International Cooperation

NWEC Global Seminar

Event Report

FY2017 NWEC Global Seminar: Promotion for Advancement of Women Lessons from Germany

Date:December 7, 2017

Place:Shufu Kaikan Plaza F

National Women's Education Center of Japan will hold 2017 NWEC Global Seminar featuring "Promotion for Advancement of Women Lessons from Germany". A German expert of gender equality policy will give a keynote speech.

Applications for 2017 NWEC Global Seminar are now closed.


Triggered by unification of East and West Germany, Germany has pushed ahead with various gender equality initiatives since the 1990s. Germany and Japan face various common issues, including the need to promote support for women’s long-term employment and measures to foster a work-life balance, and a growing gender-gap in an aging society. Gender equality policies adopted by Germany hereto offer numerous suggestions for Japan in terms of implementing positive action in both political fields and private enterprises. For the 2017 NWEC Global Seminar, we have invited an expert from Germany to join us to discuss what Japan can learn from Germany’s experience.


Promotion for Advancement of Women Lessons from Germany


National Women’s Education Center of Japan

4.Supported by

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany


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


Thursday, December 7, 2017 13:00-16:30


Japanese and English (simultaneous interpretation)


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


Keynote Speech Title: “Unfinished Business – Gender Equality in the 21st Century The German Case”

  Ms. Ulrike Helwerth
       Advisor for International Gender Equality Policy at the Deutscher Frauenrat
       (National Council of German Women's Organizations)

Panel Discussion: “Promoting Women’s Participation in Private Sectors”

  Ms. Ulrike Helwerth
  Dr. Karen Shire
       Visiting Professor, Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University
       Professor, University Duisburg-Essen
  Ms. Noriko Morikawa
       Executive Vice President and Director of Bosch Corporation 

  Dr. Sachiyo Onishi
       Professor, Ritsumeikan University

10.How to Apply and Application Deadline

①How to apply

a) E-mail
  Please send the following information to
  (Please ensure to make your message title”2017 NWEC Global Seminar”.)

  1) Name 2) Postal code and address 3) Telephone number 4) Facsimile number
  5) E-mail address 6) Affiliation

b) Facsimile
  Please download an application form below and fax it to 0493-62-9034.

②Application Deadline: Monday, December 4th, 2017

  NWEC will issue a confirmation note to the applicants of the seminar.

11.Participation Fee

Free of charge

On Thursday, December 7th, 2017, the National Women’s Education Center of Japan hosted the 2017 NWEC Global Seminar under the theme of “Promotion for Advancement of Women – Lessons from Germany” at Shufu Kaikan Plaza F (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo), where active discussions among over 80 participants took place.

The keynote speaker for Part I, Ms. Ulrike Helwerth, the International Gender Equality Policy Advisor of the National Council of German Women’s Organizations, gave a comprehensively detailed report concerning initiatives taken in Germany to promote gender equality, entitled “Unfinished Business – Gender Equality in the 21st Century: The German Case.” She primarily explained the current situation of labor, disparity, and leadership, and emphasized that “gender equality is a prerequisite for a fair and sustainable society, which bears gender democracy in its mind and heart.”

Ms. Helwerth has long worked as the Communications Director for the National Council of German Women’s Organizations, and since 2015, has advised the international community on trends of gender equality policies as well as participated in lobbying activities. From such an active background, she clarified Germany’s present condition. The problems she brought up were wide-ranging, including education, women in the labor market, the gender pay gap, leadership quotas in politics, and violence against women. There were detailed explanations of legal actions which built up the roots of gender equality policies in Germany, such as establishment of childcare facilities targeting all children, parental allowances, and paid holidays to provide nursery care for other family members. Moreover, in conclusion, she sent a powerful message that equality is something that requires effort, we are only halfway there, and that consistent initiatives are indispensable.

alt Part I Keynote speech delivered by Ms. Ulrike Helwerth

The Part II panel discussion, under the theme of “Promoting Women’s Participation in Private Sectors,” was an enthusiastic report and debate. The current state and challenges faced by Germany are highly suggestive to Japanese society. Regarding the situation of initiatives in the Japanese private sector, the current state and problems were made clear from the standpoint that diversity has been promoted within organizations.

Dr. Karen A. Shire, who belongs to two institutes; the Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University and the Institute of Sociology and Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen, introduced “What causes Gender Inequalities in Work and Employment? Germany and Japan in Comparison,” which is centered on the contrast between the two countries.

She indicated similarities between Germany and Japan, and rationalized them by labor and employment based on detailed data from the perspective of looking into problems they can learn from each other. Despite systematic differences of Germany having socially democratic ideology at its base, while conversely Japan, at its foundation, being a liberal marketplace, she figured out the similarity is that both are conservative, familial welfare countries. Concerning how economic activities are gendered in Germany, she, based on the data, explained the current condition of a high participation rate of women in the workforce, and a 40% rate of women working as part-time employees. As there is no demonstration of female leadership in the economic realm, nor progress of reform in masculine corporate culture reigns, she pointed out as the future challenges that women’s participation in the political realm is not moving forward.

alt Dr. Karen Shire

Ms. Noriko Morikawa, Executive Vice President of Bosch Corporation, from the standpoint of strongly promoting women’s active participation, introduced concrete examples of Bosch Japan’s activities under the theme “Promoting Women’s Participation in Private Sectors.” Main examples of those activities included holding lectures and/or panel discussions targeting female engineers and their superiors, conducting diversity trainings aimed at senior management positions, as well as training aimed at those returning from maternity leave and their superiors. She especially left the impression that they listen to their employees’voices and are making efforts that properly reflect their needs. She also introduced details of one more initiative Bosch has been putting energy into worldwide since 2014: International Diversity Day. In Japan, they offered speeches by male lecturers that males want to hear which would touch hearts of male managers, open discussion with males experienced with paternal leave, team activity presentations, and provided diversity special menus at canteen. These activities based on diverse yet innovative ideas were very interesting.

alt Ms. Noriko Morikawa

The coordinator, Dr. Sachiyo Onishi, as a specialist on gender in the context of law and policy, neatly arranged difficult questions as to what should be done, or how something can be done to make rapid progress for women’s active participation hereafter. Based on her logic-constructed leadership, the debate, which searched for solutions, even further intensified.

alt Dr. Sachiyo Onishi

Keynote speaker Ms. Helwerth also joined and carefully answered many enthusiastic questions from the floor.

alt PartⅡ Panel Discussion

In the question and answer section, questions covering much ground came one after another, resulting in an active discussion.

The questions continued, to Ms. Helwerth regarding the current situation of part time workers, fathers taking paternity leave, and the taxation system; to Dr. Shire regarding issues and results of quota systems; and to Ms. Morikawa, regarding the realities of returning from maternity leave and diversity programs. Among the answers were for women to excel, and how it is important for them to continue to work; quota systems being merely a single tool, and not to be considered a silver bullet; as well as both men and women needing to overcome the tendency to lose self-confidence due to unconscious bias. They served as topics to consider in the future and concluded the seminar.

alt Interactive discussion with the floor

Through the keynote address, panel discussion, and question and answer session with participants, it was understood that advanced and abundant initiatives taken by Germany, which has led to gender equality and women’s participation are highly suggestive to the Japanese society of today. It was a meaningful seminar, which made clear Japan’s future direction.

International Cooperation