Introduction—There is no development without empowerment of women

Introduction—There is no development without empowerment of women

Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, and communities. Women need to play an active role at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, to reshape the conversation, to make sure their voices are heard and heeded. Therefore, the private sector is a key partner in efforts to advance gender equality and empower women.

There is a big number of women who want to work with corporate Japan to offer them better opportunities. This is challenged by the battle between tradition and the rising demands of working women.

The empowerment is also strongly supported by the Japanese government. The upper house just recently approved legislation requiring companies with more than 300 employees to set numerical targets of female hires and managers.

Yet, Japan has a long way to be a gender equal nation. In a 2014 study on gender equality by the World Economic Forum, Japan placed 104th out of 142 nations surveyed.

Therefore, according to Prime Minister Abe, Japan will take actions to protect women’s rights and promote the empowerment of women in society. This will lead eventually to gender equality, development and peace through empowerment. One of the first steps to achieve that was opening of UN Women office in April last year, which makes Japan the first Asian nation to have such office. Tokyo office will step up efforts to build a stronger partnership with the government and the people of Japan.

The office also supports Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to improve the status of women both at home and abroad.

Japan will also push the agenda on women forward vigorously when it holds the presidency of a G-7 summit next year in May in Mie Prefecture.

The 21st century, accordingly to PM Abe is a century with no human rights violations against women.

As of December last year there were 20 female ambassadors in Japan, among which 7 from African countries. This is so far the biggest number ever in a history of diplomatic corps in Japan.

In the following section 8 portraits and 3 stories of women of different background and nationality will be featured in order to show successful struggles that each of them experienced to achieve their goals. In addition, women from around the world will answer the question: What does it mean to be a woman?

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