South Korea has the world’s lowest birth rate, according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday, as women in Asia’s fourth-largest economy struggle to achieve a balance between work and other life demands.The annual report by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) found the fertility rate per woman in South Korea was only 1.1, the lowest among 201 countries surveyed.”Even as women have gained equality in access to education and work, decisions on having more children are constrained by their ‘second shift’ in taking care of children and managing households,” said Won Do-yeon, chief of the UNFPA’s Seoul office, in an email interview with Reuters. Topics : Crimes involving dating violence and spy cams have led thousands of women in South Korea to protest in recent years, calling for stricter penalties and enforcement of laws.”A strong civil society and women’s groups are critical to addressing the emerging forms of violence,” Won said.Other countries with a low birth rate included Bosnia and Herzegovina and Singapore at 1.2, and Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Portugal at 1.3. Reversing the decline in fertility will require wider institutional reform consisting of policies to empower women, as well as the greater involvement and support of men, he said.The UN report, which looked at practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality, featured a group of South Korean female activists who fought to curb a deep-rooted preference for son in the 1980s.In 1994, 115.4 boys were born in the country for every 100 girls, but the ratio has dropped to 105.6, around a natural level, it said.However, women in the country still face more domestic responsibilities, a glass ceiling at workplaces and new forms of gender-based violence including online sexual abuse, the report said.
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After 31 years of running the largest annual one-day food drive benefitting the Clark County Food Bank, Walk & Knock volunteers aren’t afraid to experiment.Over the last few years, donations have stayed about the same despite swift population growth in Clark County. Donations peaked in 2010, when 166 tons, or 332,000 pounds, of food was collected. Last year, Walk & Knock collected 133 tons, or about 266,000 pounds, of food and $14,000 in monetary donations. Board member and volunteer Tom Knappenberger takes that as a sign that Walk & Knock isn’t reaching everyone. Maybe newcomers don’t know about the food drive or don’t get the newspaper.“We’re trying different things this year to educate and remind them,” he said.That includes a prerecorded call from former Trailblazer announcer Bill Schonely, reminding people to put out a bag of nonperishable food on their doorstep before 9 a.m. Saturday. Employees at both Chuck’s Produce stores have been wearing buttons reminding customers about Saturday’s food drive and stapling reminder cards to grocery bags. Also, reminder postcards were sent to about 10,000 homes in Camas.While it will be difficult to determine what boosts food donations, Walk & Knock and the food bank are eager to see if these methods work this weekend.Food distribution has leveled off, recently returning to pre-recession levels with the improving economy.That doesn’t mean hunger has gone away, said Matt Edmonds, program manager at the Clark County Food Bank. Many families in Clark County are still food insecure.