By Chloe Aeberhardt.
When we started looking for women stories to do in Tokyo, what struck us the most was how misogynous the Japanese society still is. Last year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gen- der Gap Report ranked Japan at a dismal 101 out of 135 countries. In Japan, women working full-time earn on average 30.7 percent less than men, and 70 percent of women drop out of the work force after having their first baby, due to family pressure (the Japanese are still VERY conservative) and a lack of daycare and nursing-care services.
Then we discovered this amazing company called Mo House.
Since 1997, Mo House has designed and produced stylish clothes for breastfeeding, which is great (each top or dress has very discrete openings that allow the mother to breastfeed in public without anyone noticing). What is even more interesting, though, is that the founder, Yuka Mitsuhata, a 50 year old mother of three, only hires women. Amongst the 45 employees currently working in the office or the shops, a majority have very young children who they can bring to work until they’re 2! When you go and visit, it is really surprising to see these babies in nappies hanging around, with their mothers desperately trying to focuse on their work…
To make a long story short, Mo House enables women who would have otherwise quit work to keep their job. It is the only 100% female company of that scale in Japan. Ms Mitsuhata herself considers it a kind of lab she wishes will give ideas to other employers, as well as politicians. The day after we met, she had a meeting with a minister from the governement to talk about women in the workforce. With the economic crisis going on, Japan is starting to realize that raising the rate of female employment could increase its labor force by millions and expand its gross domestic product by as much as 15% (says a senior economist we interviewed).