Helping Working Women Makes Economic Sense

China Post, January 16, 2017 | Go to article overview

Helping Working Women Makes Economic Sense


While the nose-to-inner-elbow dance move known as "dabbing" surged to popularity in the U.S. lately, the "Koi Dance (Love Dance)" craze has been taking Taiwan by storm. Thanks to a new Japanese drama, the dance has gone viral and is now even being performed at corporate year-end bashes throughout the country.

Besides the infectiously cute dance routine, the Japanese series has also shed light on the drudgery of "housewifery" and the current social and economic situation facing modern working women in Japanese society, much of which overlap with the reality of many Taiwanese.

Japanese drama "We Married as a Job!" is based on a 2012 manga series by Tsunami Umino. The protagonists pretend to be a married couple in front of family and friends, while they are merely bound by a legal agreement where the man provides the female lead a steady income and accommodation to do household chores for him. The story imagines how a version of an egalitarian "contract marriage" may play out in modern-day Japan, where one party is employed and given proper compensation and labor benefits to clean and cook at home.

Important issues underpinning the trending drama also include how domestic work can be undervalued in societies, unpaid domestic work gives our economy a huge boost, it can be hard to make the impact concrete. The show attempted to put a price tag on the "invisible" work at home. The characters estimated the average unpaid working time of a full-time housewife per annum is 2,199 hours (six hours a day, national holidays and weekends included), concluding that they should receive a salary of around 3.014 million Japanese yen per year - the equivalent of nearly NT$60,000 per month.

The World Bank attributes a labor force participation gap to women being caught in a "double burden" syndrome of managing both the home and caring for their children or the elderly.

Japan is notorious for lagging behind in terms of gender equality. Labor force participation among Japanese women is four out of ten, far below Taiwan. Working women in Japan are often employed as contracted workers that can have wages suppressed by as much as 40 percent compared to their full-time colleagues. …

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