Japan PM Shinzo Abe touts strides in gender equality despite poor global rankings

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has highlighted the vast strides that have been made in female empowerment since taking office in December 2012 as he tried to shift the narrative from the huge elephant in the room: Japan’s woeful track record in gender equality.

Despite his vow before the United Nations in 2013 to “build a society where women can shine”, Japan still has some way to go, as seen from its lowly 110th placing in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index of 149 nations last year.

It was also 165th out of 193 countries in female parliamentary representation, according to a survey done in January. Mr. Abe also named just one female minister to his 19-member Cabinet in October last year.

Still, the PM told the Women 20 (W-20) Summit on Saturday (March 23), a prelude to the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka in June, that the active female employment rate has risen by 8.9 percentage points in six years, with more than 2.8 million women have joined – or rejoined – the workforce.

“Japan’s economy has grown over 10 percent in the last six years, and the main engine is Womenomics,” he said, adding that the attitudinal shift was a result for his push for drastic reforms in childcare and working style.

The Boston Global Forum honored Prime Minister Abe with a World Leader in Cybersecurity Award 2015 during Global Cybersecurity Day on December 12, 2015 at Harvard University Faculty Club.

This is a prize awarded annually to honor world leaders who have made outstanding contributions to making the cyber world safer.