NWEC Global Seminar
- Event Report
FY2021 NWEC Global Seminar: Combating Gender-Based Violence – “Building Back Better” from the Covid-19 Crisis
Date：From December 1st, 2021 to December 21st, 2021
National Women's Education Center of Japan will hold 2021 NWEC Global Seminar featuring " Combating Gender-Based Violence – “Building Back Better” from the Covid-19 Crisis". Experts from USA and Australia will give keynote presentations.
An alarming upsurge of violence and extraordinary hardships against vulnerable groups has emerged in the face of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The United Nations called it a “Shadow Pandemic” and reiterated the vital needs of women and girls to take a central role in “building back better” after Covid-19.
This year’s NWEC Global Seminar will focus on ways to combat Gender-Based Violence and build a better society in a post Covid-19 world. Based on the best practices and experiences from the overseas, participants of the NWEC Global Seminar will seek ways to combat these challenges and how individuals can approach the issues.
Combating Gender-Based Violence – “Building Back Better” from the Covid-19 Crisis
National Women’s Education Center of Japan
4. Collaboration with
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
All Japan Women’s Shelter Network
On-demand Videos and Live Streaming
Keynote Presentation (from the United States and Australia) and Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence (from the Netherlands and Rwanda) (On-demand Videos)
Wednesday, 1 December 2021 at 9:00 to Tuesday, 21 December 2021 at 17:00
Panel Discussion (Live Streaming)
Thursday, 16 December 2021 from 14:00 to 16:00
Japanese (Keynote Lecturers and Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence shall be provided with Japanese subtitles)
Any individuals who are interested in the topic (Around 100 individuals)
Keynote Presentation 1 (USA)
Title: Thai Community Development Center: Protecting the Vulnerable since 1994
Ms. Chanchanit (Chancee) Martorell, Founder & Executive Director
Ms. Panida Rzonca, Directing Attorney
Thai Community Development Center
The Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) was established in 1994 in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Riots in 1992. The Thai CDC was founded based on the understanding that everyone has the basic rights to access standard livelihood and quality of life. Since the establishment, Thai CDC has addressed multifaceted needs of Thai and other disadvantaged immigrants, including the trafficking in persons in garment factories or agricultural sectors. The organization has brought about empowerment and community development for low-income immigrants. Presentation will focus on the activities that Thai CDC has taken against violence against women and girls for decades, what kind of difficulties women and girls have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how Thai CDC envisions programs for women and girls in a post Covid-19 world.
Keynote Presentation 2 (Australia)
Title: Violence Against Women and Girls in a Digital World
Ms. Karen Bentley
CEO, The Women’s Service Network (WESNET) / Founder, Safety Net Australia project
Since the establishment in 1992, the Women’s Network Service (WESNET) represents a range of organizations and individuals including women’s refuges, shelters, safe houses and information/referral services. WESNET has directly helped women via national network of frontline agencies to increase women’s safer access to technology devices, products, and services. They also train, educate, and support frontline domestic and family violence workers to equip victim-survivors with strategies on how to use technology in ways that benefit women, and protect their privacy and safety. Presentation will focus on how WESNET tackled the emerging challenges under the Covid-19 pandemic and supported women and girls by utilizing or evolving their existing support tools and systems.
Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence (The Netherlands): ”Ask him why"
“Ask him why” performed by the Women Survivors Rap Group was presented at the 4th World Conference of Women’s Shelters (4WCWS). The participants of the Global Seminar will be introduced this short video clip where the performers ask audience to stop victim blaming, to protect survivors' rights, and ultimately to ask for women's solidarity.
Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence (Rwanda): Ingoma Nshya (New Drum / New Power)
The founder of the first-ever Rwandan female drumming troupe, Ingoma Nshya (New Drum / New Power), will explain the powerful transformation brought to women and the society through the art of drumming, as well as the deep-rooted Gender-Based Violence that still remains in Rwanda.
Combating Violence against Women and Girls – Beyond Covid-19 Crisis
Ms. Chisato Kitanaka, Executive Director
All Japan Women’s Shelter Network
"Prevention of Gender-based Violence is a Global Trend: Commonalities and Challenges Through World Shelter Movement"
Ms. Makiko Kubota, Senior Advisor on Gender and Development
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
"Toward the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls: Efforts and Challenges of International Cooperation"
Ms. Motoko Yamagishi, Secretary General
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
"Current Status and Challenges on Domestic Violence against Migrant Women: Toward Empowerment of the Survivors"
Ms. Yoko Yoshida, Lawyer and Co-Chair
Japan Network Against Trafficking In Persons (JNATIP)
"Law Support for Domestic Violence, Sexual Crime, Human Trafficking Victims: Challenges and Ways Forward"
Ms. Fumie Saito, Director, Global Advocacy
Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP)
Please register from the website of FY2021 NWEC Forum
(Available from Wednesday, 24 November 2021)
11. Participation Fee
Free of Charge
FY2021 NWEC Global Seminar was held on the theme of “Combating Gender-Based Violence: ‘Building Back Better’ from the Covid-19 Crisis” from Wednesday, December 1 to Tuesday, December 21, 2021.
