Monday, June 20, 2011

Media coverage of unwed moms dramatically increasing

Yoo, Ji Young, staff member of KUMSN helps those of us who don’t speak Korean, keep track of the Korean news. A few days ago she sent us an email letting us know that there were over 50 news articles, radio or TV shows regarding unwed moms in May. AMAZING! The attention was generated in part by Single Mothers Day, observed on the same day as the government sponsored Adoption Day. As a sign of the times, there was more media coverage of the moms event, than the adoption event. You can see some of the articles on the KUMSN web site, for instance http://www.kumsn.org/main/index.php?mid=kumsn_resources_article&document_srl=9483 and http://www.kumsn.org/main/index.php?mid=kumsn_resources_article&document_srl=9997 . More articles can be found on our site at http://www.kumsn.org/main/kumsn_resources_article.



Further coverage was stimulated by a forum hosted by the Institute for Gender and Law, at Ewha Women’s University addressing the legal protection of unwed moms. Papers were presented by international experts from the USA and Australia, as well as by Kwon, Hee Jung, Executive Director of KUMSN and other Korea experts. A press release regarding the forum can be found on our website at http://www.kumsn.org/main/index.php?mid=press_releases&document_srl=9902. While none of the papers are available yet (check back in July or August, we should have links to them after the Institute publishes the proceedings of the forum), the forum itself generated more press.



Another big boost to media coverage was the Seoul Hanbumo Support Center campaign to find a new word to "name" unwed moms. Associated with the campaign there were 6 articles in the Seoul newspaper, over 1800 people participated in a related online forum and 1484 potential names submitted. Check out our upcoming July newsletter for more information and find out which name was selected!



It is wonderful to see how much attention is now being paid to the issues facing unwed moms. However, before we celebrate too quickly, it seems important to note that while attention may be the forerunner of change, it isn’t guaranteed. Unwed moms continue to face the same pressures for the most part – job discrimination, housing discrimination, pressure from family and friends to have an abortion or relinquish their child for adoption, insufficient government support, and the absence of responsibility by the baby’s father. So, while it is exciting to read all this coverage, and it is clear that a tipping point has been reached in terms of openly discussing the situation for unwed moms and their children, there is still a long way to go to shrink the hurdles they face. We know there are a number of proposed bills in the National Assembly to address the concerns of unwed moms and hear that the government may also consider changes in policies to better support the moms. We also know that a few private businesses and organizations have increased their involvement with unwed moms. KUMSN applauds all this activity. We look forward to the day when there just isn’t much to cover in the media, because the lives of unwed moms are like the lives of all moms, with the every day challenges mothers face, but nothing extra.

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