My name is Seo-Hee Hong, and I am honoured to serve as the Deputy President of the General Assembly of THIMUN Qatar 2018. I was born in South Korea but I have been living in Qatar for the past 14 years. Model United Nations has been a major element in my growth and progress as an individual. At first, it seemed too perplexing and too ambitious of a task complete; however, after countless conferences and countless times standing in front of the podium with shaking hands, MUN has found itself as a necessary role in my life. One day, as I was researching an issue for a Model United Nations conference, I came across an article that evoked a revelation regarding the injustice in our world – I had realised that my privileged life was not universal. This epiphany regarding our unequal society has led me to develop my strong passion and a vision for a better world – one that would benefit everyone.
SDG 5 holds a vision very much similar to mine – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. As a female myself, I have always observed the discrimination in the perspective of the ‘minor’ gender. Throughout history, when women had taken one step forward with much difficulty, men had taken three steps forward with natural ease. This perception may be arguable to many, but it is one I firmly believe in.
On May 17th 2016, Korea’s subdued population awoke to a startling murder case; a male perpetrator had stabbed a young woman to death out of his hatred for women – he had felt they ‘ignored and humiliated him all his life.’ This event has catalysed a stimulating debate that challenged the established sexist views and the large influence of misogyny on the daily lives of Korean women, who have often been treated as second-class citizens and suffered unjustifiable counts of violence, objectification and prejudice. Nonetheless, countless of Korean men still do not acknowledge the deep rooted patriarchal view that is becoming toxic to the progress of South Korea as a nation, even in the 21st century.
So why is Korea, one of the most developed Asian countries, so backwards in their reasoning behind their ideology? The answer to this question can be found through their progress of fast industrialization and development, which were more of a priority than modernising the culture and philosophy of the country. Despite the respect and pride I have for the difficult journey that my nation has undergone, I cannot ignore one of the most critical issues that is causing the decay of the Korean society – gender disparity and misogyny. The Republic of Korea ranks very low in international comparisons of gender equality, ranking 115th out of 145 countries according to the Global Gender Gap Report. There is no straightforward solution, but improvements have been made. In 2013, Korea had elected their first female president and had created an independent ministry of gender equality and family. Yet, there is still much to be accomplished in order for Korea to meet the targets of SDG 5.
This brings me to an essential aspect of my vision. Gender equality is not a ‘women’ issue – it is an ‘everyone’ issue, which requires the combined efforts of both men and women to achieve this crucial goal together. Just as there are two genders, the responsibility and ability to create change is divided equally. Our world needs men to cooperate and empower women as well; the HeForShe campaign, initiated by UN Women, is an accurate representation of this conception. Furthermore, Model United Nations is where we, the new generation, can have a voice and the ability to aid the progress of gender equality. Where past generations have failed attempts, we will succeed in creating an equal society, as we are the enlightened generation that can see the truth of our world and act upon it.
If SDG 5 brings the world one-step closer towards this change, Model United Nations hands us the power to grasp it.