Measures to boost jobs for women in the perspective of gender equality at work must be effective  - in a response to the government announcement of measures to boost jobs for women




  The government announced measures to boost jobs for women today (2017.12.26.). The measures have shown that the government is concerned about jobs for women and gender discrimination. But it's still lacking philosophy of gender equality at work. The new government strategy is to build a fair society without discrimination by achieving gender equality and respecting labor. Despite, it fails to see women as labor who must be respected and regards them as labor force merely to be used, which has been mistakenly repeated in the past regimes. Now it must correct the view. Women workers should not be something to be used but citizens working independently and to be respected. This is the point to start with.


  The measures are lacking integrated thinking. They start with preventive measures for career breaking. The measures diagnose women's pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing as the cause of carrier breaking and focus them to solve the problem. The measures may be fairly said as preventive measures for carrier breaking women. But women are devalued in the whole process from job opening, recruitment, roles and duties at work, promotion to retirement. Women actually experience carrier breaking caused by low wages and poor working conditions. This is why the government measures should cover from the recruitment process to the measures for aged women. As raised as a social issue several times in the past, it is urgent to come up with measure for discrimination against gender in recruitment process and downgraded employment. To solve the problem, job division by gender must be considered. Many companies run business separating jobs by gender. This leads workers to face difficulties in redressing discrimination. Women take disadvantages because of downgraded employment, restrictions in promotion and wages caused by job division by gender and suffer damages in the form of employment. The government must take consideration of these problems in the measures.


  As of 2017, 52.4% of women workers are irregular workers and 21.6% are part time workers. It is urgently needed to provide a measure specifically focused on women irregular workers. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommend to lower the rate of irregular women workers which is seriously high. However, we cannot find any measures on the problem, which is serious problem itself. In addition, the quality of employment has dramatically deteriorated in the past regimes. The average wage of irregular women workers has been below the minimum wage since 2016. Against this backdrop, the government announced that it will expand flextime system, which seems to be very risky. The government policy reflects gender discriminated way of thinking, which put both responsibilities of work and family caring on women. The priority must be to check working conditions of short-hour workers and to improve their working conditions. Extremely short-hour workers those who work less than 15 hours in a week are not protected by Labour Standard Act including four social insurances, severance pay, leave and 2 year of duty of employment. Companies manipulate prescribed working hour contract standard by chopping down contract terms of regular workers. The government must consider how to cope with the problem.


  There are several measures we welcome but we still have doubts on its effectiveness. We welcome deployment of labor supervisor in charge of equal employment but it would not be effective with 1-2 supervisors by provincial offices. The government need to set up women employment division in the provincial offices which was removed under Lee Myungbak administration and secure sufficient number of labor supervisors to monitor equal employment. This only can lead to build infrastructures to implement labor policies in the perspective of gender equality. To secure effectiveness, detailed standard must be provided to incentives for companies including customized consulting support for vulnerable small and medium sized companies and National Pension Services investment on companies with good performance in women employment. The policy on domestic work service can be effective only when substantial measures including support for the four social insurances back up the policy.


  Furthermore, improvements in the process of applying maternity leave and monitoring the process are required in the environment where pregnancy means dismissal. But there's no measures on it. Support for paternity leave would be useless because we are at the moment that quota system for father's childcare is required. Expanding remote working system needs systemic complement. This is because the system would make blind areas of Labour standard act by employing workers as special employment status. The government measures are also lacking strengthening penalties on sexual harassment at work contrary to the government previous announcement.


  There's no measure to break up glass ceiling which is the strongest among OECD countries. We cannot find any strong measures such as female executive quota system, which was successfully implemented in countries including Norway. Despite the fact that Affirmative Action lacks form of employment, compensation for companies and penalties, the policy only tries to expand the coverage of companies without correcting systemic problem.


  We welcome creating official domestic work service market, disclosing gender equal wage information, newly establishing gender discrimination redressing process in the Labour Relations Commission, introducing punitive damages, ensuring contract workers maternity payment, expanding paternity leave, nurturing work-family balanced culture and enhancing gender equal education. But It is serious problem that the measures are lack of philosophy of gender equality at work and lack of countermeasures covering the whole life of women.


  Realizing gender equality at work is not an easy task. Policies must result in changes in life. The will of government and its implementation and changes among member of the society are prerequisite for it. We call for the government stronger following measures.



2017. 12. 26


Korean Women Workers Association and Korean Women's Trade Union

Posted by KWWA


Beyond discrimination and hatred, gender equality toward democracy

:Nothing justifies discrimination and hatred




  The government born out of candlelight revolution should make policies reflecting "candlelight" citizens' voice and pursue them. They demanded a genuine democratic society where no one is discriminated and marginalized and where everyone is respected and their voices are respected. We are concerned that the National Assembly and the government do not reflect candlelight citizens’ voices. They even show moves to accept demands from hatred groups.


  Recently some hatred groups distorted the meaning of 'gender equality’ and incite and foster discrimination and hatred. These groups interrupted discussions about constitutional reform which were held around the country under the pretext to block a constitutional reform for gender equality. They even almost canceled a public hearing for Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies on 16 Nov., which is indisputable violence having broken democratic principles in public sphere. The groups aggravated discrimination and incite hatred in the name of religion and this is just like insulting their own religion. Religions fundamentally aim for humanity but they damage their reputations and values by themselves.


