On March 8, TOMODACHI alumna and former USJC intern Miku Yoshiba hosted an International Women’s Day event for the Washington, DC & Vicinity region. Twelve women, including USJC members and TOMODACHI alumni, attended for an evening of food, networking and inspiring conversations.
Ms. Yoshiba organized the event to create an opportunity for women to enjoy time away from their daily busy life by exchanging opinions and dinner with other female members of the USJC community, as well as to collect new insights and feedback for her master’s thesis, which focuses on women’s empowerment. As her project, she hopes to design a method to unlock the hidden potential for Japanese women who live in rural areas.
At the beginning of the event, USJC Program Director Shane Graves introduced the history, mission and activities of the U.S.-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Initiative. Next, Ms. Yoshiba presented personal insights about empowering women, and shared some of the lessons she has learned as a graduate student at Keio University and Politecnico di Milano.
During the event, attendees offered personal responses to three important questions about their experiences as women and what empowerment means to them:
- What kind of gender inequality have you experienced in your life? What are other factors limiting opportunities and options for women?
- Do you feel there are any differences between the U.S. and Japan or within different regision of your country, in the way women are treated by others and how women act at work and home? What are they?
- Do you think society should provide more support for women? What kind of support is needed to help women achieve their goals?
Participants, who came from various backgrounds as Japanese, Japanese American and non-Japanese American women, exchanged answers in groups. They also considered how geographical region, profession and industry, age and other factors can affect one’s own experience with gender inequality. When sharing thoughts on how society can empower women, the group was concerned about women’s healthcare and work policies, especially for new mothers, and the importance of female representation for girls. “There is gender inequality in our society,” said one of the attendees. “But women also tend to have unconscious biases about their capabilities – that they are not as smart as male peers.”
The event was filled with enthusiastic conversations that went late into the evening. It was a huge success to celebrate the International Women’s Day and reflect on life as women and how we can bring out the best in current, aspiring and the next generation of female leaders.
Thank you to Miku Yoshiba for the above content!