A century has passed since March 8 was set as International Women’s Day in support of progressive women in their struggle for independent rights and equal development of women.
The women’s issue is, in essence, an issue of social emancipation of women, half the world population, to enable them to enjoy the dignity and rights as independent human beings in all fields of society including politics, economy and culture on an equal footing with men. It is an important political issue to constantly enhance the status and role of women in the struggle to realise the independence of the popular masses.
Under the wise leadership of President Kim Il Sung, founding father of socialist Korea, and the respected comrade Kim Jong Il brilliant successes were achieved in solving the women’s issue in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
During the arduous anti-Japanese armed struggle the great leader President Kim Il Sung organised the “Anti-Japanese Women’s Association”, the first women’s revolutionary organization in our country with a deep insight into women’s position and role in the construction and development of a new society. And this constituted a brilliant tradition of the Korean women’s movement.
President Kim Il Sung organised the Korean Democratic Women’s Union as the first mass women’s organisation in the DPR of Korea on 18 November, 1945 not long after the liberation of the country from Japanese colonial rule.
Then he promulgated the Law on Gender Equality on 30 July, 1946. Thus the Korean women, who had long been subjected to feudalistic oppression, subhuman discrimination and contempt without any political rights, could participate in building new Korea as fully-fledged masters of the country on an equal footing with men.
Since then the long-continued feudalistic discrimination against women has been legally and completely eliminated.
Full rights and freedom and advancement of women in political, economic and social life starting from participation in the decision-making process, access to jobs, health care, education and training to reducing household and social burdens are guaranteed through the constitution and other specific laws concerning labour, public health and the family.
The Korean women who used to be marginalised, being harassed because of illiteracy, ignorance and no rights for many centuries, are now participating in the exercise of state power and decision-making, in administrative and economic management and in social activities as deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly and the local People’s Assemblies at all levels.
The policies and measures of our party for gender equality and women’s advancement are oriented towards not only simple gender equality but social practice of respect and preferential treatment of women that are integrated in the state policies.
Korean women have no problems in giving birth to and bringing up their children thanks to preferential laws and policies like the Law on Upbringing and Education of Children and Paid Leave Before and After Pregnancy (150days) and they have no difficulties in participating in social life on an equal footing with men.
During the last 10-odd years when the country was suffering from economic difficulties, owing to the economic sanctions and moves to isolate and suffocate our country on the part of outside forces, the state policies and measures on women’s welfare far from diminishing continuously materialised and were even strengthened.
Today women in our country are vigorously pushing ahead the other wheel of the vehicle of history as full-fledged members of society. In this process numerous women heroes, PhD holders and labour innovators have been produced.
Such efforts by our party constitute a significant contribution to the international efforts to materialise women’s emancipation and settle women’s issues.
Legalising their social rights and providing the conditions and environment for their full participation in social life irrespective of nationality, race, language and religion is the priority of importance in the issue of women.
However on the worldwide scale many challenges are still left to be addressed for genuine gender equality.
Women remain the first victims to all forms of socio-political evils like poverty, unemployment, diseases, economic disasters, armed conflict and violence. And their political participation is still found at a low level and their involvement in economic life and human resource development is no better due to the negative effect of globalization.
The gap between men’s and women’s pay, discrimination in education and job opportunities and other unequal economic access accelerate the poverty of women and seriously violate human rights of women and their dignity.
With the onset of the recent financial crisis, the ever prevalent poverty and marginalization of women, trafficking in women and children, group violence against women in regions of armed conflict, and the decreased investment in the welfare sector for women and children are all attributable to the outdated stereotype on the social position and role of women and failure to present women’s empowerment as urgent.
In order that women enjoy enhanced political status and genuine political, economic and cultural rights, we consider that international efforts to eradicate poverty, unemployment, diseases and illiteracy that threaten the very human existence and hinder women’s advancement must be exerted before anything else.
We believe in particular that all countries should pay foremost concern to providing legal conditions for liberating women from all kinds of social inequality and realising genuine gender equality.
Furthermore, it is also an inevitable task together with ensuring peaceful development of women to build a new peaceful world without war, a centuries-old desire of the world’s women, by establishing a lasting peace on this planet, against war.
The Workers’ Party of Korea will, in future too, further strengthen international solidarity in the struggle for world independence upholding the banner of independence, peace and friendship and positively contribute to the international effort to solve the women’s issue.
From: International Department Central Committee, Workers’ Party of Korea, 22 February, Juche 99(2010), Pyongyang.