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FY2023 Training Course to Promote Gender Equality for Leaders

NWEC held a training course for leaders who promote gender equality from May 16 to June 12, 2023 (partly co-hosted by The National Council of Women's Centers), with the theme of "Building a Sustainable Community from a Gender Perspective." There were 437 participants, including leaders, managers, and directors from women's facilities, local governments, and groups across Japan. This course included a keynote address based on this year's theme, a policy explanation by the national government, a briefing session on actual projects, and a panel discussion. Participants learned the latest information and actual cases on gender equality shared in the course, and had the opportunity to think about how to ascertain and tackle their regional situations and issues.

Prof. Nobuko Nagase (Ochanomizu University), who studies the relations between labor, family formation, and social institutions, delivered the keynote address, titled "Gender Equality—Future Policies for a Sustainable Society." In the first half, Prof. Nagase explained reasons why it is necessary to provide support for young people and children. In the second half, she showed many statistical data and illustrated the relations between the modern-day labor market, social security, falling birthrate, and the gender pay gap."

In the panel discussion, three people who have been taking measures from a gender-equal perspective in their worksites, such as a neighborhood association, a local government, and a gender equality center, shared their practices and efforts, as well as emerging results and issues with participants. After that, the panelists exchanged their opinions and answered questions from the participants.

Besides these programs, the national government's latest measures and collaborations between gender equality centers and related organizations were also shared during the training course. A lecture was given on actual cases to resolve three urgent, present-day issues common to all regions: participation of young generations and women; resolving the poverty of middle-aged, single women in non-regular employment; and changes in men's work style and lifestyle.

Participants made comments on this course, saying "I was able to understand various issues related to promoting gender equality from multiple angles," and "I was very inspired and realized that I need to review my work and restructure that process."

Women's Archives Center Collection Exhibit, "History of Working Women"

In fiscal 2022, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare donated to NWEC roughly 4,500 materials, including reports, brochures, and posters, that had long been owned by the Center for the Advancement of Working Women (CAWW).

CAWW was founded in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in January 2000 by the then Labor Ministry as an institution to support working women. The center had a hall, seminar rooms, a library, exhibit rooms, and consultation rooms. The center carried out their activities comprehensively based on six pillars: empowerment, consultation, library, exhibition, information, and interaction.

In the exhibition area, there was an exhibition called "History of Working Women," where scale models and photos are used to show the paths that working women have taken since the end of the 19th century and their daily lives. The center also had an exhibition called "History of Administrative Policies Concerning Working Women" that presented a variety of informational materials on administrative policies related to working women after 1947 when the Ministry of Labor was established.

In October 2010, the government's budget screening concluded that CAWW should be closed. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare decided to close CAWW at the end of March 2011. In April of that year, CAWW relaunched as the “Women's employment support center.” In 2014, a public employment office (Hello Work) was placed in the Women's employment support center and the exhibition room was closed. After the closure of the library in March 2022, a collection of administrative materials such as brochures, leaflets, posters, wall newspapers, and reports, which had long been stored and provided by the library, were handed over to NWEC in 2022.

Using these materials, the Women's Archives Center held an exhibition called "History of Working Women," from May 17 (Wed.), 2023 to March 10 (Sun.), 2024. The exhibition traced the history of working women from the postwar period to the present day.

FY2023 Training Course for Counselors and Managers at Women's Centers

NWEC held a training course for counselors and staff members in charge of counseling service at women's centers, and workers in charge of counseling service at local governments from June 20 to August 26, 2023. This year's course was comprised of two sections: the online basic training section aimed at teaching the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to provide counseling service and the face to-face step-up training section aimed at teaching counseling service and management from a gender perspective and how to handle difficult cases. In total, 650 people participated in the basic training section and 48 people in the step-up section.

In the basic training section, participants learned how the Act on Support for Women in Difficult Situations was legislated and how they should support women in counseling ahead of the enforcement of the act next year. They also deepened their understanding on how to identify regional issues and needs from individual consultations and reflect them in their service and administrative measures, as well as the significance of this process. They actively exchanged information on many different themes, such as how to provide counseling, counseling via social media, issues and good ideas on male clients, and how to secure and train skilled people.

The step-up training section was carried out face-to-face so that participants can learn how to manage counseling service from a gender perspective and to acquire the skills to deal with difficult cases. In this section, they were able to focus on learning, interact actively, and share their opinions and knowledge on their daily service with other participants and lecturers, by making full use of this face-to-face opportunity.

