A Step Forward towards Supporting Working Women – A Perspective across Workplaces in Japan
While men have long been referred to as the breadwinners of the family, women were often considered as home makers. However, the last few decades have seen a transition in these roles, with an increase in the number of women now pursuing full-time employment. Given the abundance of male-centered workplaces and longer working hours in Japan than in western countries, whether workplace conditions and legal policies support and nurture the employment of women, remain a matter of debate.
The Japan Society for Occupational Health has now addressed issues faced by working women and proposed policies concerning their occupational safety and health in a new Environmental and Occupational Health Practice issue. In the last fifteen years, there has been a significant increase in the number of women in regular and part-time employment. It is therefore imperative that work-related policies must focus on unique aspects concerning women, such as the need for maternity and parental leave, limitations on working hours for pregnant women, medical and healthcare incentives and consideration of physical strength and endurance compared to men, in relevant tasks.
Activities that may impact the health of women, particularly those who are pregnant, such as long periods of standing, irregular work schedules and night shifts, and exposure to chemical hazards, are also important areas of concern that must be addressed. These employment factors may trigger musculoskeletal disorders and fatigue, while also significantly affecting the mental health and work-life balance of women as they juggle domestic responsibilities along with professional work. As a large proportion of employees in irregular and part-time jobs are women, competent and fair wages along with job security must be ensured to encourage them to pursue such opportunities. In addition, safety at the workplace and stringent policies against harassment can go a long way in boosting the confidence of female employees and making their work environment conducive for their personal and professional growth.
With the declining trend in the population of Japan, encouraging women to take up professional careers can ensure the socio-economic development of the nation. For this, experts propose that appropriate measures must be implemented at the company as well as the government level through collaborative efforts.
Link to the original journal article:
Supporting the health of working women in Japan: summary report in English
Japan Society for Occupational Health Policy and Legislation Committee
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