Korea Scores Poorly in Gender Equality

      November 20, 2015 13:31

      Korea ranks a poor 115th in the world for gender equality, according to a report by the World Economic Forum which compares opportunities for men and women in 145 countries.

      Korea's score stands at 0.651 on a scale where 1 means complete gender equality. Countries that rank even lower than Korea are mostly in the Middle East, including Qatar (122nd) and Iran (141st). Turkey is the only OECD member to rank below Korea in 130th place.

      The score is calculated by measuring "economic and political parity, as well as access to health and education for both sexes."

      In terms of equal pay Korea ranked at tragic 125th. The average salary of Korean women was US$22,263, only around half the $40,000 men are paid. Korea ranked 102nd in education and 101st in political parity. Although Korea has a female president, the proportion of women in the National Assembly is a mere 16 percent and in Cabinet just six percent. The country ranked 79th in the area of access to health.

      Iceland and Norway are the most equal. In Iceland women's wages are equivalent to 89 percent of men's, while half the tiny nation's ministers and lawmakers are women and there were 1.3 times as many female professionals as male professionals.

      Remarkably, two developing countries -- Rwanda and the Philippines -- rank sixth and seventh. Rwanda has a quota system in parliament, and in the Philippines women stay in education longer than men, and more women than men rise to high-paying positions.

      Japan also fared poorly in 101st place. The proportion of female public servants is only nine percent there, and the island country never had a female leader. Only nine percent of lawmakers are women.

      China ranks 91st and is in the mid-range overall. But it lost points for the enduring preference for male children, which leads to a huge gender imbalance in newborn babies.

      On a global scale, the annual salary of women at $11,102 remains was half of the $20,554 men make. The Guardian reports that the wage gap between men and women has stopped narrowing since the global financial crisis of 2008.

      Some critics here say the WEF did not allow for the leaps and bounds Korea has made in narrowing the gender gap and should have taken factors like mandatory military service for men into account.

      The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said the WEF's report merely shows the gender gap apparent in various fields, while failing to gauge the degree of gender equality. It claims conditions for women have improved significantly although inequality still remains.

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