This year's seminar featured on-demand videos of the keynote presentations and reports on overseas initiatives, and live streaming of the panel discussion.
For the keynote presentations, the Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC), which is based in Los Angeles, USA, reported on its efforts to empower vulnerable groups such as victims of trafficking in persons and immigrants; and the Women’s Service Network (WESNET) introduced its ICT-facilitated initiatives for survivors of violence against women, and other support initiatives undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia.
Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC)
Ms. Chanchanit (Chancee) Martorell, Founder and Executive Director, and Ms. Panida Rzonca, Directing Attorney of Thai CDC, gave a presentation titled “Thai Community Development Center: Protecting the Vulnerable since 1994.”
Thai CDC was established in response to riots arising from racial tensions and an earthquake that occurred in Los Angeles in the early 90s. The presentation introduced Thai CDC's long-standing activities to protect the human rights of minority residents, including undocumented Thai nationals; legal support activities for sexually exploited trafficking victims; and activities to promote social and economic empowerment of community members. Thai CDC, which aims to build sustainable communities, has not only provided vaccinations and lump-sum payments during the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have also actively developed outreach activities to support women whose victimization by domestic violence has become less visible due to their being cooped up at home as a result of lockdown measures.
The Women’s Services Network (WESNET)
Ms. Karen Bentley, CEO of WESNET, gave a presentation on “Violence against Women and Girls in a Digital World” in which she reported on cases of digital violence and the impact of digital violence on women and girls.
WESNET has been providing advanced ICT-facilitated support to women survivors of violence, both on its own and in partnerships with corporations and local governments, enabling women to learn how to use technology safely and break the vicious cycle of digital violence domination. Their report concluded by noting that each of us have a role to play in the prevention of violence against women and not only do we need to support women and girls who have suffered violence and intervene in a timely manner to prevent violence before it worsens, but that it was important to promote gender equality.
●Overseas Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence
Two overseas initiatives were introduced: The rap song “Ask him why” and the female drum group “Ingoma Nshya” (New Drum, New Power).
Rap song “Ask him why”
Noting this song had been created by a group of women survivors of gender-based violence as a message to share at the 4th World Conference of Women’s Shelter, Chisato Kitanaka, Executive Director of the All Japan Women’s Shelter Network, explained that the lyrics had been inspired by the words of women who have battled domestic and sexual violence around the world; that “Ask him why” was a song about getting help, getting through, healing, recovering, and empowerment; and that it was important to spread the message “Stop blaming the victim; protect their rights.”
Female drumming group “Ingoma Nshya” (meaning New Drum, New Power)
Ms. Gakire Katese, founder of Rwanda’s first women’s drumming group “Ingoma Nshya,” introduced the background to the group’s creation, changes in mindsets achieved through drumming, and the gender discrimination and gender norms that exist in Rwandan society. The genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994 led to a decline in the male population, and although women have been responsible for the country’s recovery, they have been excluded from the arts. The video showed that by responding to her call, women who were unable to go to school and wives who had lost their husbands had come together to form a drumming group that had developed to the extent that they hold drumming concerts all over the world, which now provides the women social and economic independence. Although Rwanda has been promoting gender equality throughout the country, sexism and gender norms are still deeply ingrained, and Ms. Katese continues working to make Rwanda’s cultural landscape more women-friendly.
In the panel discussion titled “Combating Violence against Women and Girls - Beyond Covid-19 Crisis,” the panelists from organizations working in various fields to eliminate violence against women and girls convened to consider the issue together, and reflected on the keynote presentations and overseas initiatives.
Kicking off the panel discussion, the coordinator, Ms. Fumie Saito, Director of Global Advocacy at the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP), referred to the keynote presentations and overseas initiatives as she spoke about increases in the number of consultations on domestic violence as a pandemic arising in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Touching on changes observed by involved individuals over the 20 years since the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims (DV Act) was enacted and remaining issues, she emphasized the importance of raising the issue of violence against women now.
