Current Necessity of Special Supporting Policies for Women in Japanese Society

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This is actually part of my English class discussion topic material. But, I think I want to know more from others’ opinion.

Recently, the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) established a new policy that lets few selected female student get a monthly ¥30,000 money limited for housing payment usage. This policy is basically aimed to provide wider range of housing options that is relatively more secure and facilitated female-only housing affiliated to UTokyo. However, there has been sparked debates in regards to this issue, questioning whether this policy will have an impact on the current UTokyo’s male-female ratio (which is sadly around 82-18%).

On the other hand, this kind of particular female-only or women-only targeted policies is actually not a new thing to Japanese society. On some major commuting track, one can easily spot the women-only carriage which operates during morning rush hour to provide women with concrete safety against unwanted inappropriate behaviors such as groping.

I guess, one will easily slip into questioning, whether this sort of special treatment not more than systematic reverse discriminating regulations towards women and should be abolished? Through this post, I would like to argue that current Japanese society really needs the special supporting policies for women. In fact, these measurements will further facilitate women to emancipate themselves.


According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016, a research conducted to find countries’ gender gap across economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment, Japan ranks 111th among 144 countries [1]. This result tells us that Japan’s gender gap society has not changed much since in the same report by WEF in 2006, Japan ranked 79th among 115th countries [2]. Furthermore, this gap has also been deemed so damaging to Japan’s economy and demographics since it signifies Japan’s gender-gap-induced loss of potential talents and workforce on various sector [3,4].

On last decade, Japanese society has been more open-minded to address gender inequality as a problem to solve by exercising feminist policies aimed at equal rights for woman and others structural support. However, some regulations is considered by some to be too “special”, dubious to a reverse discrimination against women. Such policies include special woman-only carriage and special monthly financial support for female college students’ rent. In this writing, I would argue that this special treatment is necessary through several arguments.

First, these treatments are the most effective way on raising awareness to address not only women issues, but gender equality as well. As noted above, the Japanese society has not changed much on last decade. If this harmful trend continues, the currently restrained, if not oppressed, women will be more neglected and marginalized because of the apathetic attitude of the society. This means we do really need to raise society’s consciousness on women issues since immediately through several policies on the right time-frame and conditions. The right policies will certainly spark social discussion and awareness that there are more things to facilitate equal opportunity for women and men.

In addition to its role in battling the unaware group, the right special treatments assist women by providing the necessary condition they need. We must realize that equality on women and men will not be feasible even if all legal boundaries has been made equal. We cannot deny that social (and cultural) values plays a major role on society (which is why they have the same root word). To make the equality be attainable, we still need to facilitate women with the necessary conditions (e.g. special carriage to protect them, monthly support for them to rent a safer housing). Remember that our patriarchal society has advantages man for ages with privileges so that not only do we need to remove these men’s privileges (which is still far from success), but also give women special privileges too by right policies. Furthermore, this of course, a form of unfair treatment, but these measures are necessary to ultimately achieve equality within our current society.

Besides providing the necessary conditions for women, these measures can initiate more crucial gender-targeted regulations. For instance, despite many companies have done making legal reform to allow woman and man have same standings on workplace, the gender gap on salary, leadership ladder access, even job opportunity still does not change much [5]. This implies that current hard intervention adaptation (legal reforms) is still insufficient and we need more soft intervention such as mentoring, training, etc. to let more women have same opportunity on workplace. Discouraging these women-targeted measures will only pose harm to many needed regulation reforms and the emancipation progress itself.

In conclusion, the women-targeted measures are beneficial since it raises society’s awareness to women and gender equality issues, constructs the necessary condition for immediate change, and starts other regulation reform. Our society, which was (or tend to be, still is) patriarchal society, has been privileging men for assorted things starts from access to education or occupations. I believe it is not enough for this current moment to just eradicate those men-leaning regulation by policy-making. We still need a sort of reverse-privilege policies to women to catalyze the gender equality in our society.

It is also worth to note that these special measures are meant to be temporary and not long-term. In fact, education about gender equality, raising awareness, and such kind of soft interventions could also be a grass-root movement to bridge us and a better society, eliminate the subconscious bias, and change the very social values of society. I know that we also have to put some standards on this women-only targeted policies (e.g. making special parking lot for women might sound nonsense) and some bad policies may have been established. On this case, it would be very wise for us not to blame on this big picture of accelerating women’s emancipation, but reviewing the policy making process and improve it, or if necessary, reform it. I realize that this might not be rightest thing to do to some considerations, but I believe on difficult times, we should make difficult choices. Sometimes, those choices are not the rightest, but the best justified way to achieve good things for the greater good.

References

[1] World Economic Forum. 2016. Global Gender Gap Report 2016.

[2] World Economic Forum. 2006. Global Gender Gap Report 2006.

[3] McKinsey & Company. 2015. Why Diversity Matters?

[4] Goldman-Sachs. 2014. Japan: Time for Womenomics 4.0.

[5] World Economic Forum. 2014. Closing the Gender Gap in Japan.

P.S. I am so open to any discussion and opinion about this issue. I would also like to compare this issue to current Indonesia sometime.

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