One of the problems with Japan, well recognized in the world, is the situation where there is less opportunity for women to shine when compared with other countries. The need for gender empowerment and gender equality is sorely needed, and is a major social issue.
I have long been advocating gender equality, and have mentioned this topic numerous times (a quick search of my blog will tell you just how much) and thus have been invited to participate in panel discussions about this topic.
On the 4th of August, I attended an event organized by Ms. Sasaki (CEO of ewoman), the 18th International Conference for Women In Business, where I was on a dialogue with Ms.Yuri Okina (link in Japanese). The last time I met Ms. Okina was for the Keizai Doyukai Panel a few years ago. I shared this very stage two years ago with Ms. Yoko Ishikura (link in Japanese).
There were a lot of young women in the audience, and the program for the whole event was packed with interesting events. Started off by an opening speech by the organizer Ms. Sasaki, the event included talks by Kathy Matsui, two women Ministers, both are lawyers and children, Ms. Mori and Ms. Inada, a stirring address by the mayor of Yokohama city, Ms. Hayashi. These were followed by my dialogue with Ms. Okina. And there was more to come in the afternoon sessions as well.
Worth special mention is the talk by Japan’s fencing silver medalist at the Olympic Games, Mr. Ota (link to blog in Japanese). His points of view and his perceptions are truly world-class.
At the event, I sold around 50 copies of my book co-authored with Ms. Ishikura, ‘How to Build a World-Class Career’. What I was really happy though, was to see a visitor who had brought along their own copy of this book and asked for my autograph.
On the 8th of August, I went to Tohoku University in Sendai. This was to attend a symposium (link in Japanese) held as part of a series of events (link in Japanese) to commemorate the first ever female students accepted into then Imperial University, which happened here over 100 years ago; three women were accepted here.
Everyone on the program were very happy to join this event, particularly the two visitors from the U.S and the U.K, respectively, Dr. Colwell and Dr. Haynigen, but also Ms. Kubo, Ms. Tsujimura, Ms. Mukai, Ms. Kotani, the two Ms. Takahashis, Ms. Motomura, the two Ms. Kurodas, Ms. Harayama, and Ms. Ueki, all were inspiring.
Additional information may be found on the Tohoku University page, because the event was organized by the efficient Ms. Noriko Osumi (link to her blog in Japanese).
Finally, there was a speech by the President of Tohoku University not exactly promising anything but providing hope that change is close by. The key issue is when the promises will be made into reality.
I was with Rita Colwell for the fourth time this year, and I was also with Ms. Motomura, with whom I had shared a panel discussion the previous day for the Nature Cafe.
I have been pretty busy this hot summer days, but it has been rewarding as well.