IGWS Newsletter Vol. 39

  • Report on the 30th IGWS Seminar at Aichi Shukutoku University
  • Students' Feedback on the 30th IGWS Seminar
  • Students' Feedback on the debrief session of the Asian Health Institute (AHI), "Bangladesh: Empowering Women in the Future"
  • Essays from Alumni "Embarrassment over Marshmallows"
  • Reflections on gender based on my own experience
  • The 8th Annual Symposium on Graduation theses and Graduation projects about gender
  • Announcement of the 5th Lecture Series

Report on the 30th IGWS Seminar at the ASU

"Women in the UN and Various Countries" (Speaker:Ms. Makiko Arima. President of the Japan Division of the National Committee for Women in the UN)

 On November 13, IGWS held a lecture in honor of Ms. Makiko Arima. Ms. Arima talked about four topics and introduced some anecdotes from her vast experience and knowledge.

 Firstly, Ms. Arima referred to Ms. Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner in 2014, directing our attention to the fact that throughout the world there are still many women who are deprived of educational opportunities due to their gender.

 Secondly, Ms. Arima talked about the history of women’s promotion both inside and outside of Japan. In 1975, Ms Arima had been working in a TV station and covered the first World Conference of Women held in Mexico. Then she attended the 4th World Conference of Women as a representative of the government in 1995.

 Subsequently, Ms. Arima explained about the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). From its establishment in 1945, the UN originally dealt with issues such as women’s suffrage or the minimum age requirements for marriage and so on. In 2011, the UN Women combined with four other organizations that are concerned with issues that women face.

 Finally, Ms. Arima finished her speech by presenting some strategies to promote women’s rights while confronting each nation’s traditions, culture, and religion. In light of the UN’s previous record, we need patience as well as continuous, steadfast effort for many years to come.

"Embarrassment over Marshmallows"

Ms. Yukie Goto, a graduate of ASU, contributed an article reflecting on her undergraduate days.

 I graduated from the Department of Japanese Language and Literature at Aichi Shukutoku Junior College (later ASU) in 1995. The class I took during the second term of my freshman year, "Creative Writing" offered students many opportunities to write different genres such as haiku, tanka (Japanese short poems), novels, fairy tales, and screenplays. Since the class was very interesting, I began composing modern tanka after that.

 In the class, I was fascinated by some Japanese short poems created by Michihiko Muraki when he was around 20 years old. I was moved by the fact that the language of his poems conveyed the same sense of frustration and irritation that I also felt.

 One of his works left a particularly strong impression on me. It was a song about unrequited love where he imagined the girl he loved telling her friends about him while eating "marshmallows." When I first read it, I felt extremely ashamed that such a young man used "marshmallows" as a metaphor for his lost love. Now I think that at that time I was too young and self-conscious as a female college student to enjoy my youth.

Reflections on gender based on my own experience

Prof. Tomoko Suzuki of the Department of Health and Medical Sciences at ASU contributed an article about her own experience of childrearing.

 Both my husband and I have raised two boys while working full-time. I was very fortunate that my husband became an ikumen (a recent buzzword that refers to "nurturing-men") and was actively involved with childcare. Nevertheless, the gender division of labor in my family was a bit unequal. I would like to reflect on my experience and feelings from a decade ago.

 Our children started going to a nursery school before they turned one. While working as a speech therapist, I somehow managed to bring them to and from the nursery every day. However, there were times when work prevented me from doing this, so I had to ask my husband to take over the job. Although we divided housework and childcare to the extent that some of my friends were envious of his domestic contributions, he seemed disgruntled. I managed to control my emotions and not say, "I don't want to have to twist your arm to do these things." I wondered why it was me who had to ask him to do these things. Why should I always have to thank him? Why is he the one who is always appreciated, and I am the one expressing appreciation to him? Doesn't this seem unfair?

 I was going to ask some friends for some domestic support during a business trip, but my husband insisted that he would take care of the children. Of course it was because he didn’t want to bother other people with private family matters, but it also seems to me that he intentionally played the role of a father who compensates for a negligent mother. I felt that he had unconscious stereotypes about gender roles and felt that mothers are supposed to do childcare.

 That was ten years ago and now ikumen are well-known. I still wonder if the situation has really changed. Based on the news coverage I have seen, change occurs gradually rather than rapidly.

The 8th Annual Symposium on Graduation theses and Graduation projects about gender

 The meeting was held on January 19, 2015. This year there was one thesis from the Faculty of Letters and one from the Faculty of Business. The names of the students and their theses are as follows:

  • HANEDA, Sachi. Faculty of Letters, Department of English Language and Literature. "A Study on 'Purity' in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urdervelles"
  • SHIMOMURA, Yoshiki. Faculty of Media Theories and Production, Media Communication Specialization. "Voice of Hope Project"
  • NAKAGAWA, Arisu. Faculty of Business, Department of Business. "Gender-neutral Marketing"

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