  What is more problematic is that the government moves toward accepting voices from the hatred groups. In the plenary session of the Special Committee for Constitutional Reform in the National Assembly in late November, some lawmakers demanded to change the term ‘gender equality’ into ‘gender equality between man and women’ in the Constitution, which was followed by media reports of the announcement from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on 15 December 2017. Media reported that it would change the term 'gender equality' into 'gender equality between men and women' in Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies. Korean Women's Association United and other women's organizations announced statements in protest against the move and the MoGEF said it uses gender equality mixed with gender equality between men and women.


  The MoGEF's mixed use of both terms, ‘gender equality’ and ‘gender equality between men and women' goes against the spirit of candlelight protests where people demanded redressing discriminations. Therefore, the government born out of hope of women who kept defending the candlelight must change the name of the act 'Framework Act on Gender Equality between Men and Women' into 'Framework Act on Gender Equality' and use the term 'gender equality.' The term 'gender equality between men and women' used by the hatred group is to exclude sexual minorities and condone discriminations against them. 'Gender equality' policies are measures to address gender inequality and discrimination, hatred and exclusion. 'Gender equality' is a basic human right in the perspective of individual right which is enshrined in the Constitution and must not be violated by any reasons.


  The National Assembly should push ahead with the unwavering constitutional reform for gender equality faithful to the spirit of popular sovereignty and representative system. The reform must be to reduce gender discrimination for the sustainable society. The MoGEF, as a responsible department for gender equality policies, must clarity fundamental principles and related contents and keep its own way to gender equality. This is the way to remove deep rooted evils in women polices while it does meet its obligation.


 We will keep close eye on the announcement of Master Plans for Gender Equality Policies expected on 20 Dec 2017.



2017. 12. 18


Korean Women's Association United and Seven sections and 28 member organizations affiliated with it

Posted by KWWA

  The National Assembly passed an amendment of Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act (Equal Employment Act) reinforcing employer's duty on sexual harassment at work on 9 November 2017. It's been 18 years since a new article on sexual harassment was included in the law. Despite, sexual harassment has not been rooted out in work places and a recent sexual harassment at Hanssem Inc. demonstrated the seriousness of sexual violence and harassment in the society. Although the amendment has been belatedly passed in the National Assembly, it has significance in a sense that it reaffirms sexual harassment at work is not a personal problem but a problem that a company has official responsibility for. It has importance in that the law reinforces employer's duty on sexual harassment as well.


  The amendment stipulates that anyone can report an occurrence of sexual harassment on the job to the employer, and the employer is obligated to verity what is reported upon receiving or recognizing it, while taking measures to protect the victim including changing working site and paid leave. When a case of sexual harassment is verified, the employer has an obligation to take measures to protect the victimized worker and to take a disciplinary action against the perpetrator. It also bans any disadvantageous action on the victim. When an employer takes disadvantageous actions on a victim, the employer shall be punished by imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won and when an employer neglects to verify the harassment, to protect a victim or to take a disciplinary action against a perpetrator, the employer shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 5 million won. It also stipulates the employer's obligation to change working place on the request from the worker when a sexual harassment is committed by a customer. The employer is also obliged to provide paid leave on demand. And an employer shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 3 million won when an employer violates the obligations.


  The law before amendment had loopholes as it had poor regulations on the employer's responsibility for verification, a follow-up process and ban on disadvantageous actions, which led to poor protection on the victims. It was rampant that victims suffered secondary and further victimization and damages such as bullying at work and disadvantages in employment, which was well illustrated in the survey on victims by sexual harassment conducted by Seoul Women Workers Association in 2016. The survey found that 57% of the respondents experienced disadvantages at work after raising sexual harassment issues and 72% of them left company. The law lacked in articles by which workers were protected from sexual harassment committed by a customer and this led to frequent sexual harassments by customers.


  Only one out of 552 complaints in regards to sexual harassment at work submitted to the Ministry of Employment and Labor was prosecuted and 26 cases were dropped. 453 were ended as administrative closure. There are complains that courageous complaints would result in little effects because of narrow interpretation despite the fact that these sexual harassments take place among working relationships.


  The number of counselling about sexual harassment at work via Hot Line for Equality & Counselling for Equal Employment has increased every year and women labor movements have continuously made efforts to amend the law to reinforce employer's obligation to protect victims of sexual harassment at work. The amendment was desperate and urgent as sexual harassment was in violation of equal rights for women and right to work with dignity.


  The employer's obligation including protection on victims must be effectively reinforced by taking the amendment as an opportunity. It is not a victim’s personal problem. This is why employers must carry the responsibility for verifying the case, taking disciplinary actions, and making efforts to prevent the recurrence of sexual harassment. The Ministry of Employment and Labour must have stronger responsibility to enact the amendment effectively. If it neglects its roles despite the fact that the law is amended, we cannot expect effectiveness of the amended law. Every corner of the society including employers and the government must continue to make efforts to make our workplace safe with gender equality and no sexual harassment.



2017. 11. 10


Posted by KWWA