Even though Japan made a splash in the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly because of their pledge towards woman empowerment, it seems that the reality is still far from ideal. In the latest Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, Japan is ranked 105 out of 136 countries, its worst ranking since the survey started in 2006.
The study is based on an analysis of the status of women in the 136 countries included, in terms of finances, education, politics and health. This year’s result for Japan is four ranks lower than last year’s 101st placing and the main reason probably was a decrease in the number of women in politics since the last election. There are only 77 women in both houses of the Diet, out of 722 positions available. Japan’s ranking in politics was at a very lowly 118. However, Japan did score well in other categories like literacy and secondary education enrollment. A bit of good news also is that the country’s ranking in wage equality between the two genders improved 10 places to 87th. Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a speech at the UN General Assembly, talking about his administration’s plans to improve gender equality in Japan. Part of this strategy is to increase by 30% the percentage of women in leadership positions by the year 2020, both in politics and in the corporate world.
For the fifth straight year, Iceland was number one, with Finland, Norway and Sweden close behind. The United Kingdom remained at 18 while the United States dropped one spot to number 23. In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines was number one and fifth over-all. As for Japan’s neighbours in East Asia, China was 69th and South Korea was even lower at 111. The three lowest countries in the list were Chad at 134th, Pakistan at 135th and Yemen at 136th. Over-all, the WEF said that the gender gap narrowed ever so slightly this year.