APDA The Asian Population and Development AssociationAPDA The Asian Population and Development Association

INTERVIEW

The burden of childcare and nursing care tends to fall disproportionately on women - it is extremely important to improve an environment so that women can balance care and work.

Member of the House of Representatives Hon. Ayano Kunimitsu https://kunimitsu-ayano.jp/

I am involved in the response to COVID-19 both as a member of the House of Representatives and a practicing physician. In the current third wave, the health care system is stretched to the limit, and health care professionals are debilitating for having to fight the disease over an extended period of time.

Hospitals are struggling to make ends meet. I am working on expediting support and providing a better environment for such health care centers and professionals. I have also worked on appropriating government budgets for expanding PCR tests and enabling hospitals to redesign hospital space to keep beds ready for COVID-19 patients.

I have been supporting “kodomo shokudo” (cafeterias providing free or low-priced meals to children in need), and as the number of struggling households increases with the coronavirus pandemic, I am also involved in food pantries and other activities for providing food to those in need. In my local district of Ibaraki Prefecture, we have many people growing vegetables, and many are willing to provide support by sharing or donating their vegetables.

I feel on the ground that women are more likely to take the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. Compared to men, more women are non-regular workers, and there has been an increase in the number of women who have depression-like symptoms and who become victims of domestic violence. Women who were already vulnerable before the pandemic find themselves in greater difficulties. There is a need to address their difficulties as soon as possible.

The burden of childcare and nursing care tends to fall disproportionately on women. It is extremely important to improve an environment so that women can balance care and work. It is essential to change people’s mindset that espouses long working hours and to provide and make accessible a diverse range of third-party childcare and nursing care services that give attention to detail. In my office, we hired a consultant and succeeded in reducing working hours. I would also like to widely share such successful cases in achieving work-life balance.

Interviewed in December 2020

※The titles shown are those held at the time of interview.

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