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Female lawmakers rise in number, expand legislative activities

Jan. 4, 2012 - 17:31 By

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- The rising number of female lawmakers has led to an expansion in their legislative activities, slowly introducing groundwork for gender equality at the male-dominated National Assembly, a government report showed on Wednesday.

According to the report by the state-run Korean Women's Development Institute, the percentage of female lawmakers has been steadily rising from 5.9 percent in the 16th National Assembly to 13 percent in the 17th and 13.7 percent in the 18th. The four-year term of the 18th National Assembly expires in May this year.

The report found the increasing numbers led to a rise in the number of female legislators holding leadership positions including chairperson and an assistant administrator of parliamentary standing committees.

All committees included female lawmakers for the first time in history during the first half of the current 18th National Assembly, the report said.

Legislative activities of female lawmakers of the 17th Assembly were notably expanded, with their law proposals comprising 21.1 percent of the 666 submitted in the first half of the legislature's four-year-term that ended in May 2008, the report said.

Although female lawmakers had previously focused on issues such as welfare and education, the specialization has now spread into areas including finance, the economy and land development.

The lawmakers' rising leadership has also positively affected male lawmakers' interest in gender equality issues.

The number of bills related to women's issues proposed per male lawmaker showed a slight increase from 0.04 in the first half of the 16th National Assembly to 0.2 in the first half of the 17th Assembly and to 0.4 in the first half of the 18th Assembly, the report showed.