- Event Report
FY2018 Seminar for Gender Equality Officers and Women Leaders in the Asia Region
Date：October 2 to 6, 2018
From October 2nd to October 6th, The National Women’s Education Center (NWEC) held the FY2018 Seminar for Gender Equality Officers and Women Leaders in the Asia Region on the topic of the empowerment of rural women and girls. Nine government officials and NGO leaders involved in the field of gender equality participated in the seminar representing five Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Vietnam). This seminar is held every year with specific emphasis on a global topic related to gender equality issues or women’s participation in society. This fiscal year’s seminar focused on learning about efforts being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Japan Agricultural Cooperatives to promote leadership by women farmers.
Arrival at the NWEC
While at NWEC, participants attended a lecture on the mission of the Center and its role as an institution promoting gender equality. They also visited the Information Center for Women’s Education and the Women’s Archives Center’s exhibition titled “Railways and Women: Move Railways and Move Society.” Furthermore, a report was presented on the “Survey on Early Career Formation and Career Advancement of Men and Women,” which has been carried out by researchers at the Office of Research & International Affairs since FY2015, and findings from the three-year panel survey were shared. Information was also provided on the “Forum on the Promotion of Gender Equality,” which has held in August, by staff of the NWEC Program Division.
Visiting the Information Center for Women’s Education
Visiting the Women’s Archives Center
On the second day of the seminar, country reports were presented. During the country report session, information was shared on the latest gender equality policies and issues involving the empowerment of women and girls in rural communities in the five Asian countries.
During their stay at NWEC, the seminar participants visited Garden Center Sunnyvale, which sells potted flowers, decorative plants, and gardening items in Yoshimi-machi, Saitama, in order to learn how a business with deep roots in the community is run. The assistant manager of the store, Ms. Midori Mamuro, talked to the participants. Based on her experiences studying in Denmark, Ms. Mamuro manages the store with the hopes of helping the culture of enjoying flowers in everyday life to take root in Japan as well. The seminar participants were particularly enthusiastic about taking pictures of the beautifully displayed seasonal flowers and hanging baskets in the spacious store.
At Garden Center Sunnyvale
At the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, seminar participants attended a lecture on efforts related to the promotion of gender equality in agriculture being undertaken by the Japanese government. The “Nōgyō Joshi Project” is a scheme that links the knowledge that women farmers have acquired in their daily lives, work, and interactions with the natural environment to the technologies, knowhow, and ideas of companies that support the aims of the projects in the hopes that those links lead to the development of new products and services. There was also a presentation on “family management agreements,” which specify the work environments that make it easy for each member of a family that is involved in a family run farm. During the question-and-answer session, the participants asked wide-ranging questions such as “How are companies for cooperation in the Nōgyō Joshi Project selected?”, “What kind of measures do you think are effective for increasing the number of households that enter into family management agreements?”, “How should assistance best be provided for people who want to get into farming for the first time?”, and many more.
At the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
For the second half of the seminar, the participants travelled to the city of Yamagata and joined study tours. JA Tendo Agricultural Cooperative founded a women’s committee in 1974 for the purpose of deepening mutual cooperation and friendship among members and of advancing the agricultural cooperatives movement. There are now 372 active members. In 2015, a subcommittee of young women farmers (Fresh Ms. subcommittee) was established, aiming to contribute to stable community development. The latter holds screenings of films related to dietary education and other events. After the lecture, the participants were treated to imoni (a stew made of taro and meat) and other local specialties, and they were able to get their fill of delicacies from the Tohoku region.
At JA Tendo
On the afternoon of the fourth day of the seminar, the group travelled to Naganuma Fruits Farm in the city of Kaminoyama, where they joined in an exchange of ideas and opinions with people involved in farming in Yamagata Prefecture. After receiving a briefing on the “Active Agri-women Program” by an extension specialist with the Agricultural Technology Section, Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Yamagata Prefecture, the participants heard from four women farmers who are members of the Nōgyō Joshi Project about how they got into farming and the issues they currently face. The ways in which these women got into farming are diverse, including marrying into a farming family, taking over the farms and orchards that their parents had run and starting new businesses, and becoming involved in farming when their husbands newly entered (the business). But through the discussions, issues that women farmers face became clear, such as having few opportunities to learn about new technologies or acquire specialized knowledge, having none to share concerns specific to women, and other such difficulties.
Interactive discussion with women farmers
On the final day of the seminar, participants visited the Yamagata City Gender Equality Center (Fala), where they learned about initiatives by women’s facilities in Japan. Fala offers courses on gender equality, operates a library, and runs a consultation program. After touring the Center, one participant commented that she was impressed by the “parent-and-child room” where people could join courses with pre-school children, the daycare facility, and other features of the Center that were designed to make it easier for visitors raising children to use.
At the Yamagata City Gender Equality Center (Fala)
After touring Fala, the seminar participants attended a lecture about the efforts of the Yamagata Prefectural Gender Equality Center (Cheria). Cheria runs a series of workshops called “Cheria Juku” around the prefecture as a program to develop women as human resources who will lead in gender equality issues in their communities. On that day of the seminar the participants observed the “review and reflection” session for the last day of the “Cheria Juku Practical Course” being held at Fala, and the participants were able to interact with the students of the course.
Observing Cheria Juku
Of the review and reflection session, participants had such comments as, “Through exchanging thoughts with women farmers, I learned how they are taking action to overcome all kinds of difficulties, and was very impressed by that,” “It was very beneficial to have the opportunity to observe a human resource development seminar for women,” and “I was particularly impressed by Fala’s user-friendly facilities.” After attending a closing ceremony for the seminar, the participants embarked on their journeys back to their home countries on October 7th.
At the closing ceremony
The outcome of this program is published now under the title of “2018 Leader Seminar Report,” which outlines best practices of support for rural women and girls in the participating countries and Japan.
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