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Statement by the Chairperson of the NHRCK, On the Occasion of the 116th International Women’s Day
Date : 2024.03.26 13:47:41 Hits : 358

Statement by the Chairperson of the NHRCK, 

On the Occasion of the 116th International Women’s Day


To eliminate systemic gender discrimination, implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is urgently needed.  


On March 8th, the world observes the 116th International Women's Day, a time to honor the strenuous endeavors of individuals who have propelled the advancement of women's rights. This day also prompts reflection on the ongoing and future initiatives required to foster women's rights and gender equality in our society.


The Constitution of the Republic of Korea prohibits discrimination on account of gender, etc. Additionally, as a state party to the International Covenants on Human Rights, the state has a responsibility to ensure the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of women. The recent move to dissolve the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is alarming, given the ministry’s pivotal role in orchestrating women’s policies. Such a move casts doubts on the government's policymaking capabilities in eliminating gender discrimination and achieving gender equality.


Various metrics underscore the persistent challenges faced by women in Korea. Since its OECD accession in 1996, Korea has recorded the highest gender wage gap among member nations. In 2022, the gender wage gap stood at 31.12%, marking Korea as the only OECD country with a gap exceeding 30%. Moreover, Korea's female executive representation in listed companies is a mere 5.2%, starkly below the OECD average of 25.6%. Additionally, Korea has consistently ranked lowest on The Economist's Glass Ceiling Index since 2013.


Female representation in the 21st National Assembly was only 19%, placing Korea 120th globally, as per the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Equal representation in legislative bodies is essential for gender equality, as these institutions craft pivotal national policies.


Therefore, on May 12, 2022, the NHRCK recommended the following to the Speaker of the National Assembly: Those relevant regulations be amended so that the quota for female candidates in proportional representative nominations to the National Assembly also be applicable to nominations to constituency member seats as well as to that of provincial and local government council nominations.


Addressing the safety of women remains a significant challenge. For example, the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) and the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), recommends the following: That the current definition of rape under the Criminal Code, which requires proof of “means of violence or intimidation,” be amended so that the lack of free consent of the victim is placed at the center of the definition; that necessary legislation and other measures be taken to carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court to decriminalize abortion; and that legislation related to technology-facilitated sexual violence be modified.


In May 2024, a review of Korea’s state party report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women will be conducted by the CEDAW. The review will examine the status of implementation of the Convention since 2018 and propose enhancements where necessary.


At this juncture, the Commission urges the government, legislature, judiciary, and all elements of Korean society to intensify their collaborative efforts to address and correct systemic gender discrimination. The Commission is committed to submitting its independent report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, reaffirming its dedication to the progress of women's rights and the principle of gender equality.


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