From their daily concerns on how to deal with individual counseling cases and flaws in their organizations' systems, to changes in society such as amendments of laws, participants were able to talk about various issues and establish relations that could last even after the training course. They said they were satisfied with the outcome of this training course. "This course specialized in the management of counseling service at women's centers, which was very rare. It was good to get a lot of information that was unavailable online and to make many connections through face-to-face interaction," one participant said. Another also said, "I learned many technical things and realized many things through my interaction with people from different organizations and shared the same concerns with them. I'm glad I joined the course."

FY2023 Gender Equality Training for Teachers and Staff

From July 25 to September 25, 2023, NWEC held a training course for directors and committee members of school boards, members of boards of education or education centers, school managers, and school staff, with the theme of "Aiming to Promote Women to Managerial Positions." The aim of this course was to give our society momentum to encourage women to participate in the decision-making process in the field of school and education. There were 431 participants from across the country.

In school education, the proportion of women in management positions is growing, but it is not high enough. In addition, it varies depending on the region and type of school. In the training course, lecturers with rich experience and expertise explained why it was necessary to encourage women to hold executive positions now, as well as the basic principle of gender equality and the role of schools and school staff in creating a gender-equal society. They also mentioned several challenges, such as barriers that women faced when they try to build their careers at school or in the field of education and an entrenched notion of fixed male and female roles behind the lack of female leaders.

In the round-table talk, panelists discussed how to build an organization where diverse workers display their abilities, foster female leaders, and promote them to management positions, emphasizing the significance of women's participation in the decision-making process. Following the round-table talk, participants were divided into groups and discussed advantages of having women in management positions and the support and process needed to increase the number of female leaders, from three perspectives: the reform of working style and review of conventions, balancing work and life and supporting women's career growth, and the workplace climate and personnel training.

For the rest of the training course, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology shared information on personnel training and career growth at schools and on organizational reform, while boards of education spoke about their attempts. Lecturers also shared the viewpoints needed to approach issues at schools going forward and actual cases.

A participant commented, "I was inspired to make more efforts to promote a reform of the school climate and working style, raise female teachers' awareness, and enhance their motivation."

"It's a shame not to know about it! Summer Seminar on How to Research Gender-Related Information"

NWEC held a seminar titled "It’s shame not to know about it! Summer Seminar on How to Research Gender-Related Information" on September 7 and 8, 2023. The aim of this seminar was to provide younger generations with support for study and learning because they are expected to play a vital role in promoting gender equality. The seminar was designed to teach them how to do research and find documents when they write reports and theses on gender-related issues. In total, 24 university
students and graduate students participated in this seminar.

On the first day of the seminar, participants were guided to find books and documents at the Information Center for Women’s Education and the Women's Archives Center. And a lecture and a consultation on different themes were given to teach them how to write reports and theses on gender. In the exchange meeting, they shared documents what they found and had a relationship. On the second day, they made a worksheet they had collected and gave presentations.

From the participants who made positive comments, "It was a meaningful seminar because I was able to exchange opinions with people my age who are interested in gender issues.", "Thanks to this seminar, I was able to collect many gender-related documents."

FY2023 Training on Gender Responsive Approach to Disaster Management

NWEC held the FY2023 Training on Gender Responsive Approach to Disaster Management, with the theme of "Making Your City Disaster-resistant—Connecting Diverse Actors for Local Disaster Prevention," from September 27 to November 13, 2023. There were 466 participants, including managers and workers from local governments and women's facilities who led disaster prevention measures in each region.

The basic training program held online started with a keynote address titled "What Diverse Viewpoints Are Needed for Disaster Prevention? — To Create a Society Where No One is Left Behind." In this speech, Visiting Professor at Kansai University of International Studies Yoko Saito, who studies disasters and recoveries from a gender perspective, explains several possible approaches to provide quality support while considering the different perspectives of each individual. After that, participants gradually learned about disaster prevention from the basic knowledge to effective problem-solving approaches through a lecture by the national government, a lecture based on actual cases, and an online exchange of opinions. It was a good opportunity for them to explore possible approaches while considering regional circumstances.

In a step-up training program, 50 members, who had also participated in the basic program, came to NWEC to learn practical skills and build a network of people in charge of disaster prevention.

There were several lectures about actual cases given by local governments and organizations. They included Izumiotsu City, Osaka Prefecture, which has continued to build relationships with local and private organizations and work together to construct a system suitable for its regional character, and the Japan NPO Center (JNPOC), which has provided support for disaster-stricken areas by making full use of their networks. After listening to the lectures, participants had a discussion using the World Café method to exchange information about the type of organizations they usually worked with and how they worked with them, and to share ideas on how to coordinate with diverse parties. After that, a drill to accept a diverse range of local evacuees at an evacuation site was carried out in the gymnastics hall. Participants learned how to behave in such situations, and to build and operate an ideal evacuation center where every evacuee was equally respected while considering what diversity is and how to ensure every evacuee's safety and security.

