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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 1 - 7  > Abe’s ‘women empowerment’ policy does nothing to remove glass ceiling
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2018 August 1 - 7 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
column 

Abe’s ‘women empowerment’ policy does nothing to remove glass ceiling

August 4, 2018

Akahata ‘current’ column

Certainly, there is the robust “glass ceiling” affecting women’s advancement. This is a common figurative expression to describe a situation where women face an invisible barrier in a company or an organization. It is also used for racial and other forms of discrimination.

In the 2018 “glass-ceiling” index which a British magazine published, Japan ranked 28th among the major 29 countries listed. This index is based on a wide range of indicators, including gender inequalities in education and employment as well as within the social environment surrounding childrearing and childbirth. This result illustrates how unfairly women are treated in Japan.

In Japanese society today, women come upon the glass ceiling in various situations. A recent revelation is symbolic of this situation. Tokyo Medical University was found to have manipulated entrance exam scores of all female applicants. In fact, 80% of successful applicants in this school year in the university were male. Reportedly, this score rigging started eight years ago.

It is surprising that the university treats female applicants in a discriminatory way on such a crucial occasion affecting their future career course. Just the other day, the former president of the university was indicted for bribery. He is suspected of letting a high-raking Education Ministry official’s son into the university by the back door in exchange for receiving a special favor from the ministry.

Even more surprisingly, informed sources say that a similar practice can be seen at other universities. It is said that in the background of this matter lies the biased assumption that female doctors tend to quit their jobs when they get married or pregnant. The need is for medical schools to improve working conditions for women so that they will be able to keep working after marriage or childbirth.

Under the Abe government, which claims it is promoting women’s empowerment, Japan keeps sliding down in the gender gap ranking and ranked a record low of 114th of all countries in 2017. Lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party one after another make remarks denying the human rights of sexual minorities. On the other hand, civic movements calling for a society free from discrimination have been growing in influence. This is the demand for social justice that will help to shatter the glass ceiling.

Past related articles:
> LGBT communities protest against LDP lawmaker’s ‘unproductive’ remark [July 25, 2018]
> Sexist LDP lawmaker should apologize or resign: JCP Koike [July 24, 2018]

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