What is a Gender-Equal Society?

A "gender-equal society" is a "society in which both men and women, as equal members, have the opportunity to participate in all kinds of social activities at will, equally enjoy political, economical and cultural benefits, and share responsibilities." In such a society, the human rights of men and women are equally respected. Women who desire an active role in society may participate in activities of their own choosing, while men could enjoy a fulfilling home and community life. A gender-equal society is a society built by men and women as equal partners.

The realization of a truly affluent society is dependent on the establishment of a social framework that allows individuals to choose various lifestyles regardless of their gender, and without being bound by such rigid, stereotyped gender roles that assume that child rearing and nursing are exclusively women's duties, while men are the workers, tax-payers and pension renderers who support the nation. In reality, however, although gender equality has more or less been achieved in Japan as far as laws and legislations are concerned, women's participation in the policy- and decision-making processes remains insufficient, and women still have few opportunities to realize their full potential. The traditional tendency to view men's participation in housework and child-rearing as unmanly and the heavy burden of housework, child care and nursing that is still placed on women testify to the fact that Japan is lagging behind other countries in terms of gender equality.

We, each and every one of us, need to rethink our prejudiced notions of gender-based roles, so that we may realize a society where men and women can participate together in politics, at the workplace and at home, and lead exciting and fulfilling lives.