as a substitute of burying them.




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