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Japan to revamp women’s empowerment forum and focus on youth development

The Japanese government plans to revamp its international symposium on women’s empowerment with a greater focus on building the next generation and strengthening cooperation with the United Nations, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

This move came as the government felt it was necessary for the World Assembly of Women, established in 2014, to take a more practical approach and involve men and the younger generation in addressing women and gender issues.

Japan continues to lag behind other countries in closing the gender gap, ranking 118th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2024 report.

There are plans to hold the next international conference in 2025 under the theme “Women, Peace and Security”, with a focus on women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, the sources said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the World Assembly of Women in Tokyo on Dec. 3, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The inaugural symposium took place in September 2014 and was initiated by the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as part of his efforts to promote women’s participation in the workforce. Participants included Christine Lagarde, then Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

At the fourth annual meeting in November 2017, Ivanka Trump, daughter and senior advisor to then-US President Donald Trump, was a speaker.

At the sixth event in December 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to push for policies that take women’s perspectives into account. However, by that time the role of the conference had already diminished, as most of the key issues related to women’s empowerment had already been addressed.

The government intends to rename the forum and place greater emphasis on sending Japanese youth to UN meetings and international events, as well as creating networking opportunities between young researchers from Japan and abroad.

The new programme will also include the women, peace and security agenda promoted by Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa.

In relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the government is also considering organizing a symposium to discuss solutions to climate change and other global problems from a gender perspective, according to the sources.


Related coverage:

Japan appoints first female Attorney General in July

Japan ranks 118th in the 2024 Gender Gap Report, still by far the worst among the G7 countries

Japan wants to require more companies to disclose data on the gender pay gap


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