International Cooperation

NWEC Global Seminar

Event Report

FY2019 NWEC Global Seminar: Gender and Media

Date:December 6th, 2019

Place:Shufu Kaikan Plaza f B2F Clarte

National Women's Education Center of Japan will hold 2019 NWEC Global Seminar featuring "Gender and Media". An American Expert of gender equality policy will give a keynote speech.

1. Objectives

2019 NWEC Global Seminar focuses on gender and media. The media can play a significant role in either perpetuating or challenging social norms that condone gender discrimination and stereotypes in society. For example, women only hold 27% of top management positions based on a study in 59 countries (Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media, 2011), and stories evoking gender (in)equality issues reported in newspaper, radio and television remain 9% (Global Media Monitoring Report: Who Makes the News?, 2011). Internet user gender gap worldwide reaches to 12% (ICT Facts and Figures 2017).

Social media could become a transformative platform for social change including promoting gender equality. Innovation in ICTs enabled women to disseminate their voices and opinions to wider public. On the other hand, new types of violence against women are emerging such as revenge porno and on-line harassment against violence survivors.
In the seminar, experts from U.S.A and Japan would be invited to discuss roles of media to promote women’s empowerment and gendered representation in media in two countries.

2. Theme

Gender and Media

3. Organizer

National Women’s Education Center of Japan

4. Supported by

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)
Embassy of the United States of America

5. Venue

Clarte, B2F, Plaza F , 6-15 Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

6. Date

Friday, December 6, 2019 13:00-16:30

7. Languages

Japanese and English
(simultaneous interpretation available, consecutive interpretation for keynote speech)

8. Capacity

80 people
(media experts, business people, researchers, administrative officers involved in gender equality, staff of women’s facilities, staff at embassies in Japan, leaders of women’s organizations)

9. Program

Part 1 Keynote Speech “Getting Intersectionality Right in Media”

Ms. Madeline Di Nonno
Chief Executive Officer, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media*

*Founded by Academy-Award® winning actor and advocate Geena Davis in 2004, The Institute is the first and only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence content creators, corporations and audiences to eliminate unconscious bias, achieve gender balance, challenging stereotypes, creating an abundance of intersectional female characters in entertainment and media that targets children ages 11 and under.

Panel Discussion
“Women’s Empowerment and Role of Media”

Ms. Madeline Di Nonno
Ms. Kaoru Nemoto, Executive Director, United Nations Information Centre
Ms. Reiko Aoki, Visiting Researcher, National Women’s Education Center of Japan
Coordinator: Dr. Toko Tanaka, Professor, Otsuma Women’s University

10. How to Apply and Application Deadline

①How to apply

①How to apply
a) E-mail
Please send the following information to
(Please ensure to make your message title”2019 NWEC Global Seminar”.)

b) Facsimile
Please download an application form NWEC website and fax it to 0493-62-9034.
1) Name 2) Postal code and address 3) Telephone number 4) Facsimile number 5) E-mail address 6) Affiliation

②Application Deadline Monday, December 2nd, 2019
③Confirmation NWEC will issue a confirmation note to the applicants of the seminar.

11. Participation Fee

Free of Charge

On Friday, December 6th, 2019, the National Women’s Education Center of Japan hosted the 2019 NWEC Global Seminar under the theme of “Gender and Media” at Shufu Kaikan Plaza f (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), where active discussions among over 100 participants from home and abroad took place.

Part 1 Keynote Speech


The keynote speaker for Part I, Ms. Madeline Di Nonno, the Chief Executive Officer, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (headquartered in Los Angeles), gave a comprehensively detailed report entitled “Getting Intersectionality Right in Media.”

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is a non-profit organization established by actor Ms. Geena Davis in 2004, and it is the only entity in the media entertainment industry that bases their action on data-driven research and study.

alt Part I Keynote Address (Ms. Madeline Di Nonno)

At the beginning of the keynote address, Ms. Nonno said that media exerts a massive influence on our set of values, and pointed out that women are bereft of an opportunity to make an appearance in entertainment and media, referring to an example that the male-to-female ratio of characters are 2 to 1 despite the fact that 51% of the population is female. She reported on the present situation where media consumption by children engaging with media for more than 7 hours a day makes a substantial impact on their mental health, resulting in a 52% increase in major depression in adolescents. She also pointed out that sexualization of women in media lead to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression among girls.

In order to improve the present situation, Ms. Nonno mentioned that it is possible to generate positive influence by correcting on-screen portrayals, showing the results of an in-depth research on gender gap in characters, how female characters are shown as leaders, descriptions of races and disabilities, and so on. She also indicated that the box-office data shows that female led movies do well at the box office, and that family movies with white/people of color co-leads rank at the top of the box-office chart; the box-office performance of movies with white leads is 7.8 billion yen on average while that of with white/people of color co-leads movies is 25.4 billion yen on average. Based on these results, she suggested that introducing gender and diversity perspectives to media and entertainment areas leads to a way to overcome the present situation. Concrete ways for that end include adding specific information to briefs, scripts and casting; replacing first names of male characters by female first names; including races, sexual orientation, disabilities, and so on.

She posed questions such as “Does the female character have agency?”, “Are they hypersexualized?”, “Do they have a sense of humor?” and so on, and ended her speech with specific recommendations including adoption of story writers and directors with diversified backgrounds, equal distribution of marketing resources, stories that reflect experiences of the broader population, and diversification of minor characters.

