Citizenship Lab Research Project: “Women’s Political Empowerment in East Asia: Challenges Faced by Female Policymakers in South Korea”

The Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Enkhkhuslen Bat-Erdene’s Signature Work project

Student: Enkhkhuslen Bat-Erdene, Class of 2025, Institutions and Governance / Public Policy

Mentor: Professor Annemieke van den Dool, Ph.D. (Public Policy)

In East Asia, economic powerhouses like China, Japan, and South Korea are experiencing a decline in fertility rates due to historical gender discrimination. Despite the growing presence of feminist movements within these nations, gender disparity remains a deeply rooted issue. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Index, South Korea, China, and Japan rank 105th, 107th, and 125th, respectively, out of 146 countries, making them the East Asian countries with the most significant gender disparities. 

South Korea’s recent feminist movement, known as #MeToo, has brought about significant changes but also faced fierce opposition. The movement appears to have unintentionally exacerbated, rather than bridged, the gender gap in South Korean society. Consequently, this project seeks to explore the obstacles female leaders and policymakers face in South Korean politics and to uncover the underlying reasons for their exclusion from critical gender policy decisions. By shedding light on the persistence of gender disparities within the government, I aim to provide valuable insights into potential solutions to increase women’s involvement in policymaking.