The Yomiuri ShimbunAbout 50 university students from 12 countries and regions discussed gender issues at the Global Next Leaders Forum (GNLF) international conference recently held in Tokyo.
Students from countries including Japan, Pakistan and Brazil participated in the conference held by GNLF, an organization of university students aspiring to be future leaders, with partnership assistance provided by The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Japan News.
Under the theme of gender, the participants discussed such issues as the culture of “ladies first,” how media should represent gender issues and life planning.
This year’s conference, held from Feb. 23 to March 1, was the seventh of its kind. The conference was held to build relationships to enable students to jointly tackle international issues in the future.
In her keynote speech on Feb. 23, Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer Yoshimi Nagamine noted that women’s rate of university enrollment in Japan is lower than men’s. She also talked about the central government’s target to lift the percentage of women in leadership roles to 30 percent by 2020.
During the seven-day conference, participants deepened their relationships through discussions and by visiting tourists spots such as the Asakusa district in Tokyo.
Students wrapped up their discussions on the final day of the conference. “[The custom of] ‘ladies first’ comes from structural inequality, but many men do it out of respect,” one participant said.
“Paying respect to diversity is an essential quality for global leaders,” another participant said.
“In the future, I’d like to utilize the relationships I’ve forged during this conference,” said GNLF President Hajime Fujita, 21, a student at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old student who studies tourism at a university in Hungary said, “I’d like to contribute to realizing gender equality through bringing together knowledge from various cultures.”Speech