International Women’s Day: Treat working moms as completely normal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Asuka Terada

A world needs to be created in which working women are considered completely normal, said Asuka Terada, the national titleholder in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and mother to a 6-year-old daughter.

“The gender gap won’t disappear unless we achieve a society in which working women are not perceived as unusual,” Terada told The Yomiuri Shimbun on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Terada, who intends to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, said she was grateful for the attention she receives as a “mom athlete.” However, “the fact that this term exists means there is still insufficient understanding,” she added.

Male athletes are rarely referred to as “dad athletes,” and this wording comes from the idea that work is equated with men and housework with women, she said.

There is still an insufficient framework in Japan for professional athletes to raise children, she said. Terada herself had trouble finding a daycare center — “I couldn’t enroll my daughter in an authorized daycare center and worried about what to do. But, I was able to get into one run by my company,” she recalled.

More and more athletes are speaking out about gender equality. Hitomi Niiya, who has been selected for the Tokyo Olympics in women’s long-distance track, has spoken out about amenorrhea.

Terada said gender equality is an issue that all of society must tackle.