The 18th presidential election in 2012 marked the victory of Park Geun-hye, the very first female president-elect of South Korea, a most unlikely case in South Korea. In commemoration of the victory of our first female president, ST focuses on “female leadership”other words, “woman power”for its 154th magazine. In this cover story, ST discusses how women obtained equal rights as the men to speak out their minds in the South Korean society, and introduces the female leaders of this generation as well as the realities of today’s female leadership.
In the 21st century, female leadership has caught people’s fancy. Why does female leadership get more attention than male leadership in this generation? That’s because female leadership is not “prevalent.” In fact, it took women 150 years to finally make a mark for themselves in the areas of politics and economics. In the modern Korean history, one can come to think that the women’s movement is the first trial of women in terms of participating in the field of politics. It can also be thought that the women’s movement is a distinct movement that informs people of what female leadership is. But what is leadership”? Leadership refers to the ability to make others do to make others do something to achieve their goal. With this meaning, the women who were at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights showed leadership. Nowadays, more and more women are acting as “leaders” in the society, thanks to the women’s movement, which took place about a hundred years ago. After the collapse of imperialism in Western Europe, democracy came into practice, which gave people the right to vote. Women, however, were treated as “second-class citizens.” Before the 20th century, it was a naturally accepted fact that women belonged” to their husbands and had no rights in the spheres of politics and economics. In the midst of such a social atmosphere, a handful of women took up the cudgels of female rights, representing the majority. Thanks to these revolutionary women, today’s women can lead instead of only being led. As llustrated by the graph on the left, New Zealand is the first country in the world that officially allowed female suffrage in 1893; it was followed by many other countries. In South Korea, a new constitution was established in 1948, after the country obtained its independence from Japan, and female suffrage was naturally allowed. Elsewhere in the world, however, it took some time for women leaders to go up the world stage, even though women’s suffrage had been recognized. It took nearly 80 years after New Zealand first recognized women’s suffrage for the world to see the first female president in Argentina: Isabel Peron. Following her footsteps, women leaders began to emerge one by one. Most recently, a woman was elected president of South Korea. Lastly, Saudi Arabia has announced that the women in their country can vote after 2015.