International Women’s Day is celebrated (almost) everywhere, with marches, strikes, or gatherings. Japan isn’t so lively nor loud, yet it seems to be slowly picking up steam as a movement.
Some data: The number of Japanese working women is increasing, nearing 70% of women participating in the job market in 2017. The weight of social expectations’ is becoming lighter, but returning to work after pregnancy is still not an easy task. Japan lacks nurseries, very few men take paternity leave (3.2% in 2016), consequently only over half of the women go back to work.
Some companies promote remote work and flexi-time to help women reconcile family and work. But there is a big step missing. Perhaps we should be asking why parenthood is still seen as solely women’s responsibility?
But, wait, womanhood is not only about maternity?!
More Japanese women are working, sure, but they are far from being paid fairly. To be honest, I wasn’t aware how bad it was. Japan has the third highest wage gap in the OECD, an astonishing 25.7%. In other words, Japanese women work for free for a full trimester.
Better is clearly not enough
We can keep going on about what else is wrong with gender inequality, but that is not the point of this post. In Japan specifically, the main concern, in my mind, should be realizing that there actually is a problem and question why. Contrary to stereotypes, Japanese women are ambitious and strong, so why would you try to leave them out?
Ladies, whatever your choices are, we hope you are surrounded by men and women who lift you up, and not tie you down. Support the ones who are not as lucky and speak up. HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!
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