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Asian Breeze

The “Asian Breeze” is a newsletter published in English and Japanese by Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women/KFAW. It covers a wide range of up-to-date topics such as gender equality, empowerment of all of women and girls, SDGs and environmental issues and so on, allowing you to see 'Asian women today'. We hope you will enjoy reading it.

Asian Breeze Vol. 101 (Web Newsletter)

Filipino women who have connected the world.




Professor , Ferris University


Asian Breeze No.101

Filipino women who have connected the world.

– OGAYA Chiho
 Professor, Ferris University

1.Filipino women overseas under pandemic
In December 2020, news spread around the world that the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination had been administered. While the news is full of images of elderly British lady saying, “I’m happy to have received the world’s first vaccination,” the person who conducted the vaccine for the first time in the world was a woman who has worked in the UK for 24 years, a nurse from the Philippines. She was one of the “essential workers” who suddenly started to be referred to during the pandemic, even in Japan. How much attention did the world pay to those migrant nurses?

2.Care work and essential work
Society became aware early on that in Europe, where the COVID-19 situation became more serious than in Japan, many of the so-called essential workers are immigrants or people with roots in other countries. People whose “ethnicity’” as immigrants (or immigrant roots) and “gender” (as being women) overlap made up the majority of essential workers, such as those working at grocery store counters, in nursing homes and doing domestic work in private homes. A sociologist Arlie Russel called the structure in which women from developing countries, including the Philippines, engage in care work in the more advanced countries through migrant labor, the “global care chain.” Through the international movement of women, care chain is created between developing countries and developed countries, and the higher up the chain, the more abundant care they can receive. Japan, which has accepted Filipino entertainers (whose entry became more restricted in 2005 after being flagged as a “hotbed of human trafficking” by the U.S. Department of State), marriage migrants in rural areas, care workers, and recently, household service workers in National Strategic Special Zones, is also a society that has relied on the “care” of migrant women, especially Filipino women, in various ways.

3.Philippine overseas employment policy and overseas female workers
The Philippines has been implementing the overseas employment policy as a national policy since 1974 for 50 years and is a world-renowned country of sending workers overseas. It is said that there are currently approximately 10 million people living overseas (= 10% of the total population) in approximately 218 countries, and remittances from these overseas Filipinos account for nearly 10% of GDP. It has been said that the Philippines’ “biggest export item is people,” and even after the pandemic, more than 2 million workers go abroad every year, nearly half of whom are women engaged in care work. Their work as domestic workers and care workers has always been a workplace where they are constantly exposed to danger and where wages and working conditions are difficult to protect. In the Philippines, which enacted the “Magna Carta of Migrant Workers” (Republic Act No. 8042) in 1995, the issue of protecting the rights of overseas workers has always been posed to the government by women working overseas. As a sending country, the Philippine government has tried various measures such as setting a minimum wage for domestic workers and granting skills qualifications for them, but the rights of women working overseas are still being violated constantly, and as many Filipino popular films have shown to this day, families continue to rely on thier remittances and put pressure on mothers and daughters abroad.

4.BPO industry and Filipino women – Connecting the world in the Philippines.
Since the 2000s, the IT-BPO industry has become the pillar of the economy in the Philippines, second to overseas employment. Typical examples include college graduate women who workday and night in call centers of multinational companies in city centres. However, even the call center jobs, which are popular as “English-speaking and well-paying jobs” with air-conditioned offices and the ability to work from home even during the pandemic, are actually not free from frequent night shifts and unstable working conditions. Once again, Filipino women play the role of connecting consumers and global businesses around the world through their English skills and a type of care work (‘customer care’). Filipino women who teach at English schools in the Philippines for Korean and Japanese youth are also expected to play a similar role as care workers, while also “connect” the world. Looking back, Filipino women have long been supporting the global economy behind the scenes. Since the 1970s, these women have been known as with “nimble fingers” who have worked in foreign factories for export. Women also have been consumed and exploited by foreign men in sex tourism. These women are connected to Filipino women currently working in call centers in Metro Manila and in elderly care facilities in Japan. These are women who have connected the global economy and the world throughout the ages.

5.Does the “connected” world respect Filipino women?
Based on the English proficiency and hospitality that were built up through the country’s historical colonial rule by Spain and the United States, the discourse that Filipinos are” cheerful people” and “they have large families and are good at providing care” has been born. This has, ironically, created a global pattern in which Filipino women have taken on roles that could be described as global “subcontractors of care” for low wages. Is the world that has been “connected” through the various types of care provided by these women rigorously evaluating the value of that “care labor”? Care and service occupations with low wages, long working hours with heavy duty are often seen as “women’s” jobs. It is also a low-paying, hard, and long-hour job that people are expected to do because they are foreigners. The pandemic has brought to light once again how “essential” the care work performed by migrant women is for society, and the question of how to think about the value of care work has become clear. This is an issue common to all parts of the world, including Japan. Many of the Filipino women living in Japan are also mothers of young people with mixed roots. They are the ones who have nurtured young people who embody diversity and are active in various fields. Including the contributions of these mothers, do we respect the existence of women from the Philippines and immigrant women in general?


Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Faculty of Letters, Ferris University, Yokohama, Japan. born 1974.

Graduated from Hitotsubashi University, Faculty of Sociology in 1997, and withdrew with a degree in 2003 from the Graduate School of Sociology, Hitotsubashi University. Formerly Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Human Sciences, Yokohama National University. Specialises in international sociology, gender, and international migration. Focusing mainly on migration of people from the Philippines, she researched the organizational activities of women who go to work as domestic workers in Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries, and their relationships with their families of origin. She has since conducted identity research based on networks of Filipino migrants living in Europe and North America, children migrating across borders and the narratives of young people who have been called ‘double’ and ‘half’.

Since 2000, when she was studying in the Philippines, she has been involved in DAWN (Development Action for Women Network), which works to empower Japanese Filipino Children (JFC), migrant women and their children who have returned from Japan. She is a member of DAWN-Japan, which supports the Japan tour of the JFC’s theatre company Akebono and various DAWN activities from the Japanese side. Since becoming a university teacher, she has been involved in exchange activities between Japanese students and JFC and has recently been researching the history and role of DAWN and other JFC and mothers’ support organisations.

Her main publications include Living on the Move: Filipino Migrant Women and Multiple Mobilities (Yushindo Koubunsha, 2016), Transnational Sociology (Yuhikaku, co-edited 2015) and Transnational Sociology of Domestic Work (Jimbunshoin, co-authored 2020). Recent articles include “Thinking ‘Home’ from Mobility – To Overcome the Uniform ‘Stay Home’ Discourse” (Gendai Shiso, Vol. 48-10 Special Issue: Coronas and Living – From the field of countermeasures, Seidosha, 2020), “The role of support organisations in the movement of people between Japan and the Philippines: Focusing on the experiences of migrant women and JFC” (co-author, Bulletin of the Faculty of Letters, Ferris University, No. 55, 2020), “Unlearning Symbiosis – Towards the Practice of Diversity” (ed. Koichi Iwabuchi, Dialogue with Diversity: What Diversity Promotion Makes Invisible, Seikyusha 2021).

She is currently a member (chairperson) of the Yokohama City Council for the Promotion of Gender Equality and also a member of the Kawasaki City Council for the Promotion of a Multicultural Society.

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us!→info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.100 (Web Newsletter)



Rice Cakes and the Status of Women in Philippines 
-Patricia B. Licuanan (Former Philippines Minister of Higher Education 2010 to 2018)

Gender equality is key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 
-Oda Yukiko (Officer , Japan Women’s Watch (JAWW))


In this milestone 100th issue, former Philippine Minister of Higher Education Paricia B. Licuanan, who was also
active in the UN, leading the negotiations of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the UN Fourth
Conference on Women, and has been involved in women’s higher education in the Philippines for a long time, talks
about gender issues in the Philippines. She spoke about gender issues in the Philippines. Ms. Yukiko Oda, she was
researcher of Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women who has been involved in gender issues at universities and NGOs
for a long time, also explains the keys to achieving the SDGs.

Asian Breeze No.100


  1. Rice Cakes and the Status of Women in Philippines
    -Patricia B. Licuanan (Former Philippines Minister of Higher Education 2010 to 2018)
  2. Gender equality is key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
    -Oda Yukiko (Officer , Japan Women’s Watch (JAWW))

In this milestone 100th issue, former Philippine Minister of Higher Education Paricia B. Licuanan, who was also active in the UN, leading the negotiations of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the UN Fourth Conference on Women, and has been involved in women’s higher education in the Philippines for a long time, talks about gender issues in the Philippines. She spoke about gender issues in the Philippines. Ms. Yukiko Oda, she was researcher of Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women who has been involved in gender issues at universities and NGOs for a long time, also explains the keys to achieving the SDGs.

Rice Cakes and the Status of Women in the Philippines

Patricia B. Licuanan

Patricia B. Licuanan PhD is a social psychologist, educator, and women’s rights and empowerment activist. She has been professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and academic vice-president of Ateneo de Manila University and president of Miriam College. She has played leadership roles in the women’s movement both nationally and internationally serving as chair of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women(now Philippine Commission on Women) and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as well as NGO networks in the Asia and Pacific region. At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995, she led the negotiations on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. She was Philippine Minister of Higher Education from 2010 to 2018.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Philippines is supported by many factors. The formal policy environment recognizes the equality between women and men and the important role of women in national life. The Philippine constitution has an explicit gender equality provision. There are many significant and progressive laws such as the comprehensive Women in Development and Nation Building Act and more recently the Magna Carta of Women. The Philippines was the first country in Asia to have an Anti-Sexual Harassment Law which has recently been expanded in the Safe Spaces Act.

During the administration of President Corazon Aquino, the first Philippine Development Plan for Women was launched, followed by several successor plans. The significance of these national plans for women is that as companion to the Philippine Development Plan, they ensure that women, women’s issues, and women’s contributions are part of national planning and programming and the work of all government agencies. Government working for women has also been enhanced by the creation of the Gender Budget which sets aside 5% of the budget of all government agencies (including state colleges and universities) for programs on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Beyond national policy, international covenants on women’s rights such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action have played important roles. Aside from the Philippines being signatory to these, it must be noted that Filipino women, including 4 who have served as chair of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), played major roles in the crafting of these landmark documents.

