Chores equality in the home is one of the big factors that can impact a marriage and family life. It doesn't help of course when you have one study telling you that men tend to do less chores after baby. (If you find your man doing that, inform him of another study that found sharing childcare duties could lead to better sex lives.)
In Japan, sharing household chores equally seems to be an uphill battle. According to a 2014 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japanese men are the most unhelpful in a survey of 35 countries around the world. Women do the housework five times more than the men. To be fair here, Japanese men are widely known to work hard and long hours at the office since they are often the sole breadwinners.
That said, three male government officials have made a video to encourage the men to help more around the house. Entitled The Governor is a Pregnant Woman, it follows three prefecture (state) governors from southern Japan, who each wore a pregnancy vest that weighs 7.3 kilograms (that's 16 pounds!) to put themselves in a woman's shoes, so to speak. The pregnancy vest is the same weight as a seven-month pregnant woman carries.
The idea came from Kyushu Yamagachi Work Life Promotion Campaign and urges men to adopt a more balanced distribution of chores in their households. You don’t really need to learn how to read Japanese to appreciate the video. Watch:
Upon donning the vest, one of the governors instantly noticed that it's a lot heavier than he expected. Governor Shunji Kono of the Miyazaki Prefecture, also lamented, "This really drags at your shoulders and back." The three men went shopping, took the bus to take their groceries home, vacuumed the floor, and did the laundry. The video also perfectly captures the difficulty pregnant women have with even the most mundane tasks, such as going down the stairs, getting in a car, and putting on socks.
"I can see how hard it is to be carrying a child and do house chores. I think I have to be much kinder," said Governor Kono, father of three. Governor Tsugumasa Muraoka of the Yamaguchi Prefecture who is also a father of three realized, "Now that I understand what my wife put up with for so many months, I’m full of gratitude." Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi of the Saga Prefecture said, "I’ve experienced many things since I’ve become a governor, but experiencing what pregnant women go through had a real impact on me." Hopefully the men do start helping more around the house -- and not only when their wives are pregnant.
Today, Filipino families are slowly embracing the concept of gender equality in the home, but we're also not quite there yet. We welcome the proposals to provide moms and dads longer maternity and paternity leaves, but we're still waiting for it to be signed into law. Maybe our men lawmakers need to experience wearing a pregnancy vest, too, to expedite the passing of those laws. What do you think?