Every year, more attention is given to gender equality. Gender equality is an issue that can affect every person of either sex, in the world. Any individual can be targeted as being discriminated against and abused with less opportunities and rights. Sustainable Development Goal 5 indicates Gender Equality, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. It is an issue that must be realized because it is indispensable in achievement of sustainable development. Gender equality is reflected in 45 targets and 54 gender-specific indicators of the SDGs. Therefor achieving these targets and closing the gender gap will create a multiplier effect across all of the SDGs and accelerate their achievements. The progress of goal 5 in 2019, in the section of 5.5, is reported as “Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leaderships. As at 1 January 2019, women’s representation in national Parliaments ranged from 0 to 61.3 per cent, with the average standing at 24.2 percent, an increase from 19 per cent in 2010. At the local level, data from 99 countries and areas show that women’s representation in elected deliberative bodies varies from less than 1 per cent to 48 per cent, with the median of the distribution at 26 per cent. When legislated gender quotas are adopted, signify higher proportions of women are elected at both national and local levels.” Regardless of being one of the developed countries, Japan is one of the countries to have ‘women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leaderships.’Japan is falling far behind in gender equality. The global gender gap report of 2018 shows that japan is only 117th in economic participation and opportunity, 125th in political empowerment, out of the statistics of 149 countries searched. (table.3) Japan’s level of women’s representation not only lags behind other advanced countries but even from the developing countries. Realizing gender equality and empowerment of women in Japan, is only to bring beneficial and positive effects into Japanese economics and politics. In order to achieve a gender equal society, and a better working environment for women, there are many issues to be covered. This paper will mainly be focused and argued on the issues regarding the parental leave system of Japan in relation to gender equality. The obstacles and the cause of the gender inequality in Japan is the lack of institutional structure and the social stigma, stereotypes and discrimination. The female workers are being paid less than the male workers within the same institution, despite the same work. What is more, the females are looked down on, because they are considered to stop working and not to come back to work, after either marriage or pregnancy. It is socially expected, and the authorities are to consider the situation as to less beneficial to educate the newly hired, thus leading to the differences of ratio in hiring and promotion of the employees between the two genders. Which is on the complete contrary of what the goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goal states. The target 5.5 is to “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” And the indicators of 5.5 are written as “1. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments and local governments.” “2. Proportion of women in managerial positions.” As mentioned previously, the political empowerment of women in Japan is ranked as one of the lowest in the world. Furthermore, the issues are in no luck to be solved, as Japan lacks in secure system of childcare. Few problems can be addressed from this perspective. First, due to the lack of childcare facilities, in most cases, the mothers, are forced to stay at home instead of going out to work. The increase of nuclear family is one of the causes for it. The second aspect is the decrease in the number of childcare workers. Even if the parents manage to have their child enter the nursery school, especially while the child is at a young age, it is often that the parents are to be called to pick them up due to sickness, which is not going to be perceived well at workplace. All the undesired and negative consequences of giving birth to a new born, in the view of working and its environment, is one of the pull factors in which makes the workers not wanting to have any changed with their carrier. Japan is currently facing a major concern of the aging society. The government wishes to achieve in the increase of the birth rate, but if the current condition of the difficulty of the parental leave is to continue, the desire of resolving the increase in birth rate is never to be met. To overcome the issue, reconstructing the concept of gender is in urgent need. However, that is to take time and most likely to be unsuccessful, as to bring about a completely new and opposite concept of gender to the Japanese society would be a hardship, as the distance of the two genders have been far apart for the whole history of Japan. The necessary method to take is to reinforce the legality of the related topics. Or maybe in some cases for the law to force the parental leave for a certain period of time, that is, longer than what the current system offers, rather than to be giving the option for the workers. In such case, the company will not be able to treat badly of those who do so. The current social welfare system of Japan, the receiving of salary during the leave, is not in the best condition. An alternative target to be achieved is to focus on the equality of the male workforce. In order to make a better working environment for the female workers in Japan, we must not neglect on the working conditions of the male workers. Japan having an extreme sexist view on femininity, in other words, it also indicates Japan of having a discriminatory and unequal idea of masculinity. The toxic masculinity is putting social pressure and stigma on the male workers. In example, as the female receive less for their payment than the men do, the financial pressure are put on men in the family. Especially, when the female are taking maternity leave from work, men are to become the relying source of income. In order to ease the pressure for those, the simple solution is to embrace the female workforce. In that way, the responsibilities become more balanced, with less discrimination for either side. An issue, which has been in further rise, recently, is the difficulty of the paternity leave for the fathers. Even though if the fathers are willing to be supportive of the mothers, of their mother hood and their work life, it is difficult for the fathers to take paternity leave. That is not only for the unstable legal aspect of it, but also for the social stigma. Paternity harassment is a newly recognized word. The word can be used at times for example when fathers who come back to work, from their short term leave, are to face the un-discussed ‘consequence’ that the co-workers have decided, such as demotion. Which is all caused due to the social stigma of the masculine figure not being allowed to participate in any feminine acts. If the male are to be socially accepted to take paternity leave, and not to have pressure on being the daikoku-bashira (central pillar) of the family, more opportunities are also to be equally shared to the female. When the male are to take paternity leave, not only does it provide a new perspective for the male role in the Japanese society, and make it easier for males to not to be constantly conscious of their masculinity, but it also provides the chance for the females to go back to the workforce. Which consequently means the decline of the female workforce due to pregnancy is to ease, and increase in the female empowering within the working environment.All the changes in these circumstances can bring about positive influences to the Sustainable Development Goals number 8 ‘Decent work and economic growth’ and 10 ‘reduced inequalities’. In example, target 8.3 states as to ‘Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services’. Further more, target 10.3 ‘Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard ’, is most likely to be achieved if the goal 5 is to end in success. The correlation between these goals and targets prove the importance of each single statement, and the power in which each possess. We have to take notice of the importance of each and every goal, and to move forward with all countries taking action.
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