WWIN News NO.14 NOV.3.2003

WWIN invited Dr Hanna Beate Schopp-Schilling who is the Member of CEDAW since
the end of Sept to Oct 5th.
She gave us her lecture especially about “The Indirect Discrimination” and “The
Optional Protocol” at Osaka,Fukuoka and Tokyo .
About 550 audiences gathered there and they were encouraged by her lecture.
Several newspapers had the report on her lecture .
We introduce you one of the article which News Paper is Nikkei as follow.


       Sept.28th at Osaka

Interview with Dr. Schoepp-Schilling, Member of the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Nikkei Shimbun, 8 Oct. 2003, p. 14, evening edition

Clear Definition of Indirect Discrimination Needed
Track-based Personnel Management within Convention Scope
Child-care Leave for Men Also Necessary

Dr. Schoepp-Schilling, the German Member of UN CEDAW and an expert on global trends in women’s labour issues, was invited to Japan by NGOs.

The CEDAW monitors the situation of State Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Recommendations were sent to the Japanese Government this August. Nikkei Shimbun interviewed Dr. Schoepp-Schilling, who has earlier served as the Director on Women in the Federal Ministry of Health and Welfare, on the recommendation and other issues.

Q: How do you see the situation regarding women’s labour in Japan?
“My comments will be personal and not made as a CEDAW member. The Japanese Government admits in its 5th Report to the CEDAW submitted in 2002, that women do not enjoy a stable status in the labour market. Many women work part-time, or as dispatch workers.”
“In many cases, women bear the burden of both work and home, so many women in the rest of the world also want to work part-time. But the situation itself, in which there is no other option except part-time work, is discriminatory and undesirable. Many countries in the EU have legislation prohibiting discrimination against part-time workers in pay and treatment. I would like to see the Japanese Government take legislative measures to prohibit discrimination against part-time workers. And in that case, the prohibition should be not just for pay but should cover maternity and child-care leave, and should prohibit discrepancies in treatment compared with regular workers.”
Q: CEDAW recommended that Japan should take steps against indirect discrimination. Unlike direct discrimination, which limits promotion and recruitment on grounds of being a woman, indirect discrimination is not known in Japan.
“Indirect discrimination is discrimination, in which a law, regulation, provision or practice is neutral at first glance, but has a negative impact on either one of the sexes. In the U.S. for example, there used to be certain height and weight requirement in the hiring standards for the police. But in general, women were shorter and weighed less, and not many were hired. The court then ruled that weight and height requirement was indirect discrimination, and that the police should assess individual aptitude and abilities instead, which lead to the change in provisions which were disadvantageous for women.”
“There are cases in Europe as well. In a department store in Germany, treatment for part-time workers was less favourable than that of full-time workers. The majority of full-time workers were men, while the majority of part-time workers were women, and the part-time women were not even given the opportunity to transfer to full-time work. Therefore, the court decided that the situation amounted to indirect discrimination.”
“Japan should clearly define what constitutes indirect discrimination, not just in labour laws, but also in general laws, such as the civil code. If the definition is not clear, the labour courts will not have a standard to assess the cases.”
Q: In Japan, we have track-based personnel system, in which employees are categorized in tracks for mainstay positions and for assistant positions, and the latter consists mostly of women.
“The Japanese Government did not provide us with the English translation of the Guidelines for implementing the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, so we had to rely on the NGO information regarding track-based personnel management. Accurate assessment is therefore difficult. But if the understanding is correct that, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law prohibits sex discrimination only within the same employment management category, and does not cover discrimination among different categories, such as management position tracks and assistant position tracks, the situation, in which the former is mostly men and the latter mostly women, is likely to be indirect discrimination.”
“I have heard that the Japanese Government is currently having the equal employment opportunity policy study group study the definition of indirect discrimination, including cases in other countries. I hope that through studies on cases in other countries, they would reflect on the Japanese situation, to see whether it amounts to indirect discrimination.”
Q: While calling for the elimination of sex discrimination on the one hand, there is a strong opposition among women to being drawn into the long-hour labour.
“The Convention provides that maternity is a social function, and child rearing and education is a responsibility borne by both women and men. I think the ideal society is one where young parents are both given the opportunity both at work and at home. For example, in Sweden and Germany, parents can not only take child-care leave, but they are guaranteed to return to their former jobs. In Sweden, income security during leave is also being secured through parent insurance.”
“The key to realizing a desirable society would be not just taking legal measures, but to think of creating an environment in which men can take child-care leave. In Sweden, some companies have a system, in which bonus points are awarded in their assessment evaluation, when employees take child-care leave. On the other hand, Germany has a requirement to increase the ratio of women in management position in the civil service. These measures will provide some reference.”
Chart: UN CEDAW Concluding Comments (main points regarding Japanese labour)
*Recommends that a definition of discrimination against women, encompassing both direct and indirect discrimination be included in the domestic legislation.
*Expresses concern at the high percentage of women in part-time and dispatch work, whose salaries are lower than those working in a regular situation.
*Urges that the Guidelines to the Equal Employment Opportunity Law be amended, and efforts increased towards promoting the achievement of de facto equality between men and women in the labour market.
*Recommends that efforts be made to eliminate horizontal, segregation such as by job classifications and forms of employment as well as vertical segregation such as by promotion, through education, training and systematic monitoring.