The Korea Herald


Several options being discussed on how to restructure Gender Equality Ministry

The divisions on youth, family at Gender Equality Ministry likely to move to other ministries

By Jo He-rim

Published : March 27, 2022 - 14:56

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Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Yonhap) Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (Yonhap)

The presidential transition committee is reviewing several ways for governmental reorganization, including abolishing the Gender Equality Ministry without eliminating its essential functions.

Yoon has pledged to abolish the Gender Equality and Family Ministry, which is the Ministry of Women and Family in Korean. Yoon considers the ministry as obsolete, and has questioned the existence of systematic gender discrimination in Korea.

A committee official reportedly said they will bring out a rough first draft of the reorganization map before April 4, when all divisions at the committee are expected to outline how Yoon’s administration will manage state affairs and policies in the respective sectors each are in charge of.

The committee’s taskforce team on governmental reorganization is reportedly reviewing several options, including separating the division in charge of family policies at the Gender Equality Ministry to move it to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In this case, they would transfer all projects related to women’s rights to individual departments in other ministries, or as a separate agency.

The family policy department would then be moved to the Welfare Ministry, and a new ministry solely for the country’s health policies might be established, according to officials of the transition committee.

Youth policies currently under the purview of the Gender Equality Ministry would be transferred to the Education Ministry in that case.

While nothing has been decided, nor have ministry officials been informed, they expect to be relocated to gender equality departments in different ministries in Sejong City where most of the government complexes are, according to a Gender Equality Ministry official.

Some observers say the Gender Equality Ministry should be restructured internally instead of being disbanded altogether.

The ministry has been a symbolic organization dedicated to promote women’s rights. It was first established as the Ministry of Women in 2001, and then expanded in its role to cover family and youth. Yoon’s drive to abolish the ministry has been met with strong backlash from women’s rights activists.

The transition committee maintains that Yoon’s plan to abolish the Gender Equality Ministry does not mean his administration would not implement women-related policies.

The transition committee chairman, Ahn Cheol-soo, has said he is reviewing several options that he would propose to the president-elect.

Ahn also plans to meet with women’s rights groups soon, to take in their opinions, according to the transition committee’s spokesperson Shin Yong-hyun on Sunday.

Still, pundits view disbanding the symbolic ministry as inevitably weakening the standing for women’s rights groups and related policies.

In addition to its reorganization plan for the Gender Equality Ministry, the transition committee is also considering restructuring the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is considering taking back the trade function from the current Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and transferring it to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

This restructuring comes as Yoon has been highlighting the importance of economic security amid the intensifying conflicts between the United States and China.

By Jo He-rim (