In recent years, Japan has championed its growing number of working women as an answer to the country’s shrinking population and lackluster economy. But rather than feeling empowered, many are harboring a growing sense of inequity.

"I don’t think we’re being paid fairly,” said Sakiko Takasawa. As a care worker for the elderly, she’s part of a predominantly female industry paid far less than the national average. "There’s still such deep-rooted gender inequality,” added the 35-year-old, who was drawn to the profession during university as she watched her grandmother struggle with dementia.

While it’s globally common for salaries in female-dominated professions such as nursing to be lower than in mostly male industries, Japan’s gender pay gap, which measures the difference in wages between the sexes, is the highest among the Group of Seven rich nations.