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    Women Shouldn’t be Defeated by COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the issues that impact women’s lives, particularly that of poverty. In Japan, approximately 340,000 men lost their jobs in the immediate wake of COVID-19, but the figure is much higher for women: at roughly 740,000. This inequality is partly due to women being less likely to be in stable, full-time employment. Another issue that has become exacerbated by the pandemic is domestic violence. According to the Japanese Cabinet Office, the number of women seeking advice for domestic violence and related issues from May to June 2020 - when they were confined to their homes - increased by roughly 60% compared to the previous year.

    Women Shouldn’t be Defeated by COVID-19

    Examining the increased number of domestic violence consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic on a monthly basis shows a 60% year-on-year spike during the months of May and June*.

    DV Advice Plus was set up urgently in response to concerns about the increase in domestic violence incidents, and their level of seriousness during this period. As more women self-isolated at home or took temporary leave from work due to the pandemic, the number of advice centres increased to meet growing demand.

    Published by Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office *The nationwide consultation totals from Domestic Violence Advice Centers around the country are provisional figures as of November 30, 2020.

    Clothing Donations & Special Events

    When women lose their jobs, they can no longer support themselves financially. They may be at risk of domestic violence, or they may lose their family. We believe these women need to be able to regain their confidence. We want to use the power of clothing to help them smile again. With that aim in mind, UNIQLO has donated innerwear and other clothing items to women living in shelters by enlisting the help of NGOs worldwide. However, in the face of COVID-19, we no longer believe that is enough.

    On March 8th 2021 - International Women’s Day - UNIQLO and other Fast Retailing Group brands presented around 10,000 items of clothing - including dresses, cardigans, pants, and bags - through the Wakakusa Project, to women who are living in shelters. UNIQLO and GU stores in Tokyo and Osaka also hold events where they invite shelter residents to come and choose their favorite clothes, free of charge. Stylists give the women clothing advice and a professional photographer takes photographs. All of these events are designed to give women the opportunity to regain their independence. UNIQLO will continue to work with various partners to facilitate these initiatives.

    On March 14th, our UNIQLO TOKYO store invited Wakakusa Project director Atsuko Muraki and NHK producer Kazuyo Fukuda to speak about women’s issues in the wake of COVID-19.

    What is the Wakakusa Project?

    The Wakakusa Project seeks to help girls and young women who are experiencing issues including poverty, abuse, neglect, domestic violence, bullying, sexual exploitation, drug dependence, or maternity neurosis, but also those who are just finding life tough. At a glance, Japanese society appears rich. There are many prejudices and misunderstandings about why these women find it difficult to live and the issues they face, so support is often lacking. The Wakakusa Project is an initiative that seeks to bring girls and young women together with people who can extend the support that will change their lives.