Comparing women friendly work environment in Japan and Uganda

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It is beautiful environment that our female financial officer in WOUGNET who had a maternity leave came back to the office with her baby. She brought her baby at work place for a few days. People in our office were so happy to see a baby and enjoy a baby around. In another case what I saw in Uganda, one of my Ugandan friends is a single mother having two kids and brings her kids to her office which is in Mubende. There are so many kids around the office and when she needs to leave the office to visit somewhere, she can leave her baby in the office since the neighbors can take care of her kids with other kids.

However, it is not always common to bring kids at the workplace in gender insensitive institutions in Uganda. Thus, in the most cases, women who have a job, hire a baby-sitter or house maid who can take care of their kids as well as do all house work including cleaning, washing, and cooking. The cost of house maid in Uganda is cheap range from 30,000 to 150,000. Otherwise, there are some daycare centers but it seems so expensive for majority of Ugandans. In my view, hiring house maid is more helpful and convenient for the working mothers since the house maid does all your house works which reduces work burden. It gives the working mothers enough time to rest and get back to work the next morning healthy and strong.

In the case of Japan, many kids are on the waiting list because of lack of daycare centers which is a big problem. Although there is an option to hire a personal baby-sitter, but it is so costly and can be over their salary. Thus, it is challenging for Japanese women to keep working while raising children.

Not only Japanese women, but also my Ugandan friends who are a couple living in Japan and having two kids experience difficulties. According to them, Japan has so much resource and has everything, but raising children is not easy. Since both of them are currently master and doctor students, and sometimes they need to leave their kids somewhere when they both have a class.

However, they had to struggle to find a place to leave their kids since Japanese public daycare centers are very competitive and costly. Fortunately, their son finally enrolled in one daycare center. It took almost three years to find an available place. He said ‘I think the difficulty of raising children in Japan, it is challenging not only to foreigners but also to Japanese themselves.’

Even if you can find a place to leave your children, Japanese women have difficulties to keep their career due to the challenging Japanese work environment. For example, Japanese professional generally work overtime, after the official working hours they still remain in the office. However, if you have a kid in a daycare center; it is open until around 5 or 6 pm. So you must leave an office earlier to pick them up. According to the questionnaire survey conducted by Nikkei DUAL, shows that 3 out of 4 women answered that they felt hesitant to be in office after giving birth.

The reasons are 1. Leaving workplace earlier when the kid is sick, 2. No available overtime work, 3. The shorter working hours, etc. Those factors are also a barrier for career women to promotion or even their salary reduces since they cannot work full time. In addition, they felt bad that when they cannot carry out some tasks, others have to take care of her role and give them extra burden. That’s why many of them end up staying at home, either temporarily or permanently leave their jobs

Therefore, many Japanese women gave up their career after giving birth or they are forced to make a choice over career or giving birth. In comparing work environment for women between Japan and Uganda, Uganda’s working environment seems more friendly to women compare to working women in Japan.

By

Maiko Onishi, Japan