Friday, 22 March 2013

Slow, or calculated?

I hope this one generates discussion.

This story appears on the BBC News website today, looking at the problems faced by women in Japan when faced with the choice of a career or a family. 

One speaks about spiralling childcare costs of over $2000 (£1,318) a month per child at private nurseries, and the crisis of oversubscribed state nurseries, where thousands sit on waiting lists- and pay $1000 a month for the privilege anyway.

It's interesting that Japan's female employment rate is just 60%. 70% of Japanese women give up work after giving birth to their first child. The employment rate is way below that of countries such as Norway at 75%, the US at 66%, and Germany at 64%. (The UK situation is an interesting story and topic for debate in itself, with the economic downturn impacting hugely on women.)

Back in Japan, the percentage of working mothers is just 34%. This doesn't compare favourably with 76% in Sweden, 61% in the US, 55% in the UK, and 53% in Germany.

There's a whole shedload of issues around the rights and wrongs of women returning to work after having a child, depending on your viewpoint- and which century you live in, of course. But is the situation in Japan purely a product of slower cultural change, or has there been an active strategy to make it harder for women to resume their careers once a baby is in the frame?

What do you think?

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