Part II Panel Discussion

alt Part II Panel Discussion

The Part II panel discussion, responding to the Part I keynote address, consisted of three reports and debates under the theme of “Women’s Empowerment and Role of Media.”

“Is There ‘Intersectionality’ in Japanese Media?” by Dr. Tohko Tanaka (Professor, the Faculty of Language and Literature, Otsuma Women’s University) began with the definition of intersectionality as a keyword. Dr. Tanaka said that since the 1990s, the trend called “post-feminism” emerged, and a new generation of women, who criticize the limits of second wave feminisms while accepting its results, are creating a new current of feminism while placing emphasis on the concept of “intersectionality”. Black and colored feminists who had criticized the white-centrism and the middle-class aspects of second wave feminism opened up a new perspective that leads to an intersectional approach, through efforts and engagement in gender discrimination issues, racism, economic disparities, and so on. This is a word that emphasizes the importance of analyzing the power relationships through the thicket of various identities such as race, class, sexuality, age, various disabilities and so on, and introduced by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.

alt Dr. Tohko Tanaka

She said that the keynote address was delivered under a new concept of “intersectionality” like this, and verifies it as proven data. Looking back on the situations in Japan, Japan is more than 20 years behind in its approach to the theme of “gender and intersectionality” in media. Regarding why the existing media in Japan lack gender perspectives, Dr. Tanaka cited three factors: (1) Problem of gender structure of people engaged in media industries – what adverse effects are being caused in Japanese media culture where not only “intersectionality” but even “gender equality” has not been achieved; (2) The gap between contents made by media producers and women who receive them comes up to the surface through SNS; and (3) During the period from 2015 to 2019, many women responded with sharp criticism to the representations of women in advertisements of local governments and corporate enterprises.

As a result, advertisements that emphasize stereotyped gender roles as well as those that are suggestive of the commercialization of women, and videos and posters using adult video methods are released one after another. It happens repeatedly that they come under fire one after another and get withdrawn, but soon, new ones appear. Dr. Tanaka pointed out that not only private companies but also highly public organizations like local governments and universities tend to produce such PR videos.

As a new direction, Dr. Tanaka said that, responding to the “#metoo” movement, #kutoo” is spreading and protest against rules that force women to wear pumps at the workplace has begun, and concluded her presentation with a prediction that such movements will spread widely in the future.

Following Dr. Tanaka, “UN Communications and Gender Equality” by Ms. Kaoru Nemoto (Director, United Nations Information Centre) began with the introduction of the United Nations Information Centre. The centre is under the direct control of the UN Headquarters in New York, and it has been serving as a bridge between Japan and the United Nations since its establishment in 1958.

alt Ms. Kaoru Nemoto

The United Nations is promoting the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” set as an action plan for “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted as an outcome document of the “United Nations Sustainable Development Summit” (held in 2015 at the UN Headquarters in New York). The SDGs consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets aim to promote three aspects – economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection – in an integrated fashion, and Ms. Nemoto emphasizes that the promotion of gender equality, which is one of the cross-sectoral issues, is an important factor in achieving the series of goals.

Four years have passed since the adoption of the SDGs. Checking on the progress of the 5th goal – gender equality, while a degree of progress has been made in women’s participation in politics, a mountain of problems still remain such as violence against women and child marriage. In order to eliminate unconscious gender bias that still remains deeply rooted in society, education from an early age is the key. During the presentation, Ms. Nemoto showed a video in which female characters specially created by the United Nations in popular Thomas the Tank Engine teach children about the SDGs and gender equality in plain words as a part of an outreach program for preschool children.

The last report was “Women’s Empowerment Through Media” by Ms. Reiko Aoki (Visiting Researcher, Information Division, National Women’s Education Center).

alt Ms. Reiko Aoki

Recently, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial “Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution” and many other museums, monuments and memorial halls have been built. But, Ms. Aoki questioned whether women’s records such as truth teller projects and experience sections are kept there, and followed the energetic activities women engaged in after the disaster. PhotoVoice Project, which was set up after the Great East Japan Earthquake, supports activities of women affected by the Earthquake to record and disseminate disaster experiences through photos and “voices (messages)” from various perspectives for the purpose of achieving locally-driven recovery. They disseminate disaster experiences through exhibitions and Internet. Participants bring photos and talk about them in groups. Through discussions, they gain a deeper understanding about their own perspectives as well as perspectives of people around them, and issues of local community as well as those of the entire society. Also, as another effort to scoop up voices of disaster-affected women, Ms. Aoki introduced the lecture “My stories told through embroidery – Memories of the Great East Japan Earthquake” organized by NPO Equal Net Sendai.

Since women’s activities to record disasters have significant meaning in supporting empowerment of women who experienced disasters, Ms. Aoki proposes that it is urgently needed that those who have no means to raise voices get together to unearth various community and social issues, share them, empower each other, and disseminate them to reach solution.

Toward the realization of a sustainable media system, she emphasized the following six aspects to conclude the presentation:
(1) Importance of experiences of disaster victims;
(2) Consideration to diverse people;
(3) Importance of incorporating gender perspectives into reconstruction/disaster prevention policies;
(4) Visualization of disaster process;
(5) Promotion of gender equality in peacetime forms the foundation for disaster prevention and reconstruction;
(6) Cooperation with mass media and action groups that have gender perspectives.

It turned out to be an energetic seminar where participants engaged in lively discussions to grasp the new concept of “intersectionality” multidirectionally.

Seminar Handouts

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