One participant said, "I was able to learn how to prepare disaster prevention measures daily from a gender-equal perspective."

Campaign to Promote a Movement to End Violence against Women

NWEC conducted a campaign in response to the Cabinet Office promoting a movement to end violence against women, from November 12 to 25, 2023.

This campaign was designed to raise public awareness of human rights and to encourage improvement in education, claiming that violence against women was a serious human rights violation and a critical problem to be solved in order to realize a gender-equal society.

The movement to end violence against women is also called the Purple Ribbon campaign, because the purple ribbon has become a symbol of this campaign to increase awareness about the unacceptability of all forms of violence against women.

As part of the campaign, NWEC illuminated its building in purple. NWEC volunteer staff members displayed a campaign banner and posters to call for the eradication of violence against women to a wider audience.

NWEC staff members conducted a running event called Purple Ribbon Run where participants ran wearing purple clothes and live-streamed the event to raise public awareness.

These campaign events were very inspiring and are expected to further expand in the coming years.

FY2023 Gender Equality Promotion Forum

NWEC held the FY2023 Gender Equality Promotion Forum from November 15 to December 21, 2023, with the aim of prompting participants engaging in gender equality promotion to interact regardless of region, organization, and discipline, and to create a wider network. While NWEC provided a keynote speech, 46 organizations that had publicly applied, such as gender equality centers across Japan, NPOs, NGOs, companies, university seminars, and groups of scholars, published online what they had achieved in their daily activities and studies. They were divided into eight groups by theme such as "expansion of women's participation in the policy and decision-making process," "education and media," "activities of gender equality centers," and "scientific technology and gender." Throughout the forum, diverse and quality programs were held with approximately 1,200 people taking part.

The keynote address was delivered online by Satoko Kishimoto, Mayor of Suginami Ward in Tokyo, on the theme of empowerment of women in the field of politics. Mayor Kishimoto used to work as a public policy researcher at an international non-governmental organization. After agreeing to a request by a citizens' group in Suginami Ward, she came back to Japan from Belgium where she had lived and worked, and ran for the mayoral election. She was determined to carry out an unprecedented election campaign and focused on solidarity and cooperation under the banner of "conversations with people." Gaining support from the majority of citizens, especially women, Mayor Kishimoto won the election in the summer of 2022 and became the first female leader in Suginami Ward. Showing video footages of her election campaigns, Mayor Kishimoto explained how supporters brought another like-minded cooperator, and called the process a "cycle of empowerment." After she became Suginami's mayor, she created many opportunities to get her citizens interested in the government, such as calling for people to vote to participate in Suginami’s politics directly by driving along the street. In the election for ward assembly members in 2023, not only did the overall voting rate increase, but roughly 30% of incumbents were replaced with challengers and the proportion of female members reached 50%. Mayor Kishimoto celebrated this achievement by saying, "Just a few percentages point increase in the voting rate has changed the political landscape."

In the latter half of the lecture, she explained ongoing projects for citizens to join, including a participatory budgeting process where citizens are allowed to directly take part in the crucial process of budgetary allocations, and a town meeting where participants think about what public facilities should be like.

Viewers seemed to be interested in Mayor Kishimoto's policy that focused on local sovereignty, respect for human rights, and gender equality, and sent many questions to her. Kishimoto responded to their questions and spoke about her opinions and future visions. In the viewers' questionnaires, one said, "The issue of women's participation in politics seemed to be difficult. But it is not a problem to be solved only by women. Thinking of younger generations and the distance between politicians and us, I feel that we need to make some changes in politics." "I realized that the community was able to change with a citizencentered policy," another said.

The keynote speech is available on NWEC's official YouTube Channel.

FY2023 Women's Empowerment Promotion Seminar

NWEC held the FY2023 Women's Empowerment Promotion Seminar with the theme of "Promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to Make Your Work More Fulfilling—New Working Styles That Open up the Future of Organizations" on November 17, 2023. There were 345 participants from across Japan, including workers in companies, government offices, and universities, as well as those in charge of promoting diversity, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.

In a briefing session of actual cases, participants from three companies, which had set out to train people and restructure their organizations, shared their effective strategies to improve the workers' sense of fulfillment and their outcomes. They said they made efforts to improve the workplace environment, let their executives give an order to change, and to overhaul the workplace culture as a project based on gender equality to promote diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I). They explained how they conducted in-company career-supporting training courses and study meetings, visualized each job as a module, introduced flexible working hours, and set up a harassment prevention committee.

