IGWS Newsletter Vol. 49

  • Report of the 38th IGWS Seminar
  • The Debrief Session of the Asian Health Institute (AHI), "From Fishing Villages in Sri Lanka: People who Create Peace”
  • The 13th Annual Symposium on Graduation Theses and Projects about Gender
  • Essay: “Working as a Single Mother”
  • Essay: “I Value My Name, so We Registered Our Divorce: the Reason I Commit to the Separate Surnames for Married Couples”

Report of the 38th IGWS Seminar: “A sex difference in the brain and society: scientific overview from the brain differences between women and men. Speaker: Yuko Yotsumoto (Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)

On November 19, we invited Yuko Yotsumoto to give a seminar.

 The following three points are important when considering scientific "differences". 1. Is it based on scientific evidence? 2. Is it generalizable? 3. Is there a causal relationship?
 Based on these criteria, a scientific examination of the popular theory regarding gender difference shows no proof that there are gender difference in the brain. For example, with respect to the myth that men have high spatial cognitive ability, the score variation by country is more significant than the difference in spatial cognition between men and women. In countries where there is a large gender gap, the spatial cognitive ability of men is also higher. In other words, the above difference is a gender difference caused by the social expectation that men should have high spatial cognitive ability.
 The human brain has more individual variation than male and female differences and is always affected by education and experience. The reality is that gender differences are minimal, but society is promoting a bias.
 "Neurosexism," which attributes most of the differences in behavior and thinking between men and women to gender differences in the brain, is becoming popular. There is a grave danger to cite neurosexism when speaking about gender equality. It is important to respect the individual differences and diversity of behaviors and thoughts without being confused by non-scientific neurosexism, and to promote education and a society that does not widen the gap.

The Debrief Session of the Asian Health Institute (AHI), "From Fishing Villages in Sri Lanka: People who Create Peace

 A briefing session was held on Tuesday, December 3 with the cooperation of AHI (Asia Health Training Institute). Two guests talked about the current situation in Sri Lanka and the regional development activities they have been working on, especially from the viewpoint of "youth and gender".
 Sri Lanka was devastated by the 26-year civil war and was severely damaged by the 2004 tsunami. The civil war, which ended in 2009, left 60,000 people missing and 80,000 widows were forces to live without their husbands and sons. In the midst of reconstruction, the government’s decision to promote initiatives such as offering lands to overseas companies completely ignored the will of the people and are not in citizens’ best interests.
 In Sri Lanka, the idea that women should devote themselves to housework and childcare remains strong. Even so, progress is gradually being made in the areas of making women financially independent and preventing children from turning to drugs and crime due to reasons such as poverty.

The 13th Annual Symposium on Graduation Theses and Projects about Gender

The 13th "Graduation Thesis / Graduation Production from a Gender Perspective" was held on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. The reporters and themes are introduced below.

TEZUKA, Miyabi. Faculty of Global Culture and Communication, Department of Global Culture and Communication
“Sexual Minorities in Heisei Literature and Contemporary Japanese Society”

MAEDA, Yuzuki. Faculty of Psychology, Department of Psychology
“A Study on Sexual Minorities: Focusing on Gender Equality Act”

Essay: “Working as a Single Mother”

Ms. Hiromi Miyakoshi, a former Associate Professor at ASU, Department of Literature, sent us an essay.

 About 15 years ago, I was sent as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer to Honduras in Central America. All my homestay experiences were in single-mother families.
 My role was to train elementary school teachers. I had 40 students every six months, and most of them were female. Most of them were single mothers, and they were doing housework and raising children while working. The school system in Honduras is a half-day system, one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Teachers could return home at noon and then return to school for the afternoon classes. There were also teachers who taught only in the morning and only in the afternoon. Therefore, teachers in Honduras can more easily raise children than their Japanese counterparts.
 Nevertheless, raising a child as a single mother is difficult. It's hard for a mother to support her family, including providing financial support, in Honduras, Japan, and anywhere in the world. In recent years, single mothers have become commonplace in Japan, but it is still difficult for a single mother to do housework, childcare, and work in a man-centered society. I am working as a single mother everyday and hoping that one day we can create an environment where women can raise children and fully participate in society.

Essay: “I Value My Name, so We Registered Our Divorce: the Reason I Commit to the Separate Surnames for Married Couples”

Ms. Yoshimi Kojima, Associate Professor at ASU, Department of Global Culture and Communication, sent us an essay.

 The "marital life" with my husband began in 2008. Naturally, I chose another surname. A long-awaited son was born in 2015, but my husband could not become a father on the family register unless the child’s parents were registered at birth, so he chose to adapt his wife's surname.
 My husband has experienced many inconveniences in life. On the other hand, I have had many derogatory words directed at me. We expected the Supreme Court to rule in 2015 that the single surname law for married couples was unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court declared, “Civil law provisions that do not allow married couples to have separate surnames and have the same surname do not violate the constitution.” I was very disappointed with the decision.
 At that time, I learned that even if I wasn't legally married, I could include my husband’s name on my resident's card and claim that he lives in the same household Therefore, in April 2019, we submitted a divorce notice and became divorced on paper. However, I have recently faced a big problem related to “custody.”. For the time being, we have submitted the paperwork that states, "a wife with sole custody of the child," but our worries are endless.
 Over the years, I’ve met many children with foreign roots who are suffering because of their names. In a society where you can’t use your own name, you cannot get self-affirmation. I hope that we can create a society where everyone’s name is valued.

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