The time under President Park's government, which will be remembered as one of the most distrusted government by many South Korean citizens, was especially tough for the women. Five out of six women workers are now struggling with their minimum­wage level  income. Once women experience career breaks, they are given few career options but the unstable, temporary jobs with low pay. But in South Korea, this is not the first time the women workers became the most vulnerable to the entire social risks.

   In the 1970s, despite their huge contribution to the economic development of South Korea, South Korean women workers suffered from their low income and unstable working conditions. In the late 1990s, at the time of the IMF crisis, the women workers were the easiest target of dismissal for the companies. And this year, the young women workers are in the midst of recent unemployment crisis. These young women had been taught to dream big, and they believed they could make it. However, entering the labor market, they experienced various types of discrimination, such as employment discrimination, lookism discrimination, and violence based on gender. Strikingly, all these types of discrimination were being so openly committed. In this unequal society, where women can hardly compete with men in the labor market, recent talks on empowered women's status are nothing but the lies to cover up today's gender inequality. 

   So­called 'decent jobs' are hardly open to the women. Once women came through extreme competition and succeeded in landing a job, they have to struggle with a glass ceiling. At the workplace, women workers are often disadvantaged for the promotion, paid less, and given the unstable working status. The higher the rank in the company, the lower the percentage of women workers holding the position. The burden of child­rearing is another obstacle for the women workers. Although they are given almost all the child care responsibilities, their rights to care their young children are hardly protected. Men workers are also hardly guaranteed rights to look after their young children. To many workers in South Korea, whose fertility rate is the lowest among the OECD countries, child­care leave is the option for only a few who are 'very brave'. 

   During their time of pregnancy and child­rearing, many South Korean women experience career breaks. When they re­enter the job market later, the quality of jobs available to them is much lower than that of their previous jobs, both in the income and in the working status. The elderly women workers are, in general, placed at the bottom of the labor market in South Korea. Many elderly women are working either as the subcontracted workers, who are the most vulnerable group even among the temporary workers, or as the care workers, who are being 'publicly exploited' by the government. Their pay is considered just 'additional' to their family income, and their role at the workplace is  regarded as just 'ancillary'. This tells us women in this country have been long suffering from discrimination and exploitation, regardless of their age and generation. 

   All this absurdity and inequality in South Korean society can be summarized as the numbers, '100:64'. This is South Korea's gender wage gap, twice of the OECD nations' average and the biggest among them for the recent 15 years. This means women are paid only 64 while men are paid 100 for their work. This is as if after 3 PM women work without pay everyday. This is the reason why today on International Women's Day, we women workers came together to shout "Stop at 3 o'clock!". We South Korean women workers are on the edge of a precipice, as we are underestimated, treated as cheap labor, and deprived of our opportunities at the workplace. 

   We want a society where women are no longer deprived of their rights due to their gender. 

   We want a nation where sexism and the exploitation of women is taken as a deeply serious problem.

   We will fight to obtain our lost rights and 36% of 'pocketed' income. 

   Worldwide, it is women who have been the easiest target of discrimination and exploitation. However, women have power to persistently fight for their rights and to improve their society. This is how women gained the franchise and how they could stand against and criticize those of supreme power. We, South Korean women workers will also keep fighting against our society's problems. 

   In order to help make our society more just and safe for the women, today, we women workers will begin a campaign to obtain signatures from 100­thousand South Korean citizens, as a way to demand the problem of gender wage gap to be chosen as the upcoming presidential election's agenda. 

   The gender wage gap should be abolished! 

On International Women's Day, Mar. 8th, 2017

By the participants in a rally against

the gender wage gap, 'Stop at 3 o'clock!'

Posted by KWWA