This Japanese Campaign for Women’s Empowerment Features Only Men
As part of the two-year-old initiative dubbed “Womenomics,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has laid out a series of lofty targets aimed at boosting the number of women working in senior business positions by 2020. An online campaign recently launched by the local government of Kanagawa—a prefecture about 26 miles south of Tokyo—aims to support those goals. But critics say its questionable choice of imagery misses the point entirely.
Where are the women?? 11 men and a pink banner encourage women to become more active in Japanese society. https://t.co/H8wmQqcL5u— Alexandra Hambleton (@AlexHambleton) January 19, 2016
They seem to support the social progress of women. It reads "Women're gettin be the leading roles" Notice anything? https://t.co/8WqiBRQwjI— Kazuo Uozumi (@forthman) January 22, 2016
Patriarchal society at its best! In order to activate women Kanagawa pref. teams up a group of men to enable that. https://t.co/ZFmDTS8XrJ— Ingrid Houtkooper (@IngridiH) January 19, 2016
The country’s big push for gender equality has gotten off to a rocky start. While the central government met its goal of hiring women for at least 30 percent of its career-track roles, other targets have had to be adjusted because they were too ambitious. Last month, for example, Japan drastically reduced its goal to recruit women for 30 percent of all management roles; now that goal is 15 percent for local government and private companies and 7 percent for national public servants, according to Japan Times. The country’s labor ministry even offered financial incentives to small companies that placed women in senior positions, but after a year and a half, the subsidy program failed to attract a single applicant.
Japan isn’t the only country that recently organized an all-male panel for the purpose of promoting women in business. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, four men in suits convened to discuss women’s equality during a panel called “When Women Thrive.” The only woman onstage was the moderator, as BuzzFeed pointed out on Friday. Images of men-only panels have been archived on the popular Tumblr blog All Male Panels, which was launched a year ago as a means of critiquing women’s exclusion from areas including business, politics, and academia. The blog has amassed hundreds of posts from conferences, seminars, and hearings around the world.