Sookmyung Women's University Research Institute of Asian Women held an academic online video conference on September 9. The Research Institute of Asian Women is an organization that contributes to the realization of gender equality and social integration in Asia, and regularly publishes research and articles on gender and multiculturalism. The conference is an annual event, and this year, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in-person participants were limited to debaters and presenters, and the audience could watch through Zoom. The theme of this year's conference was "The Future of Inclusive Society and Women's Labor." In order for Korea to become an "innovative inclusive country," the vision of the current government, above all, it must establish a strong social safety net in basic areas of life such as income, medical care, and employment stability. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2019, the vulnerability of the women's labor sector, especially due to the concentration of occupations and polarization of the employment structure due to gender dichotomy, is notable. Therefore, this conference attempted to establish a social safety net and set up a place for learning to spread a sense of coexistence with the socially vulnerable while looking at welfare-related policies in the period of social transition worldwide. The conference consisted of five sessions: inclusive society, women's labor, women's labor market, women's job paradigm, and disabled women's labor market. SMT reporters interviewed Jang Minsun, director of the Research Institute of Asian Women, who pointed out the last session as the most impressive session in this conference session. In the last session, Won Sungeun, who is the chairperson of Sookmyung Women's University's disabled student club "Irudaan," presented on the theme of "Analyzing the Labor Market Status of Women with Disabilities and Searching for Improvement." In the presentation, she suggested policy proposals such as guaranteeing women with disabilities' continuous learning rights, continuing surveys on the employment of women with disabilities, developing programs to train vocational consulting experts for the disabled, and expanding expertise. In response, Jang said, "The announcement showed that women with disabilities face intersectional difficulties of both women and disabled people, and it was of great significance that a forum was provided for discussions on the vulnerability of women with disabilities."
This conference is of great significance considering the current social structure and women's labor market in Korea. In Korea, women's employment rate and participation in economic activities have increased compared to the past. However, among OECD countries, women's socio economic participation remains low, such as the low employment rate of women and women's distinct career breaks. In addition, Korean women's labor is rather vulnerable to the national economic crisis. For the nation to become a truly inclusive society, it is essential to establish a social safety net and welfare policies to protect the vulnerable. Against this backdrop, this conference can be seen as having a positive effect on the path to an inclusive society through a feminist study into women's labor. Social structure, perceptions, and the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy were discussed from the perspective of the humanities and philosophy to understand why women occupy an unequal position in the labor market. In addition, academic discussions were actively conducted to understand the vulnerable more realistically and systematically through empirical data analysis on the current status of various statistics and legislative policies and the status of female workers in the labor market. Lastly, the problem of the vulnerability of women's labor was analyzed in-depth quantitatively and qualitatively, and the nature of the problem and reasonable alternatives were suggested. Jang Minsun commented, "I think this conference found clues to future-oriented problem solving related to the vulnerability of women's labor and laid the foundation for an innovative inclusive society. Also, research data and discussions explored through this conference will contribute to strengthening national competitiveness by reflecting policies for vulnerable women in the future, as well as improving women's human rights and revitalizing the labor market, and further serve as a driving force for global growth." She believes that the conference not only influenced the developmental discussion of an inclusive society and women's labor market, but it has also shown that now is an important time to contribute to social integration and to present a vision for a future society to protect the socially disadvantaged.
Kim Lee Jiwon / Reporter
Park Sung Iyoung / Reporter