"The quality of life for South Koreans ranked 26th on the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI), but Korean women ranked 53rd on the same body’s Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), indicating South Korea’s marked gender disparity."
Way back when, I was already crowing and complaining about how Korea's Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) was a staggeringly-low 63, near the end of the 70 major countries measured at the time (Check it out here and here and here and here and here and here in chronological order.)
The countries were all ranked in a 2001 UN study according to standard of living (Human Development Index or HDI) and that GEM stat. Funny thing was, Korea was one of the countries that had a higher standard of living, but whose GEM was waaaaay off from that ranking. You see, most developed countries in that study had numbers that kind of made intuitive sense, with GEM rankings that kind of matched – not in a direct correlation, but generally – the overall economic and political development of the country.
Here are Korea's peers in the 60's to the end in the 2001 study. In the left column is the HDI number, to the right of the country the GEM.
75 Ukraine 61
88 Georgia 62
30 Korea, Rep. of 63
130 Cambodia 64
48 United Arab Emirates 65
96 Turkey 66
99 Sri Lanka 67
120 Egypt 68
139 Bangladesh 69
148 Yemen 70
Korea's HDI was 30. But a GEM of 63? 64 was Cambodia (which doesn't recognize domestic violence as a crime), and the United Arab Emirates was 65. Pakistan was in the 50's.
Given that the stats had a lot to do with women's economic and political positions of power, that made a lot of sense. Did the stat jibe with reality, upon informed and thoughtful consideration? In my eyes, yes. It hadn't been long as of 2001 since women were actually in permanent, career-track positions that didn't almost automatically involve men being exclusively ending up as the top execs or even middle managers, you still didn't see that many people in office, and in the "IMF Crisis" you actually had policies in many companies of firing any woman who had a husband with a job, since the idea was that you had to spread the breadwinners around.
Yeah, statistics aren't everything, but they are useful guides, if you understand how they were made.
Anyway, apparently Korea's made a 10-stop increase in its GEM since 2002. Bravo!
But there's still a long way to go.