Japan's Women Sailors Serve on Front Line of Gender Equality
Women serving on Japan's biggest warship, the Kaga, are a tight-knit group on the front line of a push to transform the Japanese navy into a mixed-gender fighting force, where men outnumber them more than 10 to one. The Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) needs more women because falling birth rates mean it has too few men to crew warships in home waters or on helicopter carriers such as the Kaga, sailing in foreign waters to counter China's growing regional influence. "Women all over the world are working in a wider number of areas and I think Japan needs to be a part of that," said petty officer Akiko Ihara, 31, standing beside one of the helicopters she helps to maintain. The proportion of women in the Kaga's 450-strong crew is bout 9 percent, a level Japan is targeting for the military overall by 2030 from 6 percent now. That would still fall short of U.S., where 15 percent of people in uniform are women, and Britain with 10 percent. "We all work in different teams around the ship but we are all friends," Ihara added. "We do sometimes moan a little about our male colleagues." The nine-year veteran says she has encountered no workplace discrimination, and would challenge any man who thinks women are unsuited for military life to work with her. More women recruits are making the SDF a more "rounded" organization, said Ayako Yoneda, 29, a firefighter and engineer on the Kaga. "When I first joined nine years ago there were few women and it felt like men then didn't know how to deal with us," she said. "I think the men now see things more from our perspective. The SDF has become a gentler place." Nonetheless, the women do face sexual harassment. In July, the navy... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Japan's Women Sailors Serve on Front Line of Gender Equality, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Wednesday, 10 October, 2018
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