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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 June 20 - 26  > Improving of women’s working conditions needed
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2012 June 20 - 26 [WOMEN]

Improving of women’s working conditions needed

June 26, 2012
Akahata ‘Current’ column

“You live, and I live. We have our future.” This is the catchphrase of the 2012 “Gender Equality Week”. Commemorating June 23, 1999, the day the Basic Act for Gender-Equal Society came into force, the campaign is held each year from June 23 to June 29. During the week, various events are organized in collaboration with local governments, women’s groups, and other organizations.

The number of women suffering poverty is rapidly increasing in Japan. More than half of Japan’s female workers are contingent workers. Over 80% of all working women earn less than 2 million yen a year. Around 25% of all workers are part-timers, and 70% of part-timers are women. The average hourly wage of female part-timers is only 979 yen, which is less than half that of male full-time workers.

Single mothers in particular are suffering from lower wages. The average annual income of single mothers is no more than 1.95 million yen, and many of them have two or more part-time jobs trying to make ends meet.

Traditional gender role obligations remain in households. A female worker in a two-income family raising children under 12 years old is engaged in domestic chores and childcare for 4 to 6 times as long as her partner on average. On top of that, in a two-income family with aged parents, a female worker uses her time in nursing their parents for about 4 times as long as her husband does.

Onishi Reiko, general secretary of the women’s department of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) said, “Keeping discriminatory behavior against women unchanged could lead to the lowering of working conditions for all workers, including men. To realize decent work conditions for all workers, what is needed is to improve the working environment so that female workers can continue to work after getting married or becoming pregnant.”

For promotion of gender equality and co-prosperity in the future, it is an urgent need to decrease the long working hours of both female and male workers, improve the working conditions of part-timers, regulate temporary employment contracts, and raise the minimum wage.

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