South Korean President Defends Decision to Abolish Gender Equality Ministry

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South Korea’s president said Thursday that the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family was aimed at “strengthening the protection of women,” despite criticism from opposition lawmakers and women’s rights groups.

South Korea’s government has finalized a plan to dissolve the ministry, under which the Welfare and Health Ministry will assume its core functions. The plan is in line with President Yoon Suk-yeol’s election pledge in May.

“Abolishing the Gender Equality Ministry is about strengthening the protection of women, families, children, and the socially weak,” Yoon told reporters, The Korea Herald reported.

Yoon’s administration seeks to elevate the veterans affairs agency to a ministry level and establish a new entity for consular services.

The abolition plan will still need to be passed in the National Assembly. The opposition Democratic Party (DP), which holds a majority in the assembly, has strongly opposed the abolition plan.

DP spokesperson Oh Yeong-hwan said the gender equality minister would lose the ability to discuss sex crime policies in cabinet meetings if the ministry is abolished, as the role will be downgraded to the head of an agency, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“Crimes against women, such as the recent stalking murder incident at Sindang Station, and other major social issues are repeatedly happening, and the United Nations also advises having an independent ministry in charge of improving gender equality,” Oh said.

Global Gender Gap

The Korean Women’s Associations United (KWAU) condemned the Yoon administration’s decision to abolish the Gender Equality Ministry, saying that the move will hinder the ministry’s authority to perform the full function of gender equality policies.

“Violent crimes against women are not declining, and their safety is threatened every day,” the group said in a statement.

According to the KWAU, South Korea still ranked 99th in the global gender gap index despite the fact that the Gender Equality Ministry has been established since 2001.

The government’s abolition plan will push back against gender equality and democracy in South Korea, it said.

“The government’s plan to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is a return to the past when women were viewed not as subjects of rights but as subjects of welfare benefits and protection, and a complete retreat from gender equality and democracy,” it stated.

Aldgra Fredly

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Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.



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