“I will focus on showing the outstanding caliber and creativity of Korean women to the world!” Chang Pilwha, chairwoman of the Organizing Committee for WW05 pledged at the inauguration ceremony of the committee on June 15 last year. With the official opening of the Seoul Congress only ten days away, she seemed more confident at an interview held on June 8 than she was a year ago. Being the first Korean professor of women's studies at Ehwa in 1984, the chairwoman, nicknamed the Godmother of Women's Studies, has been lecturing there for 21 years.
-Of a variety of programs, what draws your attention in particular?
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of founding the Asian Center for Women's Studies(ACWS). Nine textbooks in Women's Studies in Asia Series --- Women's Studies Textbooks in Eight Polities --- have recently come out. We have worked on the series since 2000 in which researchers of women's studies in eight countries including Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and India have participated. Based on their first-hand look at women of their own countries, we have complied textbooks for college students. A symposium to be held in commemoration of the tenth birthday of the center and a ceremony for the textbook publication on June 23 would be the most memorable events.”
-Women's studies in Korea has an unmatched standing in Asia. Tell me about its international stature.
“In 1977, an undergraduate course on women's studies was open at Ewha and its masters program was launched in 1982 for the first time in Asia. Students from Australia, China and Japan studied at the Graduate School of Women's Studies. On the international front, like the U.S., Korea is recognized as a country that introduced women's studies at an early stage.”
-Any advice to younger scholars and women's movement activists?
“By acknowledging differences and sharing their own experiences and views, I do hope scholars work to come up with fresh paradigms.”