The government will present a new goal on gender equality as early as next week, having abandoned the time frame for its long-stated aim of raising women’s share of leadership roles in the country’s workforce to at least 30 percent by the end of this year, sources said Wednesday.
Under its new basic plan for gender equality, the government will no longer put the target at “2020” but replace it with “as quickly as possible,” as the ratio of female leaders still remains low after the target was first set in 2003.
A panel will discuss the fifth basic plan for gender equality for the next five years, with a Cabinet decision made possibly in December.
Empowering women in society is one of the pillars of the economic growth strategy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.
Last year, however, Japan ranked 121st among 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender-gap rankings, slipping even further from 110th the previous year, and in last place among major advanced economies.
The administration has adopted policies on promoting female empowerment over the years, including obliging companies and government agencies to set related targets for female employment and raising the number of female candidates in elections to achieve parity with their male peers.
Nonetheless, in 2019 women held only 14.8 percent of managerial positions in businesses and the civil service, while the ratio of female lawmakers in the country stood at 9.9 percent in the Lower House and 14.3 percent in local assemblies. Abe’s Cabinet has just two female ministers.
Japan’s proportion of women in managerial roles is extremely low compared to other developed countries. Around 40 percent of those positions are held by women in the United States and in Sweden, while the figure for Britain and France was more than 30 percent, according to International Labor Organization statistics.
The panel had at one point looked into raising the target ratio of women in leadership positions to 50 percent but maintained it at 30 percent, deeming it to be a more realistic target.