Dhaka, Bangladesh
What lies behind Japan’s dismal gender gap?

What lies behind Japan’s dismal gender gap?

Most disappointingly, Japan — the world’s No. 3 economy — was ranked among the most unequal countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, coming at 121st out of 153 countries. It is this nation’s worst showing since the annual report was first published in 2006. The situation has gradually improved since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to have women occupy 30 percent of leadership positions in every business field by 2020 under the slogan “a society where women can shine.” Yet the pace of reform is slow compared with what’s happening in other nations, so it comes as little surprise that Japan’s ranking is so low. The government must work harder to narrow the gender gap. In the past few years many countries have made remarkable achievements in the empowerment of women. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the second elected leader in the world to give birth while in office, following Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990. This month Finland elected the world’s youngest prime minister, Sanna Marin, 34, and women outnumber men in her Cabinet. In Japan, political parties tried to field more female candidates in the Upper House election in July following the enactment of a law in May 2018 urging political parties to equalize the number of male and female candidates, and women accounted for a record high 28.1 percent of all candidates. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates were women — a result that reflects the nonbinding nature of the law. Japan’s low ranking this year in the WEF index is due in particular to low scores in the field of economic opportunities and political representation. The report acknowledges that Japan’s economic gender gap has narrowed slightly, but it still lags far behind other countries at 115th. In the field of political empowerment, it ranks 144th. While female lawmakers make up 10.11 percent of the Lower House, the world average is 25.2 percent. — Japan Times

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