Middle-aged and older single women are being dismissed one after another due to coronavirus pandemic

2022.4.6 11:41
The poverty of middle-aged and older women living alone is becoming more serious. Under the prolonged novel coronavirus, women are being forced into a difficult situation due to a series of dismissals and hiring suspensions in the food and beverage industry, which has many female employees.

A woman left the venue with a bag of food she received at the food distribution=In Shinjuku Ward

◆They seem to think they can fire me.

”I am good if I can eat two meals a day.”
In mid-February 2022, a 47-year-old woman from Toshima Ward said. She were first visited a food distribution group in front of the Tokyo Tokyo Metropolitan Government. She cannot rely on Her elderly parents living on a pension. Her savings have run out and she has 800,000 yen in debt for her living expenses.
At the company where this woman worked as a full-time employee after graduating from junior college, she was forced to work long hours from early morning to late night. Many women quit due to marriage or childbirth, and she retired in about eight years without having the image of continuing to work. "It was difficult to continue if I couldn't work like a man," she recalls.
After that, she worked as a temporary worker in various workplaces. As she got older, her contracts got shorter. "All the work that anyone can do. I didn't accumulate any skills."
In the spring of 2020, when the corona outbreak spread, the restaurant where she worked part time closed and her previous monthly income of 100,000 yen was almost gone. Her job search is also not going well. Women, who are often responsible for housework and childcare, are not allowed to work, "It's like they think it's only to support the family budget and that it's OK to cut off employment".
Since December last year, she hasn't even paid the national pension. "I want to be healthy for my old age. I want to find a job and earn income as soon as possible," she said.

◆Half of women over 65 years old are in relative poverty

"The poverty problem of middle-aged and older single women has been left behind both socially and politically." Oya Sayoko, the representative of the support group "Wakuwaku Senior Singles", emphasizes that the coronavirus pandemic that hit the service industry, where many women work, made this problem even more serious.
Oya considers the omission of middle-aged and older people from the scope of employment and counseling support to be a problem. For example, the educational training support benefit system, which supports the acquisition of qualifications, excludes people over 45 years of age. Mr. Oya says, "The age limit should be eliminated. Support measures for single mothers and their children also become thin once the children reach the age of 18 or older. It seems that women are only recognized for their existence when they bear children."
In single-person households, about one-quarter of women in the working generation (20-64 years old) and about half of women aged 65 and over are in relative poverty (living below half of standard income).
The average monthly amount of old-age welfare pension for 2020 is about 170,000 yen for men aged 65 and over, which is a big difference from about 109000 yen for women. This is because many women have been engaged in low-wage non-regular work, and even regular employees have a wage gap between men and women.
Oya said that many women cannot make a living on pension benefits alone, "There is an assumption in society that women are dependent on men for support. In particular, many of those in their 40s who are in the ice age of employment are part-time workers, and the percentage of unmarried women is also increasing. The poverty rate among elderly women is expected to increase further."

This article is composed using Google Translate customized exclusively for The Chunichi Shimbun. The translation may have limited accuracy.