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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 March 5 - 11  > Japan’s gender equality ranks low in the world
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2014 March 5 - 11 [WOMEN]

Japan’s gender equality ranks low in the world

March 8, 2014
Japan has completely fallen behind the world trend toward gender equality.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), shows that Japan ranks 105th out of 136 states in terms of gender equality. Japan has been falling in rank each year. It was ranked 80th in 2006.

The WEF annually publishes the world ranking data by evaluating each nation’s gender gaps based on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria. Japan lags far behind other countries in equal economic opportunities.

The Japanese government established the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for Men and Women in 1985 on the occasion of ratifying the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). At about the same time, the administration enacted the Worker Dispatching Law under the pretext of “offering various job opportunities” to women who have family responsibilities.

Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Law came into effect in 1987, 7.87 million women workers have newly entered the workforce. During the same time period, the number of female regular employees decreased by 8,000, while that of female non-regular employees, including temporary workers, increased by 7.88 million. At present, non-regular employees make up 57.5% of all women workers.

According to surveys by the government, the ratio of women workers’ wages to men workers’ remained stagnant at 52.2% in 2012 compared with 52.3% in 1987. The percentage of women who quit their jobs after having their first baby increased to 62% in the late 2000s from 61% in the late 1980s.

Onishi Reiko, general secretary of the women’s department of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), pointed out that many women workers are driven to choose only non-regular jobs due to the traditional employment system in which employees who refuse to be transferred or to work long hours are exempted from getting promotions. She also condemned the national government for turning its back on unions’ demand that the state prohibit by law pay discrimination against women.
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