After the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum was established in 2006, the Philippines consistently placed in the top 10 for over a decade. Today the country’s rating has gone down but it remains in the top 20, the only Asian country on the list. And while the United States is celebrating its first woman vice president, the Philippines has had two woman vice-presidents and two woman presidents and some extraordinary women in high positions.

Along with legislation, policy, and leadership, gender equality and women’s empowerment is driven at the grassroots level by a strong and vibrant women’s movement, women NGOs that push for and support progressive laws and policies and make their voices heard on important issues.

The status of women in the Philippines is propelled and enhanced by what the women’s movement refers to as the “bibingka principle”. Bibingka, is a national delicacy, a rice cake made from glutinous rice flour, eggs, and a bit of sugar, topped with morsels of local white cheese, salted duck egg, and grated coconut. Making it is a time-consuming process that involves pouring the batter into a round pan with hot coal underneath, then placing more hot coal on top. In effect, the bibingka is cooked by the burning coal from below and above. Thus, the status of women has fire on top in the form of progressive and enlightened legislation, policy, and leadership and fire at the bottom in the form of well-organized, dynamic, and courageous NGOs.

So there is a lot working for women in the Philippines. But there are problems. Women outnumber men in school enrollment and graduation but these accomplishments do not necessarily result in better access to decent jobs nor parity in work and promotion opportunities. Men’s average wages are higher than that of women in both rural and urban areas and women are under-represented in top administrative and managerial positions and in political leadership.

Negative attitudes and stereotypes exist and operate in society. This is particularly obvious in politics where factors of entrenched discrimination operate. A large percent of the population believe that men make better political leaders than women. Thus women continue to be seriously underrepresented as candidates for public office although they make up at least half of the electorate. Violence against women is present in many forms—domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, and misogynistic statements in public coming from top male leaders.

Therefore, advocacy and action for gender equality and women’s empowerment must continue. There is need to analyze and remedy the Philippines’ lowered ratings on the Global Gender Gap Index. There is need to understand how a visibly misogynistic leadership emerged and why it is being tolerated. The “bibingka principle” should be applied with greater fervor and determination.

Gender equality is key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Oda Yukiko

Officer, Japan Women’s Watch (JAWW)

Former Co-facilitator, Gender Unit, Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs

Oda Yukiko has worked in the fields of research, education, development practice, and civil society as a researcher at the Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women, a university faculty member, a JICA project expert and committee member, and an advocate. Her areas of expertise are gender and sustainable development, and she has been following the SDGs since their birth at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, through the adoption of Agenda 2030 at the UN in 2015, and the subsequent implementation in Japan from gender and civic perspectives. Her recent publications include ‘Environment, Climate Change and Gender Equality:How Have They Created Synergies?’ in International Women, No. 36, 2022.

The SDG Summit: halfway point to 2030

On September 18 and 19, 2023, the UN SDG Summit took place, bringing together heads of state every four years to conduct a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (hereafter referred to as the SDGs), adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.

In his opening remarks at the Summit, UN Secretary-General Guterres stated, ‛Today, only 15 per cent of the targets are on track and many are going in reverse. Instead of leaving no one behind, we risk leaving the SDGs behind.’This follows the UN’s Sustainable Development Report 2023, Special Edition: Towards a Rescue Plan for People and Planet, which had pointed out the delay in progress of SDGs implementation using the expression ‛Promise in peril.’ The Sustainable Development Report (SDR) 2023, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), has also highlighted the slow progress, stating ‛not a single goal will be achieved by 2030 at the current rate.’

Based on this sense of urgency, the Secretary-General outlined what needs to be done in the remaining seven years, firstly to secure financing for the achievement of the SDGs and stressed the need to change the international financial architecture. He also identified six targeted areas where urgent transitions are needed: food, renewable energy, digitalization, education, decent work and social protection, and planetary crises, emphasizing that ensuring full gender equality is a cross-cutting perspective across all these areas. In this way, he enthusiastically inspired action to achieve the SDGs. The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), a report by fifteen independent scientists appointed by the UN, centered on transforming the world, taking from the 2030 Agenda, and saw the SDGs implementation as a game-changer, viewing it as an opportunity to change the world.

Progress and challenges of the SDGs in Japan

The progress of the SDGs in Japan is evident in the number of people wearing SDG badges in business, government, or civil society, and the media offering special programs on the SDGs. Thanks to this, awareness of the SDGs in Japan is surprisingly high, at over 90%. However, despite the prominent level of awareness, Japan’s ranking by country, which indexes each country’s progress in achieving the SDGs, has fallen from 11th in 2017 to 21st in GSDR 2023. Goal 5, Gender Equality, is the leading goal where progress has not been made.

