Resolution Calling for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment where All Women can be Relieved from Poverty and Work and Live without Gender Disadvantage
The Japanese Constitution prohibits discrimination by gender and guarantees the right to maintain wholesome and cultured living as well as work conditions under which they can work appropriately. In addition, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Japan ratified in 1985, calls on state parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure the right to work as “an inalienable right of all human beings”. However, the achievements of the Japanese government in the field of the legislation and revision of laws aiming to widely achieve the equality of men and women, including laws concerning employment, have been insufficient.
For the past 30 years, even though the number of female workers has rapidly increased, most of such workers are non-regular workers and employees, such as part-time workers, dispatched workers and contract employees (collectively, “non-regular workers”), and only a slight increase in the number of regular workers and employees has been seen. In addition, regardless of whether we are talking about regular or non-regular workers, there is a large disparity in wages between male workers and female workers. Even among those of the same gender, there is a marked difference in wages between regular and non-regular workers. In fact, the annual salary of nearly half of all female workers is less than two million yen, the amount by which they have difficulty to be economically independent and most of such workers are non-regular workers. In actual workplace situations, female non-regular workers, who account for the majority of female workers, face double discrimination based on both their gender and their non-regular worker status. In particular, single women and single mothers of working age are suffering from severe poverty.
One of the reasons for the sharp rise in the number of female non-regular workers is that there is still a deep-seated sense of division of roles by gender, wherein “men work outside the house, and women work in the house,” and this view still carries a strong influence in the current society. In reality, there are a large number of women who do shoulder the burden of domestic work, such as housework, raising children and nursing care. For this reason, it has been difficult for women to work as regular workers because regular workers are naturally expected to work overtime. Thus, a number of women have been left with no choice but to resign from their jobs when certain occasions arise, such as getting married, having a baby, raising children and nursing care, etc. Then, when subsequently trying to secure new employment after such occasion, it is likely that they will have to work in unstable positions as non-regular workers on low wages.
The current tax and social security system is set up based on a household consisting of a husband, as the breadwinner, with his wife and children (the “standard model household”). As a result, however, such system leads to the inhibition of employment for women who belong to such standard model household. Moreover, in such system, the precondition in which men are regarded as the main breadwinner is likely to immobilize the division of roles by gender, as well as to accelerate the poverty facing single women and single mother families.
In order to overcome the disparity and poverty that women have been facing, it is necessary to realize the following: (i) receiving equal treatment without unreasonable disparity because of the difference in their respective employment patterns, etc.; (ii) working by both men and women in a more stable environment while continuously balancing work and family responsibility, including housework, raising children and nursing care; (iii) eliminating gender-based discrimination; and (iv) eliminating the division of roles by gender and the disadvantages caused by such division. In particular, the JFBA calls for the implementation of a variety of measures, such as those set forth below:
1. In order for all women to be able to earn sufficient income to live an adequate and full life, and to receive equal treatment with men, the national government and local governments should comply with the Convention Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value and Article 11-1 (d) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as Article 7 (a) (i) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
2. In order to enhance an environment in which all women can maintain a good balance between work and family responsibility and work steadily, the national government should comply with the ILO Convention Concerning the Principle of Equal Remuneration for Workers for Work of Equal Value and the Recommendation Concerning Equal Opportunities and Equal Treatment for Men and Women Workers: Workers with Family Responsibilities.
3. In order to rectify unreasonable disparity and to effectively give relief to workers who have been subjected to disadvantages caused by violations of the Act on Securing Equal Opportunity and Treatment of Men and Women in Employment, the government should:
(1) Clearly stipulate the following matters in the laws, including the Act on Securing Equal Opportunity and Treatment of Men and Women in Employment: (i) presumptive rules in relation to the existence of gender discrimination; (ii) legal consequences in the case of violation of laws; and (iii) relief measures which the courts are able to mandate; and
(2) Newly set up an independent administrative committee as a relief system, as well as strengthen sanctions by imposing fines or penalties for violations of correction orders issued by the administrative committee.
4. In order to resolve the division of roles by gender and the disadvantages caused by such division, the national government and local governments should bring the concept stipulated in the Basic Act for Gender Equal Society into realization and should:
(1) (i) Review the design of the tax and social security systems in which the provision of unpaid work by women is presupposed and in which the standard model is set as a household consisting of a husband, as the breadwinner, with his wife and children, and (ii) Change the various systems by taking into account the wide variety of familial situations, in order to strengthen the function of income redistribution; and
(2) Improve the education system regarding gender equality across various fields, such as in schools, workplaces, families and communities in order to resolve the division of roles by gender, and support the implementation of such improvements.
5. The government should mandate by law that the national government, local governments and business owners are required to implement affirmative action programs in order to rectify the consequences of the gender discrimination which has been conducted to date, and further legislate specific provisions to ensure the workability thereof.
The JFBA hereby declares that we will strive to make every effort to bring about the realization of the various issues stated above, which should enable all women to (i) be freed from poverty; (ii) work without suffering from disadvantages because of gender; and (iii) enjoy work conditions and environments in which a wholesome, cultural and enriched living will be possible.
October 2, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations