There is a growing support for the claim that gender inequality and feminization of poverty in South Korea increase and acquire new features. However, each state has to ensure the respect for human rights provided by national and international legislation, as equal rights are one of the hallmarks of the rule of law since the issues of equality and non-discrimination apply to everyone. The problem of women in South Korea has to be solved not only at the national level but also globally, as the country has an impact on world’s society; thus, the problem touches each person. I will approach to the research by determining the causes of the issue that can clarify the future ways to its solution. Women are more vulnerable to unequal attitude, social problems and they are more dependent on financial support, especially if they have children. Nevertheless, the implementation of these rights is not fully guaranteed in today's South Korean society. The essay will research gender inequality and feminization of poverty in South Korea as well as grounds of the issue.
Women are more often affected by poverty, and the risk of being poor is much higher among women than men in South Korea. This ratio is three to one; thus, poverty among the women who have their own household is three times higher than among men. The problems faced by Korean women while running their households highlight the basis for the growth of female poverty. Labor costs, or time use, among women are definitely high (Figure 1.).
Double and multiple types of permanent poverty are a part of female experience when focusing on the issue of working hours. Women living in poverty have the greatest number of working hours and they do not have the opportunities to improve their lives since all free time that they have is needed to support their households. The lack of financial resources and free time makes women’s desire to change their lives and raise their living standards unattainable. The studies run with the help of the Theil Index Decomposition have showed that the proportion of poor women on combined work increases. It is especially noticeable among the deprived women. The researches show that equality will be achieved only if women are paid for home labor, which will reduce gender inequality. It has been proven that the women who suffer from poverty are forced by their life circumstances to work intensively. Moreover, it has been confirmed that the gender gap on the total time is more than three times higher than the fundamental difference between the rich and the poor.
In the matter of increasing the time spent on household improvement, gender inequality becomes more visible in terms of the overall economic crisis in the world. Women’s employment covers the entire time outside professional work or time for physiological needs such as sleep. Being a traditionally domestic work, buying food, cooking, and cleaning the house are mostly women’s activity. Moreover, there is a reduction in people’s purchasing ability in South Korea under the conditions of impoverishment of the population. It is the reason why the feminine energy consumption in the household sphere has grown even more. The search of cheap products and labor-intensive preparation of inexpensive homemade dishes require additional time. Furthermore, the number of service industries in the country is high, but they are often unavailable to the poor local women. The economic, political, and social processes lead to the fact that in addition to contributing to the economy of the country, women spend on their household chores a significant amount of hours. The daily cost of time spent on chores by married men on average is three times smaller than that of their wives. Thus, the division of labor to service families among its members remains uneven and unequal.
Women often lose out in the competition for a good place in the labor market. Economists and sociologists of neoclassical and Marxist orientation underline the existence of gender segregation in professional employment. The trend of employment of women for strictly defined professions, employment spheres, and job categories is defined as sex gender occupational segregation. There are two types of gender segregation in employment - a horizontal and vertical one. The uneven distribution of men and women in industry and by occupation represents a horizontal occupational segregation. In South Korea, the highest concentration of women is observed in the areas that, in accordance with their specifics of tasks, belong to the service sector, trade, education, health care, and public nutrition. Nevertheless, female presence in governmental institutions is still low.
Vertical occupational segregation means disproportionate distribution of women, taking into account the level of official hierarchy. Belonging to the same profession and having commensurate qualifications often do not mean that women have equal access to career advancement if compared to their male colleagues. Within the same areas of employment, men and women have very different prospects of promotion; thus, the status effects for certain types of work are different for men and women. It is especially noticeable in the area of government. It means that the higher social status of a position is, the less likely that it is held by a woman.
In addition to prejudice in employment and career advancement, a typical situation is discrimination in payment. According to the monitoring studies, in South Korea, women's wages have averaged about 60% of men’s salary over the past decade. Substantial gender differences in income are obvious among the citizens of South Korea. For almost all age groups, men's income levels are significantly higher than the income of women. The consequence of this situation is an increased risk of poverty for the female half of the population, especially in the situations where a woman is the only breadwinner in the family. For instance, women represented 26.9% of family workers in South Korea in 2008. Moreover, in 2009 the amount of employed women was 47.7% of population.
It is necessary to stress that the equality of women and men is defined by the absence of privileges or limitations based on sex. Moreover, it denotes the same legal status of men and women as well as opportunities for its execution. In 1948, women received constitutional rights for equal prospects to engage in training, labor, and public life. International gender development projects highlight the tasks to be achieved to struggle the feminization of poverty in the country. These projects aim to enlarge the number of women in the government, to assist women’s engagement, make available support for female workers as well as to enhance educational prospects for women, and to run social welfare policies for females. Progressive Korean women seek the status that allows individuals of both sexes to develop their potential, abilities, and skills in all areas of public life freely. They also support the development of projects providing equal opportunities in the field of public service and service in local government, education and training, employment and receive adequate remuneration for their work. However, most South Korean residents still consider that friendship with the appropriate people is the most important. It is the most regularly cited basis to success (Figure 2.; Figure 3.).
Moreover, citizens of the country believe in the better future for their children if parents work hard (Figure 4.).
In conclusion, the feminization of poverty in South Korea is an evident and burning issue. Korean women often suffer from inequalities in terms of wages and working hours even if they have the same knowledge and skills as their male co-workers. It has been investigated that the main cause of growth and poverty among women in South Korea is a large amount of time devoted to work and running home households. The lack of free time is often the cause of the inability to change the standard of living. Very few women work in government agencies, and that has an impact on the government programs and policies of the country.
The state tries to establish the laws providing equal rights and possibilities for men and women. International projects can provide the avenues to the issue solution. Discrimination in the matter of payment deepens this negative issue. Women continue to suffer from unequal attitude at work and glass ceiling. Vertical and horizontal occupational segregation is still present in Korean society. Local traditions and the reality of life in South Korea have led to the fact that poverty only increases, especially among women.