In the round-table talk, participants held an enthusiastic discussion about barriers and resistance in offices when promoting DE&I, expenses to implement DE&I and executives' commitment, and how to deal with the claim that gender equality gives women privileges and creates reverse discrimination against men.

The coordinator summarized the discussion and presented these two issues that Japanese companies have to address immediately: (1) to ascertain the degree of unexplainable inequality and redress it, and (2) to defeat unconscious biases.

One participant said, "The seminar was useful. I could see how the companies have made great efforts. Before, a company that introduced a new system was regarded as advanced, but now, we are entering a phase where efforts with no results and benefits are not praised. I really feel that our society is changing. Someone pointed out that when people currently under 40 start to play a key role, our society will change remarkably. I'm looking forward to seeing it happen."

FY2023 Project Planning Training in Communities to Promote Gender Equality

NWEC held the FY2023 Project Planning Training in Communities to Promote Gender Equality from January 16 to February 13, 2024, for workers in charge of project planning and operation at government offices, women's facilities, and community centers. In this training course, participants were expected to learn the knowledge and skills to sort out regional issues and draw up a draft of a project (program design). There were 182 participants in the on-demand course that included various lectures, and those who wished to participate in the group work course had the option to do so. Some programs were distributed ondemand and others were live-streamed.

To carry out training and learning projects in your community effectively from a gender-equal perspective while promoting gender equality, it is important to plan, implement, and evaluate the projects.

In the lectures, NWEC staff members explained how to plan and carry out projects from a gender-equal perspective, as well as how to confirm today's gender-related issues and take possible measures to solve them, and how to get statistics and information on gender to properly identify local issues.

Mitsue Matsushita, President of the NPO Gender Equality Forum Shizuoka gave a lecture about "the art of planning, implementing, and evaluating learning programs," and shared knowledge about how to carry out projects based on her own experiences. In a briefing session about actual cases, two presenters, who had participated in the training course last year, shared their experiences of project planning and operation by making use of what they had learned last year. They also explained which part of the process they really struggled with and what they achieved.

The group work session was live-streamed every two weeks, for three times in total. Participants elaborated on their ideas and refined their plans, exchanging opinions with each other. Over the three weeks, by thoroughly working on the plans they wanted to achieve, they improved their project planning skills, widened their perspectives, and acquired experience and insight, thanks to advisers' and other participants' suggestions. On the final day of the course, all participants created extraordinarily elaborate programs. They shared their outcomes and praised one another on their great efforts.

Training Course for Women's Archives (Online)

NWEC conducted a Training Course for Women’s Archives to give those who collect women's archives an opportunity to learn useful knowledge and information, and to help them contribute to the formation of networks on women's archives.

The training session was live-streamed on January 11, 2024, and 19 people watched it live. The recorded event was available online from January 18 to February 18. In total, 146 people participated in this online training course.

The online training course started with a program titled "Preserve Women's History - From the Initiatives by Showa Living History Museum." The Showa Life History Museum is a repurposed ordinary house built in the suburbs of Tokyo in 1951. Furniture and household items that tell the history of Showa period (1926-1989) life are preserved and exhibited to the public. The lecturer Kazuko Koizumi, who was born in this house as the eldest daughter, opened this house to the public as a museum in 1999. Since then, she has served as the head of the museum and has held lectures, workshops, hands-on learning events, and exhibitions. Exhibitions titled "The Showa Period Where Housemaids Worked" and "Craftswomen in the Showa Period" illustrated women's occupations at that time. In the exhibitions of "The Age of Dressmaking," and "Kimono Clothing in the Showa Period," she showed many materials related to women's lifestyles that have died out, featuring the clothing revolution of the shift from kimono to Western clothing. She published the exhibition as a book and gave a lecture on recording and preserving women's history.

The reports on practical archival activities featured two organizations: the Osaka Gender-Equal Community Foundation, which was established in 1993 and marked its 30th anniversary in 2023, and the Niigata Women's History Club, which was founded in 1973 and marked its 50th anniversary last year. The Osaka Gender-Equal Community Foundation gave a lecture about their project of creating an archival book and moving image, called “OSAKA Women” to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The Niigata Women's History Club spoke about how they had published a chronological table of women's history in Niigata, by looking into newspaper articles on women from 1872 to 1959 and compiling the information into a book as fundamental data on women's history in Niigata.

In the lecture of "Archives and Copyright," the lecturer explained the basic knowledge on copyright and image right issues relating to digital archives.

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