The birth of the paper :
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.
The paper started out as a biweekly newsletter published from 1985 to 1987, whena total of 40 editions were issued by the Women's Society Research Council. The Council was inaugurated in 1976 by the activists of the Korea Christian Academy, the very birthplace of the Korean women's movement. The title takes after a progressive women's journal called, 'The Women's News,' which was published briefly in 1947 immediately after Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule. The founding activists decided to give the same title to the paper.
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.
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 readership of over 300,000 subscribers.
The Role of The Women's News :
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 women among other things. 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.
We cannot talk about roles of The Women's News without referring to its drive for organized women's participation in politics. 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%.
While providing space to help women from all sectors of society get to know each other, the paper has served as a cradle of female leaders, and a place for exchange since the beginning of the year 2000, with more sophisticated schemes such as 'A Project for 10,000 Female Leaders,' a human resources pool composed of women, and 'The Future Women Leader's Award'.
By holding events to congratulate women on breaking their glass ceilings, such as 'A Meeting with KANG Keum-Sil, Korea's First Female Minister of Justice' and 'A Ceremony to Celebrate the Inauguration of Korea's First Female Supreme Court Justice, KIM Young-Ran,' The Women's News has excited a sense of solidarity among women.
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.' The expression, 'An Equal Couple', has become popular with the general public.
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.
by Lee Eun-kyung
Chief Manager, Commemorative Project Team of the 20th Anniversary of The Women's News
19년 간 '여성의 눈'으로 한국 사회를 재해석
한국 최초의 여성 정론지 여성신문은 1988년 12월 탄생했다. 무엇보다 여성신문은 양성평등사회 실현 의지를 모아 각계각층 1000여명이 만든 '국민주' 신문이라는 데 큰 의미가 있다.
여성신문은 여성인권 이슈와 양성평등 문화로 사회 변혁을 일으켜왔다. 창간호부터 성폭력 문제 해결에 주력, 93년 성폭력특별법이 제정되는 데 결정적 역할을 했다. 이와 함께 부계 혈통을 중심으로 한 호주제에 대해 2005년 3월 호주제가 폐지될 때까지 여성계와 연대해 호주제 폐지 캠페인을 지속적으로 전개하며 여론의 구심점 역할을 했다. 또 '생활정치'와 '성 주류화'를 기치로 내걸고 여성후보를 적극 발굴하고 지원함으로써 현재 국회·지방의회 여성의원 14% 성과의 원동력이 됐다.
2000년대부터는 여성 인력풀을 구성하는 '1만 여성리더 프로젝트', '미래를 이끌어갈 여성지도자상'(미지상) 등 한층 체계화된 시스템으로 여성리더들의 산실 및 교류의 장 역할을 해오고 있다. 이와 함께 양성평등에 기반한 창의적 사업들을 꾸려내고 이를 성공시킴으로써 우리 사회에 양성평등 의식을 불어넣어왔다.
91년, 여성들의 살아가는 이야기를 노래한 '열린 음악회'를 기획 공연해 큰 반향을 일으켰고, 이는 후에 KBS-TV '열린 음악회'의 모태가 되었다. 94년, 유엔 세계 가정의 해를 맞아 정무(제2)장관실과 공동으로 제정한 '평등부부상'은 '평등부부'라는 말을 대중화시켰다. 2001년부터 시작해 7회차까지 개최되면서 2만명이 운집하는 대규모 대회로 성장한 '여성마라톤대회', 10대부터 80대까지 전 여성세대가 함께 열광하는 '여유만만 콘서트'는 여성신문의 대표적 양성평등 가족문화 축제다.