According to the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), Japanese husbands are some of the most likely in the world to not do any household chores or to help with childcare. In fact, men in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi areas are even less likely than the average Japanese husband to help out around the house and data shows that wives do about 7 times the amount of work their husbands do.
As a result, the “Kyushu / Yamaguchi Work-Life Balance Campaign” was created to encourage people in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi areas to find a way to make their home life and their work life more compatible, and to create workplaces that are more understanding and flexible when it comes to workers’ needs in regards to raising their children.
So what’s the best way to get people to pay attention to the campaign and to deepen one’s understanding of what pregnancy is like for women? By getting your male governors pregnant, of course.
The three current governors of the Saga Prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture, and Yamaguchi Prefecture put on jackets weighing 7.3 kg that replicate the additional weight a woman would be carrying around the 7th month of pregnancy and wore them as they went about their normal daily lives – working, shopping, doing laundry, washing dishes, you name it. Their goal was to try to understand even just a little bit more how much difficulty and discomfort women have to bear during pregnancy.
A video has been released showing some of the trials and tribulations the governors experienced throughout the experiment. On top of having a larger, heavier stomach, their field of view was reduced, which made something as simple as going up and down the stairs troublesome. Actions such as leaning over the sink to do dishes or bending down to grab something off of the bottom shelf at a supermarket caused their bodies to ache. Putting on socks, getting into cars, and so on proved to be much more difficult than they expected.
Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi of Saga Prefecture had this to say afterwards: “I’ve experienced many things since I’ve become a governor, but experiencing what pregnant women go through had a real impact on me.”
After the “Kyushu / Yamaguchi Work-Life Balance Campaign” began, 96.7% of the men who went through the same pregnancy experiment said that “men also need to be responsible for household chores and child-rearing”.
Though wearing a bulky, heavy jacket can’t compare to the real thing, it seems that the closer men come to understanding what women go through in general and not just during pregnancy, the more likely it is that feelings of true partnership, as well as mutual respect and admiration, will grow.
Images, Video: PRTimes, YouTube/九州・山口ワーク・ライフ・バランス推進キャンペーン
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