SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s gender equality level increased for the sixth straight year in 2016, as more men took paternity leave to take care of their children, a government report showed Wednesday.
According to the report by the ministry of gender equality and family, the nation’s equality index stood at 72.7 out of 100 for last year, up 2.5 points from a year ago. The index measures gender equality in eight major categories: family, welfare, health, economic activities, decision-making, education and job-training, culture information and safety.
The index has recorded a steady increase from 67.8 points when first introduced in 2011. In 2016, the welfare category scored the highest, reaching 97 points, while that of decision-making stood the lowest at 26.5 points.
Among finer indices, the index on parental leave marked the biggest growth, soaring 33.6 points, thanks to an increase in fathers taking childcare leave. Measurement on equality in information access fell the most, by 3 points.
According to a labor ministry statistic, the number of fathers taking parental leave between January and June this year reported a 52.1 percent increase from a year ago.
The gender equality ministry, meanwhile, announced a new five-year blueprint to raise the level of gender-equal culture throughout society. The ministry has promised to update the government’s “gender equality policy basic plan” every five years by consulting experts and collecting ideas from the public.
The blueprint, the second of its kind, lays down four major goals and six policy tasks per area. Notable initiatives include the government’s plan to expand affirmative action for gender equal employment and enforce companies to disclose information about compensation for men and women.
“The rate of female executives in the private sector currently stands at 2.45 percent. To offer an example, we plan to promote the increase of female executives in public agencies,” Lee Sook-jin, vice minister of gender equality and family, said.
The government also promised to work to increase the period of paid childcare leave and introduced health protection measures for women, such as by better monitoring the safety of sanitary pads sold on the market.