In Japan, the SDGs are implemented in accordance with the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles (hereafter referred to as the Guiding Principles), led by the SDGs Promotion Headquarters headed by the Prime Minister. The Guiding Principles are to be revised in line with the UN SDG Summit, with the latest draft revision announced in November 2023 and called for public opinion, a new set of Guiding Principles will be announced in December 2023. Based on the Guiding Principles, an ‛SDGs Action Plan’ is prepared every year, and actions are taken accordingly, but the reality is that many of these plans are based on existing programs of ministries and agencies, So, it is difficult to say that they are plans to achieve the goals set out by the SDGs.

The most comprehensive review of progress is the Voluntary National Review (VNR), in which countries report at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) held annually at the UN. Japan’s most recent report was in 2021. To measure the progress of implementation, global indicators are defined in line with the 169 targets of the SDGs, and Japan’s corresponding data can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), but it is difficult to compare progress and understand the current situation compared to reports by the UN and other organizations because some data is not collected. Accountability remains in terms of verifying the progress of the SDGs in Japan.

Measuring progress on gender equality – gender mainstreaming and intersectionality

UN Women publishes an annual Gender Snapshot (hereafter referred to as the Snapshot) to examine the achievement of gender equality through the implementation of the SDGs. The Snapshot is informative for the promotion of the SDGs and gender equality in Japan in two ways. The first is that it specifically outlines progress and challenges in gender equality, not only through Goal 5, Gender Equality, of the SDGs, but also through all 17 Goals. This can be seen as a formulation of the preamble to the 2030 Agenda, which states the importance of mainstreaming gender perspectives to achieve the seventeen goals of the SDGs. The second feature of the Snapshot is that it presents an intersectionality perspective. Let us take a few goals from the Snapshot 2023 as examples.

Goal 9 of the SDGs on ‛Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure,’ presents gender-disaggregated data, including that women make up a quarter of those working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ICT fields, and that women account for only 17% of global patent holders. It further notes that women are at greater risk of being exposed to technology-facilitated violence and suggests the need to eliminate gender-based violence to achieve Goal 9. Gender-based violence is often referred to in Goal 5 and Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong institutions, but the Snapshot suggests that it is also important for the achievement of Goal 9. In addition, Goal 9 introduces the finding that AI-based facial and voice recognition systems have more misclassified darker-skinned women compared to fair-skinned men, suggesting that the gender and racial bias of developers is a matter and drawing attention to the need for diverse people to be involved in the development.

Regarding Goal 11 on ‛Sustainable Cities and Communities,’the Snapshot projects that in 2050, 70% of the world’s women and girls will live in cities and one-third of them in slums or informal settlements, emphasizing the need for public investment in the settlement sector from a gender equality perspective. Then, Goal 11 leads toward the right to housing for women with disabilities by introducing data that women with disabilities account for 18% of all women, but only 27% (52 out of 190) countries have protection and promotion of women’s rights in their national policies on people with disabilities. Some local governments in Japan have included the perspective of persons with disabilities in their city planning, but it is necessary to verify how many of them have raised gender perspectives.

Regarding Goal 13 on ‛Climate Change,’ not only does the section present gendered data that 160 million women and girls will be at risk of extreme poverty and 240 million women of food insecurity by 2050 due to climate change. It also reminds us that countries are obliged to include a ‘gender perspective’ in their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on ‛Climate Change.’ The report presents data showing that only fifty-five countries refer to gender equality in their NDC and twenty-three countries position women as agents of change. Thus, it shows that the achievement of Goal 13 ‛Climate Change’is related to Goal 1 ‛No Poverty’ and Goal 5 ‛Gender Equality.’ The Snapshot 2023 has a particular focus on older women, drawing attention to the issue of violence against older women as well as poverty among older women. It reminds us that it is Japan, a hyper-aged society, which needs to mainstream the issue of the human rights and dignity of older women in the implementation of SDGs. In this way, the Snapshot attempts to show the diverse issues of diverse people, not just gender disaggregated data. It can serve as a reference for examining the implementation of the SDGs in Japan.

Lastly, one example of progress made on gender through the implementation of the SDGs in Japan can be seen in the data on awareness and understanding of each theme of the SDGs.

According to a survey, awareness of gender equality was 90.2%, ranking second after food loss, and in terms of understanding, it ranked third after food loss and renewable energy (22.8%). At the very least, we can say that the SDGs have contributed to removing allergies to the term gender in Japan. As acknowledged in the Draft Revised Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the SDGs, Japan is severely lagging behind on Goal 5 ‛Gender Equality.’ This means that if Japan accelerates its efforts and achieves results in gender equality in the latter seven years to 2030, it could lead the global movement towards the post-SDGs as a country that has tackled difficult issues. The key to Japan’s achievement of the SDGs lies in its gender equality efforts.

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us! →info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.99 (Web Newsletter)

Victim Support for Digital Sexual Crimes in Korea, focusing on the Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center’s One-Stop Integrated Support.


 – Kim Han Sol (IFWF(Inchon Foundation for Women and Family))



Self-transformation and its impact on populace through the lens of GCFP


– Sonam Dorji (Sr. Legal Officer  Gelephu Thromde Administration)


My Daily Work


– Yeshey Lam ( Deputy Chief counselor  National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC))


Women’s issues in Bhutan


– Lhaden Wangmo ( CSO RENEW Project Manager)

CSO (Civil Society Organization)

RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women)



Asian Breeze No.99


I to T (Internet to Things Every object is connected to the Internet.) In recent years, digital sex crimes such as the n-ban room incident have become a major problem in South Korea, and a report on victim protection was given from Incheon, South Korea, a sister city of Kitakyushu City.

