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COVID and women in poverty: Many at consultation event at Tokyo park needed winter clothes

Volunteers prepare for a consultation event for women in poverty at Okubo Park in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, on Dec. 25, 2021. The staff prepared not just food, but also flowers and other items to make the women feel at ease. (Mainichi/Satoshi Tokairin)

TOKYO -- A "women for women in poverty" consultation event was held on Dec. 25 and 26 at Okubo Park in the Kabukicho district of Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward.

    According to the organizing committee, many of the 169 women who came seeking help and advice were dressed lightly despite the winter cold, and asked for warm clothes, uncovering the harsh reality faced by women amid the pandemic.

    The organizing committee has held three of these events since it was formed in March 2021. All the committee members and consultants are women.

    Though the women who came to the event ranged in age from their teens to their 80s, there were especially a lot in the prime working years of their 40s, the committee said. At least one woman who sought help had had her work hours and thus pay drastically reduced because of the coronavirus, which forced her to live on small government loans to get through the crisis, but she had no idea how she was going to pay them back.

    "Women have been in precarious employment and living hand-to-mouth since before (the pandemic)," journalist and organizing committee member Chie Matsumoto told the Mainichi Shimbun. "It really hit me that we need to solve deep-rooted problems with employment and other facets of society."

    An "end-of-year support and coronavirus victim consultation village" event open to both women and men seeking advice on housing and managing daily expenses will be held in Okubo Park on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. And another women-only consulting session will he held on Jan. 8 and 9, 2022.

    (Japanese original by Satoshi Tokairin, Tokyo City News Department)

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