The birth of the paper:
Exploring the Blue Ocean projects and shaping the popular culture of gender equality
As Korea's first quality paper expressing fair feminist views, The Women's News made its debut in December, 1988, when the whole nation found itself in a whirlpool of women's movements and democratization. Since then, it has been regarded as the leading voice for Korean women, as it has been reinterpreting all aspects of life, including politics, society, economy, culture and education from 'the standpoint of women.
The Women's News bears great significance, as the paper was funded by people from every stratum of the society with clear awareness to achieve a society with gender equality. Thus it was a newspaper backed by "peoples' stocks".' Among over 1,000 shareholders of the paper are the former president KIM Dae-Jung and his wife LEE Hee-Ho, Rep. HAN Myeong-Sook, Korea's first female prime minister, HAN Wan-Sang, president of the Korean Red Cross (KRC), and Rep. KIM Ae-Sil, ex-chairwoman of the Gender Equality and Family Committee of the National Assembly. The first publisher of the paper was Rep. LEE Kei-Kyung, former president of the Women's Society Research Council.
The Women's News, a paid feminist paper, has been published in the form of a newspaper, and has never suspended publication-- a rarity in the media history of the world.
The publication and its readership:
In the form of a joint stock company, The Women's News is a 24-page weekly issued on Friday. Over 20 branches are being operated mostly by former women's movement activists, and the paper enjoys an online and offline readership of over 300,000 subscribers.
The Role of The Women's News:
Calling the social attention to women's human rights issues, and playing a key role in social reforms
By continuously exploring women's issues which male-dominated general papers have overlooked, and calling the attention of society to them, The Women's News has effected social reforms in terms of human rights of women, and gender equality.
The paper especially dealt with sexual violence against relatives, kids and disabled women, among other things. The inaugural issue of the paper went into the specifics of a case on sexual violence involving BYUN Wol-Soo. To escape a sexual assault on herself, BYUN bit the tongue of the assailant, and was arrested. Its attempts to stave off sexual violence significantly influenced the enactment of the Special Act on Sexual Violence in 1993.
On top of this, the paper has been at the forefront of forming public opinion by launching a series of campaigns to reform the household head(Hoju) system, or the Family Registry System, which is based upon the patriarchal family ideology. In cooperation with the women's community, the paper steadily launched campaigns against the Hoju system until it was finally scrapped in March, 2005.
When a 70-year-old woman who filed a suit for divorceagainst her 90-year-old husband in 1998 lost her case, the paper identified divorce by the aged couples as an issue of the human rights of the aged women who were oppressed in marriage throughout their entire lives. A series of attempts similar to this led to revision of the civil law by the Ministry of Justice(MOJ) last year, which called for acknowledging half of the women's contribution to the couple’s propertyat the time of divorce or inheritance.
Under the banner of "Politics in Daily Life' and 'Gender Mainstreaming', the paper has aggressively hunted and supported female candidates since the implementation of local self-governance in 1991, and played a key role in raising the share of seats for women in the National Assembly and local councils up to 14%. Moreover, the paper has looked very closely at the attitude of the mainstream male politicians towards women, and policies for women from 'the angle of women'.
Since the 1997 presidential election, The Women's News together with the women's community has served as a coordinator for TV debates on women's policies among presidential hopefuls. Consequently, the top scorer in each of these debates has ended up being successful. (In 1997, candidate KIM Dae-Jung, and candidate ROH Moo-Hyun in 2002)
One of the most salient features of the paper has been to inspire a sense of gender equality into popular culture through planning and successfully launching creative projects based on gender equality.
In 1991, the paper staged 'Open Concert' on its own to talk about life of women. The concert, ending with resounding success, later became a prototype of KBS-TV's 'Open Concert.' Celebrating the International Year of the Family, as designated by the U.N. in 1994, the paper and the Second Office of the Minister of State for Political Affairs instituted the 'Equal Couple Award.'
Last but not least, there are two major family culture festivities sponsored by the paper: since the first women's marathon race, held in 2001, the seventh race attracted as many as 20,000 runners; and the "Yeoyumanman Concert" is a representative festival being sponsored by the paper in which all generations of women, from the teens to the 80s, get together and enjoy themselves.