In the first half of the discussion, panelists introduced their respective efforts to combat violence against women and girls.
Ms. Chisato Kitanaka, Executive Director of the All Japan Women’s Shelter Network, addressed the theme “Prevention of Gender-based Violence is a Global Trend: Commonalities and Challenges Through World Shelter Movement.” Introducing the world shelter movement, she touched on the need for a conceptual approach to support; new initiatives and challenges in shelter management during the Covid-19 pandemic; and new forms of violence such as digital sex abuse.
Ms. Yoko Yoshida, Lawyer and Co-Chair of the Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons (JNATIP), spoke on the theme of “Law Support for Domestic Violence, Sexual Crime, Human Trafficking Victims: Challenges and Ways Forward.” Introducing laws pertaining to sexual violence, trafficking in persons, and spousal violence, she noted the fact that existing laws were limited to punishing perpetrators and protecting victims, and stated it was important to review them and focus on the prevention of violence and provision of support, taking into consideration the fact that the economic gap between men and women lies behind violence against women.
Ms. Motoko Yamagishi, Secretary General of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), spoke on the “Current Status of and Challenges in Domestic Violence against Migrant Women: Toward Empowerment of the Survivors.” Noting that non-Japanese women living in Japan often fall into a vulnerable position due to factors such as language, cultural barriers and status of residence; and that it was difficult to provide them with appropriate support in response to domestic violence, she stated the importance of building communities with stronger ties between involved individuals, and helping such individuals make their voices heard.
Ms. Makiko Kubota, Senior Advisor on Gender and Development at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), spoke on “Toward the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls: Efforts and Challenges of International Cooperation.” Touching on the fact that although various forms of violence occur in different regions and societies around the world, in all cases, affected women are forced to remain silent and the perpetrators escape punishment, she stated the importance of strengthening survivor-centered support systems and promoting awareness and behavioral change in local communities.
In the latter half of the panel discussion, the coordinator, Ms. Saito, posed the question: How should we tackle gender-based violence based on overseas efforts? Ms. Kitanaka referred to WESNET’s advanced efforts against digital violence, and shared the challenge presented by the fact that in Japan, cooperation between private shelters, government, and businesses is tenuous, and the extent to which public spousal violence counseling and support centers established in each prefecture are able to develop their activities independently is limited. Ms. Yoshida talked about how women who were victims of violence had raised their voices in the rap song “Ask him why,” and touched on the importance of women gaining economic power and speaking out with self-esteem. Referring to the efforts of Thai CDC, Ms. Yamagishi pointed out the importance of providing comprehensive legal and social support (counseling, casework, food and housing support), fair legal system support, equitable and sustainable community building, and comprehensive victim empowerment for vulnerable groups in society. Ms. Kubota touched on the efforts of Ingoma Nshya, the female drumming group that has helped female survivors regain their strength and self-esteem, and how Ingoma Nshya, with the support of young female entrepreneurs from Blue Marble Ice Cream in the USA, had launched Rwanda’s first ice cream store, Sweet Dreams. With regard to strengthening support systems, she emphasized the importance of listening carefully to the voices of local women and helping them build networks that will connect them with various stakeholders.
In response to a second question from the coordinator, “When addressing violence against women from various positions, what are the top priority issues that need to be addressed in the areas of prevention, awareness-raising, protection, recovery and support becoming self-reliant?” Ms. Kubota mentioned the need to learn from grassroots activities in order to support survivors reestablish their lives, and Ms. Yamagishi emphasized the need for mid- to long-term recovery after temporary protection, support for becoming self-reliant, and detailed support for non-Japanese residents in Japan. Ms. Yoshida stated that supporters should be aware of the relationship between power and control and their own gender norms, and that women can enhance their ability to speak up by becoming economically independent. Referring to the Istanbul Convention on the protection of women from all forms of violence and the prevention, prosecution and elimination of violence against women and domestic violence, and the fact that punishment of perpetrators and victim-centered support are more advanced overseas, Ms. Kitanaka suggested that Japan should learn from international standards and implement appropriate measures.
Participants also shared many opinions and questions, and a lively discussion ensued.
At the end of the seminar, looking ahead to the post-Covid-19 society, the participants reaffirmed that in order to eliminate gender-based violence, it would be necessary to take measures to change the social inequalities that underlie gender-based violence, to provide support that ensures no one is left behind, and to collaborate with various actors both domestically and internationally. All in all, the seminar proved to be very meaningful in that it provided insight on what Japan needs in the future and what each of us should do to fight against gender-based violence.
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