Minister’s Message on International Women’s Day 2022

Minister’s Message on International Women’s Day 2022

Hello, everyone. My name is NODA Seiko, and I am the Minister of State for Gender Equality. Today, March 8, was established as International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975.

The pandemic of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the lives of people, especially women, all around the world. In Japan, the number of women employed has declined greatly, and women find themselves placed in extremely difficult situations in terms of employment and living conditions. The number of domestic violence consultations has also increased, as has the number of women who committed suicide.

In this way, the pandemic of COVID-19 highlighted once again how Japan lags far behind on gender equality. It also made us strongly aware of its importance. There has never been a time when achieving gender equality is sought after as much as today.

Gender equality is the important and solid policy for the Government of Japan. In the latest Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum, Japan is ranked 120th out of 156 countries, which is the lowest among developed countries, especially with low scores in the political and economic fields. In addition, a public opinion poll shows that only 21% of respondents answered “equal” to the question whether men and women are equal in Japanese society as a whole. As other nations continue running toward gender equality, Japan must also advance its efforts at an unprecedented speed. Over the past few decades, the environment surrounding women has rapidly changed. As Japan approaches the era of the 100-year life, half of Japanese women live to be 90 years old.The number of divorces has reached one-third the number of marriages. The traditional family image where the man works and the woman takes care of the home is already no longer the norm, and women’s lives and the structure of families have diversified. A rapid response is necessary, while keeping in mind such changes in society. We must create a society where both women and men participate in the decision-making process in all fields including politics, economics, and society, and where diversity is embraced and many people feel that this society is equal.

In order to steadily implement the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality with these perspectives, Japan is examining concrete policies based on four pillars to compile the Basic Policies Related to Women. . The first pillar is “women’s empowerment.” This requires revision of the corporate disclosure rules to fix the gender pay gap. The second is “the realization of a society in which women live with dignity and pride.” Eliminating violence against women is an urgent task, and Japan is fundamentally strengthening the measures to respond to spousal violence. Japan is also addressing women’s health by promoting femtech. The third pillar is “men’s engagement in families and communities.” Expanding the areas for men’s participation in families and communities so that men do not fall into unwanted isolation and have social connections is important for reducing the present burden of women. The fourth is “achieving the goals for the appointment of women.” This means the steady achievement of the goals related to appointment and employment of women, which was set forth in the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality decided at the end of 2020. The whole Government of Japan will do its utmost toward realizing these goals.

In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt respect and gratitude to all of you who are making every effort for gender equality even amid these unprecedented difficulties. With the steadfast determination to leave behind no woman facing difficulties due to the impact of the pandemic of COVID-19, as the Minister of State for Gender Equality, I again pledge on this International Women’s Day that the entire Government of Japan will work toward achieving gender equality.

March 8, 2022
Minister in Charge of Women’s Empowerment; Minister of State for Gender Equality
NODA Seiko