From Bhutan, two government officials and an CSO, who came to Japan in May-June this year for JICA training, spoke about gender issues in relation to their daily work.

  1. Victim Support for Digital Sexual Crimes in Korea, focusing on the Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center’s One-Stop Integrated Support.
    -Kim Han Sol (IFWF(Inchon Foundation for Women and Family))
  2. Self-transformation and its impact on populace through the lens of GCFP
    — Sonam Dorji (Sr. Legal Officer Gelephu Thromde Administration)
  3. My Daily Work
    -Yeshey Lam ( Deputy Chief counselor National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC))
  4. Women’s issues in Bhutan
    -lhaden wangmo ( CSO RENEW Project Manager)
    CSO (Civil Society Organization)
    RENEW(Respect, Educate, Nuture, Enpower  Women)


Victim Support for Digital Sexual Crimes in Korea, focusing on the Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center’s One-Stop Integrated Support.

– Kim Han Sol
 IFWF(Inchon Foundation for Women and Family)

【Incheon Foundation for Women and Family】
Incheon Foundation for Women and Family aims to realize gender equality in Incheon and was established in 2013 through the merger of the Incheon
Development Research Women’s Policy Centre and the Incheon Women’s Culture Centre.

For the past 10 years, the foundation has conducted research on women and family policy in line with regional characteristics and women’s social
education. It also spearheads employment promotion projects. Since 2021, the Foundation has also been operating the Gender Equality Museum DADARUM and the Digital Sexual Crime Prevention and Response Centre, as well as the Children’s Love & Dreams Square Operational Support Organization to promote the culture of gender equality, in order to get closer to citizens.

In the future, the foundation will strengthen its cooperation with the Incheon City Government and incorporate the voices of Incheon women into its policies and projects. By acting as a hub for communication with the community, we strive to create an Incheon that is a harmonious blend of work, life, and rest.

In Korea, public awareness of digital sexual crimes has increased since the “Sora.net case” and continues to rise due to repeated occurrences of these crimes on different platforms, such as web hard cartels, dark web operations, and the Nth Room case. The severity of digital sexual crimes targeting children and adolescents was brought to the forefront by the Nth Room case, which shook Korean society and led to the revision of digital sexual crime-related laws (commonly known as the “Nth Room Prevention Act”). The legal basis for punishing perpetrators was strengthened by adding and supplementing the “Act on Special Cases Concerning The Punishment Of Sexual Crimes” and the ” Act on Protection of Children and Juveniles against Sexual Abuse,” thereby establishing a legal framework for protecting victims.*1

Digital sexual crimes punishable under the law are broadly categorized as illegal filming, non-consensual distribution, distribution with threats, possession, purchase, storage, distribution, and consumption of illegal filming materials for profit, production and distribution of false videos, production of grooming and sexual exploitation materials targeting children and adolescents, and sexual harassment in cyberspace (Kim Hee-jung and Park Kwang-min, 2020).*2*3 However, despite these legal provisions, there are still types of crimes that remain unpunishable under the law and continue to occur. The Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center provides comprehensive support to victims, which is not limited to the legally defined types of digital sexual crimes.

The Center’s “one-stop integrated support” program comprises various services, including counseling support, deletion support, case support, legal support, medical expense support, and healing program support. During the counseling support process, the Center addresses the psychological difficulties experienced by victims through phone or face-to-face counseling, identifies the victim’s needs, and develops a suitable support plan. The deletion support service monitors the distribution of filmed materials without the victim’s consent, such as videos that were filmed and distributed without consent on domestic or foreign platforms. If the video has been distributed, in case it is used in the investigation, they document the distribution and request that it be removed as soon as possible. We are also requesting that the site be blocked so that other users cannot access it.

The case support process provided by the Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center ensures that victims are not excluded from information during police and prosecution investigations and supports them in responding appropriately at each stage. To ensure defense rights during criminal procedures, defendants are provided with information on the progress of the case and controversial issues. However, given the lengthy criminal process that lasts for more than a year, victims may experience exclusion from information such as the status of the perpetrator’s punishment, which can exacerbate their anxiety. Additionally, during the trial process, defendants may deny the abusive acts, and victims may be required to attend as witnesses during the dispute, making continuous case support necessary. The Center collaborates with lawyers in charge throughout the entire criminal procedure to provide professional legal support and ensure that victims are protected and able to find their rights.

Finally, the Center’s key support is victim recovery. Helping victims overcome physical trauma and psychological difficulties is crucial for their return to everyday life. Thus, the Center provides direct support for victims’ physical and mental treatment expenses and operates customized healing programs for digital sexual crime victims to aid their return to their daily lives. Given that digital sexual crimes often involve underage victims, the Center operates programs consisting of media such as art and sand play, considering their specific needs.*4

In addition, the Incheon Digital Sexual Crimes Prevention Center recognizes that the structural essence of digital sexual crimes is gender-based violence that combines misogyny, child and adolescent sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation industries (Kim, Han-gyun, 2020).*5 Thus, the Center strives to improve awareness by promoting the understanding that the essence of digital sexual crimes is a problem of the social structure that commodifies women’s bodies. Moreover, the Center conducts activities to prevent digital sexual crimes, such as sharing the main types and methods of occurrence that can expose teenagers to the risk of digital sexual crimes and providing education on how to use the digital space safely. The Center will continue its prevention and response activities reflecting the voices of victims to eradicate digital sexual crimes.

