Women at work in a patriarchal country

That the job market is challenging for women is nothing new! But what is different about this in Japan since it is a country that reserves its patriotic roots?

Japan is known for being a technological, well-developed and extremely educated country, so it ends up being a highly sought after job-seeking destination. 

But is it worth it for a foreign woman to go to Japan in search of a job? Let's find out these details throughout this text!

Women at work in a patriarchal country - image
Women at work in a patriarchal country

History of work in Japan

For those who dream of living in Japan, one of the first concerns is that they will work to ensure their livelihood! Being a man or a woman, this factor becomes decisive when making this decision. 

In Japan, since the beginning of the development of its own culture, it worked as follows: the woman is responsible for the family and the man is in charge of providing for the family members.

The first record of work in Japan takes place in the Yayoi period (弥生時代) which spans from 1000 BC to 300 AD Because it was during this time that there was a large cultivation of rice and workers were needed for this.

In the Nara era (奈良時代) it became mandatory to provide services in civil and military works. 

Also during this period, farmers had to pay taxes for royalty in the form of rice and specific products from each region.

Women at work in a patriarchal country - image 1
Women at work in a patriarchal country

Women in the labor market

In feudal Japan, it was common for women to give up work to dedicate themselves to the life of a housewife not only because of the sense of having to do so, but nothing contributed to their being able to leave the house and work. 

There was nowhere or with whom to leave the children or the elderly (they had families who still took care of sick parents), not to mention the moral and sexual harassment they were subject to in the workplace.

But housework is valued in Japan. Women are responsible for all domestic matters including finances. 

It is customary for women to receive even a different education than men receive for managing the home. 

And when it happened that women entered the labor market, inequality was evident in the fact that they sometimes performed the same function as another man, but the salary was lower. This happened mainly in political offices.

Women began to appear in the labor market in the Meiji period, as the feudal system ended at that time and restored the power of the imperial monarchy. 

After this happened Japanese women were exploited by Japanese military.

In the year 1900, the participation of women in companies was notorious, which served as a contribution to economic development in Japan. 

In that decade, around 250,000 women worked in the textile and auto parts industries. This number represented at least 63% of the industrial workforce. 

Despite the large number of active women at work, unfortunately the working conditions experienced were not good and salaries did not correspond to the service performed.

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Women at work in a patriarchal country

Changes that workers made in Japan

It is important to point out that even the women having started work, their role in relation to the family has not changed. They just went on a double journey. In other words, sharing life between a worker and a housewife.

Reconciling family and work has even interfered with birth control in Japan. This rate has been around 1.3 to 1.4 children per woman since 1995.

As the birth rate is lower, the rate of elderly people has increased and these people, when they get older, end up needing care. and women who also take care of the elderly too.

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Women at work in a patriarchal country

Labor standards for women

As women were at a disadvantage in relation to men at work, the Labor Standards Law was the first to physiologically differentiate men and women.

But according to the understanding of the time, treating workers of different sexes equally would not be the ideal to do because women cannot do night services, dangerous work and maternity and menstrual leave.

Even with women already in the labor market, getting the job was challenging because there was resistance from employers to hire them.

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Women at work in a patriarchal country

In 1997, a legislative reform was carried out that abolished these restrictions in relation to women so that they could have the same chance of being hired as a man, but without leaving them vulnerable in case of harassment, for example.

But maternity protections were increased to provide greater security for women and this was reflected in the rising birth rate.

This change generated many jobs and as soon as women had children they were able to return to their jobs.

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Women at work in a patriarchal country

Women in leadership today 

Currently, not just in Japan, but in the world as a whole, gender inequality still exists. Participation in women who exercise before exclusive to men is still shy in Japan.

The difference is still striking in cases of leadership positions that are mostly men occupy. 

A survey carried out in 2018 by the Reuters Corporate Survey indicates that only 10% of Japanese companies reported having women in 10% of management positions.

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Women at work in a patriarchal country

And yet data showed that 75% of companies said they had less than 10% of women in management while 15% reported having no women.

Given these data, there is still good news! The increase in women aged over thirty has increased in recent years. 

This is due to the changes that the law has undergone, which makes women's working hours more flexible, permits to dedicate themselves to family members and offers of vacancies and crèches. 

And you, what do you think the law needs to improve to enable a greater percentage of women in leadership roles in Japan and around the world?

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