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Osaka Prefecture supporting women anxious about jobs, income amid pandemic

The "community space for women" is seen at the Dawn Center in Osaka's Chuo Ward on Aug. 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Yuki Noguchi)

OSAKA -- The Osaka Prefectural Government is providing information and free counseling to women worried about the coronavirus pandemic's impact on their jobs and income, at a community space for women.

    The community space was set up at the Osaka Prefectural Center for Youth and Gender Equality, commonly known as the "Dawn Center," in the city of Osaka's Chuo Ward on July 14 so that women can casually stop by for consultations. Female counselors listen to the visitors, and provide items including suits for job hunting, sanitary products and cosmetics if necessary.

    A prefectural government survey conducted in July and August 2020 highlighted the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on female workers, with more women than men saying their income had decreased. The prefecture decided to establish a consultation center, tapping a subsidy system set up by the Cabinet Office in March 2021 for local governments supporting women under pressure from the pandemic in cooperation with entities such as nonprofit organizations.

    Licensed counselors such as mental health welfare professionals are always on-duty at the community space, and their tasks include providing support information and introducing more specialized consultation services. No reservation is necessary, so women can drop in any time. The community space also plans to set up opportunities for people with the same worries to interact. Funds for items to provide to visitors, such as clothing and daily supplies, were provided by companies and organizations that agreed to cooperate on the project concept.

    A prefectural government gender equality and residents' cooperation division representative is calling on people to take advantage of the service, saying, "We want visitors to talk about various topics and clarify their problems to move on to their next step, and be cheered up by the time they go home."

    The community space is open between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, and between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Consultations are free. For more information, contact the Dawn Center by phone at 06-6910-8500 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Yuki Noguchi, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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