Since digital sexual crimes have no boundaries between regions and countries, the problem will continue to occur without spatial constraints as digital devices become widespread and access to the online environment becomes universal. Therefore, we strongly feel the necessity of international alliance and hope for a national alliance between Korea and Japan to eradicate digital sexual crimes.

*1 “A Bill to Partially Amend the Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Violence Crimes,” 377th National Assembly, No. 2024883 (Apr. 29, 2020).

*2 Kim, Hee-Jung and Park, Kwang-Min. (2020). The Concept, Types, and Actuality of Digital Sexual Crimes and Ways to Improve. Sungkyunkwan Law Review, 32(4), 237-276.

*3 Ministry of Justice, “Types of Digital Sex Crimes,” Living Law Information, https://easylaw.go.kr/CSP/CnpClsMain.laf?csmSeq=1594&ccfNo=1&cciNo=1&cnpClsNo=1 (last visited May 7, 2023).

*4 For more information on the center’s support, see the video “A Day in the Life of Daon” (https://youtu.be/whKJBoj6ExQ).

*5 Kim, Han-gyun. (2020). Blocking and dealing with digital sex crimes – Criminalization of technology-mediated gender-based violence. Justice, 178, 369-392.

Self-Transformation and its impact on populace through the lens of GCFP

– Sonam Dorji
 Sr. Legal Officer Gelephu Thromde Administration

By profession, I am Sr. Legal Officer in the Royal Government of Bhutan currently serving under the Gelephu Thromde (Municipality). It has been almost two years since I have been assigned to be the GCFP (Gender and Child Focal Point) for the Thromde. As a focal point, I had the privilege and opportunity to attend various workshops and training on violence against women and children in the country. It has been an overwhelming experience for me to understand various issues on women and children through such programs and experiences shared by fellow participants, especially the CBSS (Community Based Support System) volunteers. Further, I had the privilege to attend country focused training on Protection and Care of Women and Children in Japan for three weeks. Hence, with the objective of serving the vulnerable sections of the society through my knowledge and experience gained, I also joined CBSS as a volunteer.

【Roles of GCFP】
As GCFP, I assume the following multifaceted responsibilities as:
a. Protection Officer: Conduct assessments on survivors of domestic violence and child abuse.
b. Probation Officer: deal with the diversion of children in conflict with laws.
c. Member secretary to TWCC (Thromde Women and Children Committee): Initiate any critical issues and challenges affecting women and children.
d. Liaison: Consult with other service providers, such as NCWC (National Commission for Women and Children) PEMA (Pema Centre Pema Centre Secretariat; the Centre was established upon the Royal Command of Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan to spearhead Bhutan’s national response to mental health) Secretariat, Royal Bhutan Police, Local Government Authorities and RENEW/ CBSS Volunteers.

Self-transformation refers to the process of making significant and lasting changes in oneself, often with a goal of personal growth, self-improvement, or achieving a desired state of being. However, I would like to briefly state what self-transformation means to me, in terms of the role that I play as a GCFP. There is a feeling of oneness and inter-linkage with the women and children that requires protection and care. I have developed a non-judgmental approach and reckon the challenges of women and children as an essential part of building a healthy community. I have developed a passion to endure under trying circumstances and honor to be a part of the solution. I never consider the role of GCFP as an additional mandate, rather I take it as an opportunity to serve the community with empathy. Based on the merit and the exigencies, I even make myself available during the weekend as well.

【Doing things differently】
While all would agree that there are relevant laws and policies to address the challenges faced by women and children in Bhutan, there are no provisions of law that are custom fitted for every challenge. Hence, I take the common ground approach to address the issues, as the laws are meant to rescue and provide full support to the survivors of DV, children under difficult circumstances, and children in conflicts with laws. In doing so, I take calculated risks to provide services without fundamentally contravening the provisions of laws. Otherwise, the delayed assistance and support will further damage the survivors’ psychological well-being.

【Supplementing Socio-psychological supports】
With the advancement of science of mind and wonderful services rendered by the counselors, a handful of survivors and perpetrators, desirous of healing from trauma seek my consensus building mechanism. Thus, I offer to mediate the issues to resolve the conflict amicably to prevent bitterness amongst the intimate partners. The art of active listening and acknowledging the concerns raised by both the survivor and the perpetrators is taken into consideration with due diligence to reach a consensus between the parties.

