In an effort to reduce its notorious gender gap and increase women’s participation in the workforce, South Korea has established a task force along with major local corporations, NGOs and the World Economic Forum.
South Korea’s wage gap between men and women is 38.9 percent, which is the highest among OECD countries. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report in 2013, South Korea ranked 111th out of 136 nations. According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, only 53.9 percent of women were in the labor force last year.
The Gender Ministry hopes to increase women’s employment rate to 61.9 percent from the current 53.9 by the year 2017. It also hopes to close the gender gap by more than 10 percent by the same year through the work of the participating members of the newly established task force.
“The finance sectors also realize that in order to increase the employment rate in this country, it is important to increase women’s employment rate,” said former Gender Equality and Family Minister Cho Yoon-sun on Friday.
A total of 54 major corporations, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors, CJ Group, LG Group and POSCO are participating as members of the task force.
The combined revenue of the participating corporations ― 751.78 trillion won ($737.49 billion) ― accounted for more than 50 percent of the country’s total GDP last year.
Joining them are 18 public institutions, 28 NGOs and research institutions, and 17 government ministries.
The Gender Equality Ministry in January signed an MOU with the World Economic Forum to collaborate on its task force project for the next three years.
The Swiss nonprofit foundation is providing the ministry case studies of gender-equality task forces in other countries, such as Japan, Turkey and Mexico.
The participating members came up with their own plans to increase women’s participation in the country’s labor force.
POSCO, for one, is to double the number of women in its managerial positions in the near future. CJ Group, on the other hand, is to offer its “returnship” program, a special program for women whose careers were interrupted where they can be recruited by the group after going through a training period.
According to Statistics Korea, more than 20 percent of married women in Korea ― some 1.95 million of them ― experienced career interruption last year, mostly because of child care.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)