NWEC Global Seminar
- Event Report
FY2016 NWEC Global Seminar: Promotion for Advancement of Women –Lessons from Europe
Date：December 2, 2016
Place：Shufu Kaikan Plaza F B2F Clarte Conference Room ／
National Women’s Education Center of Japan (NWEC) invites overseas specialists and analyzes issues pertinent to the Asian Pacific Region around themes of a global scale such as women’s human rights and women’s capacity building and training; enhance exchange with researchers, government officials and leaders of women's organizations; and build networks.
2016 Global Seminar will focus on the topic of “Promotion for Advancement of Women” to discuss means and strategies to solve the issue, referring to the best practices and lessons learned from EU countries.
National Women's Education Center of Japan
On Friday, December 2, 2016, the National Women’s Education Center of Japan hosted the 2016 NWEC Global Seminar under the theme of “Initiatives for Promoting Women’s Empowerment - Learning from Europe’s Experience” at Shufu Kaikan Plaza F (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), where active discussions among nearly 90 domestic and international participants took place.
The keynote speaker for Part I was Ms. Kira Appel, Chief Adviser to the Minister of the Ministry for Children, Education, and Gender Equality, Kingdom of Denmark. In a presentation titled “Gender Equality in Denmark - a Long but Rewarding Journey,” she provided a detailed report on the historical, legal and institutional initiatives in Denmark and described the political drivers and societal development necessary for ensuring equal opportunities in Denmark.
Part I Keynote Address
Based on her experience in engaging in drawing up and formulating the government’s action plans/gender equality policies, Ms. Appel described that behind the status quo, there have been historical initiatives, and the institutional framework to promote gender equality has functioned strongly. She also concluded that as prerequisites for future progress, candid discussions on the following subjects are essential: ① the institution for gender equality promotion/social welfare organizations stipulated in the law; ② economic/personal independence; ③ benefits of diversity and gender equality.
Ms. Appel also emphasized that the current gender equality in Denmark was achieved as a result of a long history. As a starting point, women’s suffrage was granted in 1915, and the first female minister was inaugurated in 1924. The participation of women in the labor market was encouraged in the 1960s, and institutions were put in place in the 1970s. Thus, the women’s movement and the fight to win rights in which small achievements were accumulated brought a change to society and realized today’s current gender equality. Her explanation that equality is a consequence of proactive initiatives that became possible gradually through a difficult journey – rather than being naturally generated – provided the participants with a strong message and a deep and profound impression.
Ms. Kira Appel
In the panel discussion for Part II, there were enthusiastic reports and discussions under the main theme of “Initiatives for Promoting Women’s Empowerment - Challenges for the EU and Japan.” The forward-thinking initiatives taken by EU countries to lead gender equality are highly suggestive to Japanese society, and on-going initiatives in Denmark, Poland, and Japan were discussed and shared by the panelists.
Part II Panel Discussion
Based on her experience in working on gender equality for ten years in the Polish government, Ms. Monika Ksieniewicz explained about “Issues and Challenges to Mainstream Gender in EU countries.” The sequence of events leading up to mainstream gender through the Treaty of Rome, the Amsterdam Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, etc., as well as examples in Poland were introduced, and the European Union’s project toward gender equality was outlined in detail.
Ms. Monika Ksieniewicz
As an expert of work life balance policies, in particular men’s way of working, child rearing, and working environment, Mr. Shingou Ikeda clarified the current situation in Japan by referring to the survey results under the theme of “Challenges of Women’s Work in Japan - Toward Reform of Men’s Way of Working.” He highlighted the fact that Japanese legal policies related to men’s and women’s ways of working still tolerate long working hours, although they have aimed at a good balance between work and family since the 1980s. Mr. Ikeda explained problems facing female part-timers and the increase in the number of persons who leave their jobs for nursing care. Toward the reform of men’s and women’s ways of working, he put forward the following suggestions: ① job opportunities opened to all women; ② Men’s way of working: restructuring of attractive career models. His concluding remarks were “men for family, and women for work.”
Mr. Shingo Ikeda
Based on her diverse experience in joining the United Nations Development Program to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries, Ms. Asako Osaki facilitated and guided the complicated themes addressing what is needed for the advancement of women so that discussions could be further deepened. The keynote speaker, Ms. Appel, also joined in the discussions, and heated talks continued.
Ms. Asako Osaki
In the question and answer session, a number of questions came from the participants, and active discussions were conducted. Ms. Appel was asked about the current status associated with childcare in Denmark, where more than 97 percent of children attend nursery school, the male to female ratio/wages of nursery school teachers, actual support for single mothers. When answering some questions, she stressed that education is the most important factor for gender equality and provided young women with appropriate advice that women should develop their careers and become economically independent.
Mr. Ikeda was asked a fundamental question about what is necessary for men to change their way of working and answered that it is necessary to increase the number of regular employees and make tireless efforts to make workplaces/companies more comfortable places to work for everyone.
Through the lectures and discussions, this was a fruitful seminar which could implicitly show us the future direction of Japan.
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