Japan is likely to sink deeper into stagnation unless society can change in a way that makes it easier for women to play a greater role by capitalizing on their abilities. This problem is highlighted every year by Japan’s abysmal positions in the international rankings of gender equality.
This year, Japan was ranked 94th of 134 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI), compiled by the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based nonprofit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that brings together business and political leaders from around the world. The index is based on such criteria as the ratios of men and women among members of parliament and corporate executives, and in wages.
Similarly last year, Japan ranked 57th among 109 countries in the United Nations’ Gender Empowerment Measure, which measures women’s standing in political and economic areas in a country.
However, Japan did take the 12th position among 138 nations in the rankings of the Gender Inequality Index, a measure of inequality in achievements between men and women introduced this year by the United Nations. The higher the ranking, the lower the inequality.
But Japan’s relatively good performance was due to higher weight given to such criteria as maternal mortality.
This may make some Japanese breathe a sigh of relief. But the fact that the achievements of Japanese women in society are rated low despite their high marks for health and longevity underscores serious problems with Japanese society.
In the West, the hollowing-out of the manufacturing sector, which was supported mainly by male workers, took place in the 1980s as manufacturers shifted production to low-wage nations amid globalization.
This trend made it a crucial policy challenge in these countries to tap the abilities of women to nurture service industries.
In particular, improving the environment for women to work outside the home was regarded as the most pressing need. Consequently, efforts were made to increase the numbers of women in places like the corporate sections responsible for decision-making and in Congress.
Read the rest of the story: Japan’s gender gap.