The World Economic Forum has announced the launch of a task force to close Japan’s economic gender gaps by 10 percent by 2015.

The Japan Gender Parity Task Force, comprised of government officials, business and academic leaders and prominent members of society, held its inaugural meeting Thursday in Tokyo. Participants included representatives from Takeda Pharmacetical Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Berlitz Corp., as well as politicians, including national policy minister Seiji Maehara and former state minister for gender equality Kuniko Inoguchi.

The task force will work with government agencies and private businesses to address the challenges of gender-based economic disparities in the next three years through a data-driven and systemic approach, and by sharing successful examples and measures to help narrow the current gaps. It will also enable collaborative interaction among private and government organizations, the forum said.

This year, the Geneva-based nonprofit foundation, best known for the Davos conferences it holds in Switzerland every winter, selected Mexico, Turkey and Japan as pilot nations to demonstrate country-level success on narrowing economic gender disparities. The launch of its task force in Japan follows the establishment of equivalent entities in Mexico and Turkey.

“Women make up one-half of the potential human capital available in any economy and they are increasingly equally — or more (highly) — educated than men in many developed and emerging economies,” said Saadia Zahidi, who as the forum’s director and head of constituents is responsible for engaging female leaders and gender parity groups. “Maximizing access to female talent should therefore be regarded as a strategic imperative for businesses.”

The Global Gender Gap Report ranks countries according to the magnitude of economic disparities among men and women in four key areas: economic participation and opportunities, for instance in terms of salaries, job types and seniority; access to education; political engagement; and health and survival, such as life expectancy rates.

Nordic nations were the highest-ranked among the 135 countries examined this year, with Iceland taking the top spot, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.

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