BUSAN, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – A conference titled ‘Marriage Is’ was held by the Busan Woman NGO Federation on October 20 in Busan, where 200 men and women of marriageable age, led by an expert from the Busan Women and Family Development Institute (BWFDI), participated in a wide-ranging discussion on the current challenges surrounding marriage and childrearing.
According to Moon Jeong-hee, the expert from the BWFDI, Busan’s proportion of women of childbearing age (15 to 49) this year was measured at 46.5 percent, the lowest amongst seven major urban areas (Busan, Seoul, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan). It marked the 10th straight year Busan ranked last in this particular category.
The number of children born last year was also the lowest recorded in history; the 24,906 born was a steep decline compared to the 40,877 born in 2000.
The main reasons for the low birth rate were the younger generation’s differing viewpoints towards the necessity of marriage and the lack of policies guaranteeing better conditions for mothers.
One unmarried woman in her 20s explained, “As I began working a bit later than usual, I didn’t have the opportunity to save up for marriage. Also, I still need time to focus on me and invest in myself.”
The woman, who mentioned that she was employed at a local bank, continued by saying, “Though I do have hopes and dreams of getting married, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to adhere to the guidelines and age requirements that societal norms have decided. I believe that there is no problem getting married when I’m 40.”
During the show, Moon revealed the results of a survey in which 43.2 percent of Busan citizens responded positively to the statement ‘Getting married is not a must’. In 2010, only 31.6 percent responded likewise to the same statement.
Moon also stressed the plight of mothers as a significant problem.
“Though the number of women in the workforce has gone up, the amount of household work done by women compared to men at a ratio of 5 to 2 is still a major problem. Child support policies are also inadequate, making a sustainable work-life balance situation difficult for many,” she warned.
With one Busan Woman NGO Federation member sharing stories she had heard of couples opting for vasectomies before getting married because of financial pressure over buying a home and anxiety regarding the future, the men and women present were united in their belief that measures to alleviate such situations were an urgent necessity.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)