By Ayako Ishiguro / Japan News Staff WriterAhead of International Women’s Day on March 8, a symposium on empowering working women was held in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday.
About 100 participants attended the three-hour event, which was organized by OTEKOMACHI, a website for working women run by The Yomiuri Shimbun, in cooperation with The Japan News.
Speakers included women from a variety of professional backgrounds who have encountered glass ceilings and other barriers in their working lives, among others.
During the event, U.N. Women Japan Liaison Office Director Kae Ishikawa explained that empowerment is about cultivating abilities in decision-making, option selection and negotiating.
“Thinking about what barriers are blocking your progress and what kind of ideas would help you to break through them is the first step toward empowerment,” she said.
Another speaker, ewoman Inc. Chief Executive Officer Kaori Sasaki, emphasized the importance of viewpoint diversity. She suggested three ways to be true to yourself in a diverse society: managing your time effectively, stating your opinions and developing good human networks. “If all [working] women make contributions in their companies, society and their companies will change for the better,” she said.
In the panel discussion session, five speakers discussed ways to maintain a good work-life balance among other topics. Sports commentator Ai Sugiyama recommended making wish lists.
“Lists help me to understand myself and my needs, and also to overcome some of the challenges I faced after retirement. Focusing on myself was crucial,” she said.
A 39-year-old female participant said: “I guess many women still don’t realize the fact that they face barriers. If opportunities such as today’s symposium increase, women would better understand those barriers and it might change society.”Speech