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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 March 6 - 12  > International Women’s Day marks 90th anniversary in Japan
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2013 March 6 - 12 [WOMEN]

International Women’s Day marks 90th anniversary in Japan

March 8, 2013
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), which serves as an opportunity for women to take action across the world to call for improvement of their living conditions, gender equality, and peace.

This is the 103rd anniversary of the foundation of IWD, the 90th in Japan, which commemorates the day women rose up for “bread, rights and peace”. Women have held a variety of actions and events for a long time to put together their demands and develop their struggles.

The United Nations began celebrating the IWD in 1975, and designated it as the “UN Day” two years later. The UN defines the day as “rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men”.

According to the World Economic Forum’s international rankings of gender equality in economy and politics, Japan is ranked 101st of all 135 nations participating. While almost all countries are trying to make rules in accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) with the aim of abolishing disparities between men and women, the Japanese government sticks to its policies oriented towards business circles. Japan, which is sometimes called a “lawless” society in reference to regulatory restrictions, has also become an “exceptional” state in terms of lack of gender equality.

In Japan, 55% of female employees are working as non-regular employees. Nearly 80% of non-regular workers are women, and they earn less than two million yen a year. Many women are suffering from the widening economic gap and increase in poverty. The shortage of authorized daycare centers in urban areas prevents mothers from participating fully in the working world.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in his policy speech called for building a country in which women live a full life. Without establishing and strengthening rules to protect women’s rights, neither promoting women’s empowerment nor reviving Japan’s economy can be achieved.

Now Japanese women’s struggles are spreading in many fields. Female workers are striving to change their workplaces into ones where they can work without suffering from gender discrimination. Mothers in Tokyo, whose children were unable to enter public childcare centers, filed complaints with the authorities, arousing public attention to the issue. Young mothers’ grassroots movement aiming to protect children from radioactivity and create a nuclear-free society has also been expanding all over the country.
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