On February 19, Choi Young Ae was appointed the first Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission. Thanks to her decade-long career in advancing women's rights starting with the founding of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, citizens naturally have high expectations of Choi.
"I am aware that this is the first time that a central administrative branch appointed a woman as a Secretary-General. I have a heavy responsibility. Personally, I will try to instill gender awareness throughout the activities of the Human Rights Commission.
In other countries, woman staff more than 50% of human rights commissions, showing that women are relatively more sensitive to human rights issues. We are going to utilize this feminine strength to approach human rights issues in a human-oriented way."
Currently, the majority of complaints the Commission deals with are filed by prostitutes facing human rights violation from public officers and women workers facing gender discrimination in employment.
As such, the Commission's duties overlap with those of the Ministry of Gender Equality. That is another priority task that Choi wishes to tackle - raising the status of the Commission through cooperative and complementary relationships with other departments.
"The most important thing is for each individual to be aware of his or her human rights and protect them with confidence. In this way, we can prevent human rights violations and raise our human rights index. I hope the Human Rights Commission will be a useful tool in this endeavor."