Happy New Year!

This is Chizuko Ueno, Director of WAN.

Last year, I went viral with this [speech at the University of Tokyo]!

So I got great media exposure, and thanks to that, WAN became widely known.

Last year was our 10th anniversary.

We held a symposium, “Active Feminism Again – Changing Society with Our Anger.” We went back to where we’d started. When WAN was born, there was a massive backlash against feminism.

But after 10 years, things are changing.

An appalling event happened the year before: gender discrimination in the entrance exam at Tokyo Medical University. The women who raised their voice against it began to suspect that there might have been similar practices in other fields too, and so hosted an academic conference “Rampant Gender Discrimination in Selection and Employment: Statistical Analysis of the Reality of Indirect Discrimination and Our Agenda.”

Similarly, those who fought against sexual assaults carried out Flower Demos.

There was another shocking event: the case of the father who’d been raping his biological daughter ended in acquittal. Many female lawyers raised their voices in anger against this ruling and held a symposium “What We Learned from the Okazaki ‘Sexual Assaults’: What the Ivory Tower Could Do.”

We have filmed both symposiums; they will stream on WAN’s website. Stay tuned!

Another question: Why can’t women say what they want and wear what they want?
As an answer, a SlutWalk took place in Osaka.

Wow, I think they’re great! Way to go!

One of the people who led the SlutWalk is the same person who designed this poster for our anniversary symposium.

I also contributed a rap tune: “I don’t dress up for ya! What’s wrong with dressing as I want!”

Women can say “no” to what they don’t want – I think it’s great that young women are becoming aware of this.

Also last year, we wanted to revitalize the Mini-comi Library, an asset we cherish, in the present today. Thus, we tried to let the younger generation read the newsletters of Fujin Mondai Konwa kai (Women’s Issues Roundtable), our predecessors’ legacy, which was another great symposium. Women from any given generation, from their 80s to their 20s, came together as a whole.

Such movements emerge one after another, and I do feel that feminism is again in the spotlight and being passed to the new generation.

2019 was the year of the Japanese House of Councilors election. Prior to the election, the Diet had unanimously passed and enacted Gender Parity Law. However, it had zero effect on the result. The number of female MPs ended up at 28, which was precisely the same as before the election. We were the only media outlet that reported this properly. Positive actions like this are inert as long as they’re not enforced. One of the most developed countries in women’s empowerment is Finland, and I received special recognition from its former President at a delightful event that also happened last year.

During the course of WAN’s past decade, we heard people say on many occasions “it’s been great to have WAN.” Could we stay the same over the next 10 years? Please support WAN for our sustainability. We have made “great efforts” to start a fundraising campaign this year. If you are considering a bequest contribution, or are not paying membership fees but feeling the benefits of WAN in your life, please consider making a small monthly donation. Even one dollar would be sufficient. We have launched a continuous campaign at the end of the year; please Google and have a look at it too.

The theme of this year’s WAN’s annual symposium will be: What Feminism Changed, Couldn’t Change, and Is Going to Change.” It’s been half a century since Women’s Liberation and now that we are at a transition to the new generation taking over the movement, we want to ponder feminism’s past and present. For that, we’ve chosen three perfect panels: Mitsu Tanaka, who spearheaded the 70’s feminism movement; Junko Sakai, who just entered her 50s; and Tamaka Ogawa, one of the organizers of the Flower Demos. We’ll have these three women in their 70s, 50s and 30s talk about the past and the future of current issues. You can’t miss this symposium! Please join us on May 16th in Tokyo. I look forward to it!

See you then!

Translated by Yoko Morgenstern