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Korean female leaders gather in Jeju to connect and exchange notes

All Headlines 18:53 August 24, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- Around 550 South Korean female leaders flocked to the southern resort island of Jeju Wednesday to attend an annual conference aimed at seeking ways to improve work-life balance, considered key to empowering women.

The 16th Korean Women's International Network (KOWIN), organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, has invited women leaders in and out of Korea who are credited with spearheading in their own professional fields and being an exemplary role model.

"Only when the environment is ripe for women to pull off their share of jobs can Korea jump to the next level as women's competence leads to that of our country," said minister Kang Eun-hee during the opening ceremony that took place at the Jeju International Convention Center.

On Wednesday afternoon, participants exchanged notes in various subjects like work-life balance, rejoining in the workforce after marriage and childbirth and gender equality. Four different sessions covered vastly different subjects, including government policies to tackle the low birthrate and make the most of the female workforce, how to improve female employment as well as to retain talent, and the provision of better welfare for women and environmental issues.

A special session shed light on the life of haenyeo, Korea's female diver in Jeju known for their rigorous working hours, independent spirits and determination through video clips and performances.

Outside the conference hall, an exhibition booth was set up to showcase various local products -- ranging from accessories to clothing to food -- by female owners, grabbing attention especially from overseas participants.

Some attendees have met or will meet university students studying in Jeju to offer a piece of advice about career and life in general in a mentoring session.

"The importance of a physical border increasingly fades while the global network of talents has risen as an essential engine for national growth," said the minister. "Having said that, the role played by Korean female expats is becoming more meaningful."

By wrapping up the Wednesday session, business professor Kang Hye-ryun from Ewha Woman's University emphasized the need to revise the current childrearing policies by shifting the attention more to fathers from mothers.

To tackle the persistent problem of low birthrate and delayed marriage, "Our social system should evolve in a way that a double-income family is the norm," she said.

On Thursday and Friday, participants will have separate gatherings for networking and venture out around the island for cultural experiences and visiting government agencies.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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