Comparing gender inequality between Uganda and Japan

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I am Maiko Ohnishi, from Japan and i have been working for WOUGNET as a volunteer under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since Feb, 2015. Since I came to Uganda and started to work for WOUGNET, I have been so impressed that men who are working for WOUGNET have a strong motivation towards Gender issue. I was wondering how they came to have such mind since they grew up in this country where strong gender discrimination exists. One of them told me that he came to think that gender equality is very important from his personal experiences such as domestic violence and the other one said his undergraduate major in Gender study motivated him. My boss, Moses who is my superviser in WOUGNET is ALWAYS gentle to me and I have never imagined gender discrimination in this country.

On the other hand, there is still strong gender inequality in Uganda and I was surprised to hear that domestic violence is common and gender discrimination is especially obvious in rural areas. In Northern Uganda, I conducted an assessment on gender issue among women farmers to investigate how gender inequality affects their farming practices. Most women answered that they do not participate a decision making on farming practices, marketing, and expenditure of their income even though they do more tasks during farming work than men.

Some of them said their husbands dominate and control their income, and many women farmers said they are not informed the amount of sales of their produces. Many women insisted that they do not have chance to express their opinion or to share their ideas which discourages women’s motivation and their farming performances too. Thus, I believe giving empowerment for women is a strong key point to develop this country. I really wish the number of Ugandan men like those in WOUGNET increase.

In the case of Japan, I believe we have also different type of gender discrimination. According to the global gender gap index (GGI) 2014, Japan is ranked 104, and Uganda is 88 out of 142 countries. The GGI shows that Japan’s gender gap is worse than Uganda. Japan is developed country, living standard is high, and technology is so much developed. However, gender gaps in economics and politics are really high. The rate of women’s participation in economic participation and political empowerment is really low. For example, female managerial posts at works and the female seats in parliament are really poor.

Japan is an aging society and has an old-fashioned way of thinking that men should work outside while the women should protect the homes. This thought is still dominant especially upper senior generation. Therefore, many Japanese women retire their jobs after marriage since women have a burden to do housework. It does not mean men force the women to do so, but men commonly work over time and do not have time to help in household activities. Another aspect is that it is very difficult for Japanese women to continue their job after giving birth since there are not enough places to care of children and its very expensive to leave their kids in someone’s care. Thus, women retire their jobs on the occasion of their pregnancy

Generally speaking, gender discrimination is one of the biggest obstacles to developing countries which remain in abject poverty. However, considering the case of Japan, this theory seems not always applicable.

Written by,

Maiko Ohnishi, Kampala, Uganda

JICA/WOUGNET Volunteer