It is urgent to introduce active support program for rapidly increasing women of single person household.
The number of single person households in Seoul has been rapidly growing in the last two decades from 9.1% to 24.4% of the total households and the number of women of single person household is 450,000 accounting for 53% of the total one person household. Despite the sharp increase, the previous major policies in taxation, housing, social safety net, etc have been designed mainly for multi-people household and the single person household has been marginalized in government policy preparation. ‘Comprehensive Support Initiative for Women of Single Person Household’ is the public policy introduced for the first time in Korea to help previously marginalized women of single person households in the public sector and that is an outcome of enthusiasm to achieve a gender-equal, welfare city.
Most women in the single person households have been in trouble in major sectors of the daily lives: labor, housing, poverty, etc.
Coupling with the increase in women in this type of household, most of them suffer from difficulties in main sectors including labor and housing, which is the main reason why the Seoul Metropolitan Government has initiated “Support Initiative for Women of Single Person Household”. Most of single person households are susceptible to unemployment and 43.7% of them are unemployed, three times higher than rates for that of multi-people household. Even those having a job are placed in volatile employment situation as the larger proportion engages in part-time or temporary job positions. Many women of this family type reside in Chonse (lump-sum deposit payment-type) or monthly payment rental housing such as cell-type housing or shared room rent in poor districts. According to 2012 survey on women of single person household, 8 out of 10 women answered they feel anxious about volatile housing condition. In particular, provided that many women living in a large city feel afraid of potential crime, twice higher than men do, it is very critical for these women living alone to have a stable housing. This is particularly problematic in that, in reality, the number of sexual violence reported has increased every year from 3,621 in 2005 to 4,515 in 2010 (24.6 % increase) and these women become an easy and primary target to the sexual violence crime.
There exist other issues threatening the women’s lives such as mental and physical health problem caused by irregular meals or social isolation.
It is urgent to have policies responding to social changes where the one-person household is no longer special.
The rapid increase of the single person households, i.e., that the social trend of living alone is prevalent, requires a shift of paradigm in public policies based on from ‘multi-people’ households to various types of families including ‘single-person household’. In this sense, the ‘Comprehensive Support Initiative for Women of Single Person Household’ is very meaningful in that Seoul has tried to actively respond for the first time to this social changes and needs for policy.