【Agent of change】
Peace in the community or family is an integral part of a just and harmonious society. Having trained on and understood the issues of women and children, and accepting the frailty of human behaviors, it has become my responsibility to facilitate and drive positive changes by influencing the attitudes, behaviors, and processes of perpetrators. I need to inspire and motivate people to embrace unity and harmony. I am willing to explore alternative solutions and think creatively to address problems. Building trust and credibility of the services that I provide will make people understand the perspectives and concerns of those affected by one’s behavior. It is imperative to demonstrate empathy and actively work to address the emotional aspects of the survivors as well as the perpetrators.
Effective communication is essential for the change to happen. Being change agent also involves stepping out of comfort zones and being open to new experiences.

【Ground reality】
In addressing the issues of women and children, however, trifle it may appear prima facie, one may come across the complexity of the issues after comprehensive assessment of the case. Hence, engaging with a support system, such as friends, family, mentors, or professionals provides guidance. It often requires collaboration and cooperation too. Hence, I keep healthy interpersonal relationships with relevant service providers and stakeholders to address the issues in a comprehensive manner.

【Walking extra miles with Indigenous values】
There is no dearth of inspiration drawn from the international best practices enshrined in laws, because Bhutan had ratified two notable Conventions; CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and Convention on Rights of Child), However, those best practices so profound in Western settings which we adhere to may not work in our country due to differences in socio-cultural values. Hence, with the support of District and Thromde, we are exploring to include representatives of Monastic Body to be an active member to provide their services to prevent, protect, and care for violence against women and children.

Given the dynamic nature of the community and having a direct impact on relationships and vice-versa, the challenges faced by women and children will become more complicated in the future. However, a resolute individual who is willing to go beyond the mandates of his or her profession will make a major impact on the vulnerable sections of the populace.


GCFP (Gender and Children Focal Point)

CBSS (Community Based Support System)

TWCC (Thromde Women and Children Committee)

PEMA (PEMA Centre The Centre was established upon the Royal Command of Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan to spearhead Bhutan’s national response to mental health)

RENEW (CSO, Respect Educate, Nurture, Empower Women)

NCWC (National Commission for Women and Children)

My Daily Work

– Yeshey Lham
 Deputy Chief counselor National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC)

I am Yeshey Lham, a dedicated and goal-driven counselor at the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) in Bhutan. As a Head of the Protection Services, my main responsibility is to ensure the systematic and cohesive services to protect children and women in difficult circumstances including children in conflict with law. I have committed to provide appropriate interventions and safe facilitation to relevant agencies as per procedures outlined in the standard operating procedure for gender-based violence prevention and Child Protection, ensuring that the rights of women and children are protected and promoted through gender responsive interventions and children-sensitive perspectives.

Of late, I am attached with the Programme Division which functions to promote and protect the rights of women and children including strengthening of legal, policy, institutional and capacity building besides monitoring women and children protection services.

The National Commission for Women and Children in Bhutan works closely with Gender and Child Focal Points (GCFP) thus playing a key role in mainstreaming and addressing gender and child protection issues at the field level. Recognizing the need for adequate skills and knowledge for better service delivery, it is crucial that the expertise of the GCFPs is strengthened to respond to challenges related to women and children.

For this very purpose and to build further collaborations and partnerships, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and NCWC jointly organized a one-month capacity building programme targeting the GCFPs, NCWC officials and other relevant stakeholders on Protection and Care for Women and Children.

This training has helped me enhance my understanding of gender-based and domestic violence and its impact on the victims, therefore my efforts to work towards sustainable development in terms of inclusiveness has been boosted. It is also an added advantage to learn the best practices of the Japanese legal system, organizational structures that surround women and children.

JICA’s assignment of this training programme to Kitakyushu Forum on Asian Women (KFAW) has perfect training objectives that suited the Bhutanese context of work requirements. The training modules designed suited the needs of the participants. The training conducted in two batches was indeed a huge investment committed by JICA. Nonetheless, the participants have demonstrated their commitment in performing plans and programs in their respective community with the learning experiences gained and witnessed from Japan.

My recent task to roll out the workshops on implementing the RESPECT Framework to prevent violence against women, in collaboration with the UN in Bhutan, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and UNDP, was an enormous success. Through 3-day workshop in two batches, we were able to reach out to all 20 districts and 4 municipals, in equipping not only our GCFP but also key people from the districts with knowledge and guidance, promising practices and share links to resources and tools to facilitate scaling up of evidence-informed strategies to prevent violence against women. Each letter of RESPECT stands for one of seven strategies.

The experiences I gained in Japan made me confident to deliver my sessions during those training sessions.
The Module titled “Initiatives on Gender Equality and Kitakyushu City’s, Support System for Women and Children, Structure and Programmed on Protection on Women and Children support system for women and children in Kitakyushu city” are best suited for my targeted participants. The inclusion of Chairpersons of the Local Government, Officer in Commanding of the Royal Bhutan Police with GCFPs across the country has guided me to reflect on the Japan’s local government initiatives that are center of practical operations for women and children with an alertness on the importance of relevant legislations, regulations and efforts to prevent violence against women and children. The training in Japan helped me prepare my presentations effectively and facilitate the roll-out smoothly and confidently.

