South Korea’s government has announced plans to scrap the country’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
This was a significant part of the campaign promises of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, who said it was time to launch an agency with a more comprehensive role, saying women in South Korea no longer face structural barriers to success. In contrast to the current approach, which focuses on addressing the disparities women face, Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min stated during a televised briefing on Thursday that government programs for women must be about equal rights for both men and women.
What’s the reaction from Koreans?
During the campaign, Yoon faced criticism from Koreans who said that his intention to scrap the Ministry was an appeal to young male voters opposed to policies that promote gender equality in a highly competitive job market. The likelihood of his government’s execution of the plan is, however, uncertain as it needs the National Assembly’s approval. With the legislature currently controlled by liberal MPs, the main opposition Democratic Party’s women’s committee has vowed to fight the proposal, arguing that women still experience systemic discrimination.
What’s the government’s plan for the potential replacement?
According to the Interior and Safety Minister, who commended the current gender equality ministry for its efforts in addressing discrimination against women, the ministry is limited in its ability to handle broader urgent issues like gender and generational conflicts, a shrinking population, and social problems for the elderly. According to Lee, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Employment and Labor would take up the Ministry’s responsibilities. He said that the Ministry of Health and Welfare will house a new agency responsible for population, family, and gender equality concerns.
Lee said the Democratic Party has been notified of the proposals for reorganization, and that opposition party officials had expressed worry that they would reduce the current responsibilities of the ministry for gender equality. The roles and responsibilities entrusted to the ministry would be carried out more effectively, according to Lee, under the anticipated restructuring.