Japan remains near bottom of gender gap ranking

Kyodo, JIJI, Bloomberg

Japan has one of the worst levels of gender equality in the developed world, below that of Tajikistan and Indonesia, coming in 104th out of 142 assessed countries in 2014, according to a study released Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.

It rose one notch from 105th in 2013, the WEF said, citing slight improvement in areas such as women’s pay. It noted, however, the percentage of female lawmakers remains one of the worst of any nation.

The gender gap report by the Swiss organization was compiled based on data earlier this year and therefore did not take into account Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointment in September of five female ministers.

The WEF said economic equality between men and women will not be achieved globally for another eight decades.

The report says women’s achievements and opportunities in the workplace are 60 percent those of men, up from 56 percent in the first such report in 2006. On this basis, parity will be achieved only in 81 years.

“Much work still remains to be done,” said Saadia Zahidi, head of the WEF’s gender-parity program and lead author of the report. “The pace of change must in some areas be accelerated.”

“Achieving gender equality is obviously necessary for economic reasons,” said Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman. “But even more important, gender equality is a matter of justice.”

The report analyzes women’s status in the economy, education, politics and health.

Iceland topped the list for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Finland and Norway, also unchanged from the previous year.

The United States ranked 20th, China 87th and South Korea 117th.

Japan ranked 37th in the health and longevity category, 93rd in educational attainment, and 102nd in economic participation and opportunity.

  • Earl Kinmonth

    I wonder if Rwanda is open to Japanese immigrants? It’s number seven in the rankings, way above Japan to say nothing of the US and the UK. And, then there’s Nicaragua at number six. Even better. Were I a woman, I’d be packing my bags for either Rwanda or Nicaragua after reading this unquestionably authoritative and completely believable ranking by the the World Economic Forum, the outfit that arranges the annual Davos conference for the movers and shakers of the world. Rwanda and Nicaragua are really great places, right?

    • rossdorn

      Why do so many people have opinions about everything, while not being able to understand anything of the subjects, they have opinions about?

      The miracle of equality….

      • Oliver Mackie

        The same reason some people haven’t mastered the correct use of commas, perhaps….

  • Oliver Mackie

    How on earth can Japan, where it is widely acknowledged women have the greatest longevity in the world (not to mention one of the very lowest rates of death in childbirth) then come in 37th in the health and longevity for women category!? As the previous post has noted, the fact that Rwanda came in 7th overall shows what nonsense this report must be. No point in saying that equality between A and B is more important than the absolute levels of what is being measured (we’re both almost starving or likely to be massacred, but at least we’re both equally so.)

    • rossdorn

      Try going back to school…..

      • Oliver Mackie

        How about you enlighten me? Just a couple of lines actually commenting on the on the topic will suffice…..

      • itoshima2012

        you’re making a good point. The way you approached it is interesting. never mind the typical Japan basher on the JT. I think you certainly do have a point. It’s a bit like the PISA nonsense on schools ecc. Things are not to good for women in Japan, I have a daughter, and a lot needs to improve, but the ranking is just total crap

      • Jamie Bakeridge

        I am one of those usual JT Japan bashers but even I have to agree that whilst there are improvements to be made in the lot of women in Japan, this report is complete and utter nonsense. Quite why the JT does not point this out and ridicule such reports is beyond me.

    • GIJ

      Clearly certain data points were weighted in an odd way to produce this outcome. Japanese women are among the longest-living people on Earth, enjoying a quality of life and standard of living that is essentially out of reach for a good portion of the world’s other women and also a lot of men for that matter. I’m not saying Japanese women have nothing to complain about, but I’m sure nobody is more mystified than they are by the persistent impression among many outsiders that women in Japan endure some kind of deep, dark patriarchal oppression on a daily basis.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “Clearly certain data points were weighted in an odd way..”
        Well, you put it more kindly than I am inclined to do, especially given how many millions of taxpayer dollars/euros/yen etc this must have cost….

      • Oliver Mackie

        And looking at the WHO female longevity statistics for 2014, Japan comes in 2nd, after Andorra, with Rwanda coming in at 162nd. They must have used one hell of a lot of weight…

    • ilovemybrick

      From what I understand, the people who compile this report deliberately exclude the economic prosperity of each country and focus purely on the percentage of women in positions of power- the idea is to give a fair shot to nations that may be poorer than countries like Japan but that may have more equal representation in general.

      • Oliver Mackie

        I’m sure the high ranking their country attained in this report is of great consolation to them as they die 20 years earlier than necessary.

  • pchild57

    Japan has a man/woman problem in so many areas. Too many rules, no touching, no freedom to explore relationships. Prostitutes and host boys, ugh! How can either expect to grow if they keep up these ancient rules of what is acceptable and what is not.

    • Oliver Mackie

      Absolute rubbish.

  • Buck

    This study used in this report has several key problems. First, the indictors it uses do not capture the full picture of gender equality. For example, under health and survival the study only looks at two indicators; sex ratio at birth and life expectancy. Rwanda (a popular example) scores much lower on life expectancy, but scored the highest
    on sex ration at birth. Thus giving the appearance of reasonable score. However, the study does not include the infant mortality rate, which is an extremely important figure when looking at the health of country and gender equality. Thus both men and women are born in equal numbers, but how many girls die before their first birthday? The study also does not look at the maternal mortality rate, again an extremely important figure in
    terms of female health, although it might not be able to reveal much in terms of gender equality (given that men don`t die during child birth). Though, it does reveal how women are treated during pregnancy and to a lesser degree how female health is valued in a country.

    Second, as others have pointed out, the indictors used do not appear to be weighed in a meaningful manner. For example, having a past female head of state in last 50 years appears to be a major factor in gender equality according to the study. Yet, how much can the raw data of
    having a female head of state or not really tell us about gender equality?
    This indicator doesn`t inform us how these heads of state came to power. Many female head of state in several of the countries ranked above Japan inherited the position from their fathers, telling us more about nepotism than gender equality.

    Third and much like the first, there are several whole categories not included, such as crime rate or violence. Do men and women have the same level of personal security? Are women being subjected to sexual violence more often than men in one country compared to another? The entire category is ignored. What about laws and regulations. How are women treated differently than men under the law?

    Finally as hinted at above, these indicators are based solely on the gender gap, and fail to reveal the quality of said inequality. For example, the study tells us female economic participation in Rwanda is about equal between men and women, but it doesn`t tells us what life is like in the work environment. Female workforce participation may be lower in Japan, but health and safety for those who do work is certainly higher. Moreover, many women in Japan can afford the luxury to stay at home, while most women in the developing world cannot. Low female workforce participation can reveal men’s unequal position in society and not necessarily always just women’s. Additionally, in education attainment, one country might have a higher ratio of education attainment, but the quality of education could be extremely poor. Nevertheless, even assuming none of this mattered, and only using the study at face value, I am unsure how they calucated the rankings. Japan scored higher in 2
    out of the 4 main categories compared to Rwanda yet received a much lower ranking. A little confusing.