Similarly, the module on Initiatives to Prevent Child Abuse by Kitakyshu City and Offender Rehabilitation System coupled with other modules, have also helped me enhance my efforts in coordinating and supporting children in conflict with law as well as to emphasize on rehabilitation and safe reintegration to juvenile delinquents especially with girls experiencing more stigmatization. The enriching lessons have helped in presentation delivery on situations of children in the country to newly selected District Education Officers and school Principals in 2023 and Early Identification and Safe Referral Training to teachers and Health Workers recently.

Lastly, on behalf of NCWC, Royal Government of Bhutan, I convey my humble gratitude to the JICA Office for awarding me this opportunity and express my sincere appreciation to KFAW for organizing excellent training course.


NCWC (National Commission for Women and Children)

GCFP (Gender Child Focal Point)

UNFPA (United Nation Population Fund)

WHO (World Health Organization)

UNFPA (United Nation Population Fund)

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)

Women’s issues in Bhutan

– lhaden wangmo
 RENEW Project Manager

Bhutan has made progress in enacting laws and formulating policies and regulations on sexual and reproductive health, young people, and gender equality. Despite strong political commitment and a supportive legal and policy framework, Gender-based violence remains an issue in Bhutan. The country faces challenges in ensuring the implementation of the policies and laws.

Gender-based violence against women and girls is one of the most significant social issues today with widespread impacts, including on health and well-being, productivity, and national development. Prevent domestic violence and to provide the necessary support for the victims, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of Bhutan was enacted in 2013. Since then, many initiatives have been taken by the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) as the “Competent Authority” in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations and relevant partners in implementing the Act.

I am working as a Project Manager in Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women (RENEW) Organization, and prior to the present position, I also worked as Sr. Counsellor. It is my privilege to jot down a few of my personal reflections and what I have experienced working as a service provider to the women and girls in my country. Today whatever I share here is based on my personal experience and what I have observed on my ongoing services at RENEW Organization. I started working as an assistant counsellor from January 2012 till January 2023. I have personally seen and provided services to more than a thousand survivors of Domestic violence and Gender-based violence for many girls and women.

RENEW is a civil society organization (CSO) established by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck to empower families affected by domestic violence and Gender-Based Violence, with a special focus on vulnerable women and children. RENEW is the first and only CSO of its kind in Bhutan. RENEW initiated several services such as individual, couple, and family counselling, legal aid, livelihood skills training, safe house, medical aid, educational scholarship, case management services, and SRH clinic.

RENEW works tirelessly to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of such violence, provide support services to survivors, and advocate for policy changes and legal reforms. Due to the RENEW Organization’s tireless work on raising awareness and sensitization at the community level, the major outcome it has led to is the increased knowledge and understanding of the various forms of gender-based violence, its impact on women’s lives, and the importance of getting the right services needed. The people and the communities around them have also gained a deeper understanding of the underlying causes and dynamics of violence against women and girls.

RENEW also conducts training and capacity-building programs for the volunteers, stakeholders, and our partners across the country to cater the services to every corner of places in Bhutan. RENEW has successfully established 10 Community Service Centres in ten districts to provide services to those in need in the community.

In 2021 alone we have provided services to 774 cases of DV/GBV by platforms such as social media, Walk-in clients, helpline, and referrals from our volunteers across the country. When it comes to the cases we handle, we provide services to all ranges of different situations, including various forms of abuse such as Economic abuse, physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse, and Non/DV/GBV. Most Bhutanese women stay in abusive relationships because they are dependent on their spouses economically, fear and safety concerns, lack of support system, emotional attachment and love, and cultural and religious factors.

During my tenure, I have come across many women and girls who availed our services and made positive changes in their lives such as emotional healing and empowerment, access to legal support, financial independence, building support networks, and breaking the cycle of abuse. I feel like it is important to know that services may vary from individual to individual and not all the survivors will experience the same positive changes. However, the support and services provided by RENEW were instrumental in helping women rebuild their lives and move towards a brighter future.

The issues faced by women in Bhutan are complex and multi-faceted, requiring our attention and collective efforts to bring about positive change. It is evident that despite progress being made in recent years, there is still much work to be done to achieve gender equality in Bhutan. it is essential to approach
these issues with optimism and determination. Bhutan, as a nation known for its commitment to Gross National Happiness, has the potential to lead the way in promoting gender equality.

Additionally, it is imperative to engage all stakeholders, including government entities, civil society organizations, and individuals, in the conversation surrounding women’s issues.

By raising awareness, challenging stereotypes, and advocating for change, we can collectively create an environment where women can thrive and reach their full potential.

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us! →info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.98 (Web Newsletter)

Economic Growth, Climate Crisis and People’s Well-Being


Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University; Chairman, Japan Society for GNH Studies; Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Asian Breeze No.98

Asian Breeze No.98

Economic Growth, Climate Crisis and People’s Well-Being

 Professor Emeritus, Kyoto University; Chairman, Japan Society for GNH Studies; Senior Fellow, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

The “Era of Global Boiling” Has Arrived

On July 27, 2023, United Nations Secretary-General Juan Manuel Guterres stated that “the era of global warming is over and the era of global boiling has arrived”[1]. This was stated at a press conference following the release of official data by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirming that July will be the hottest month in human history.

The Secretary-General further stated.

“All of this is in perfect agreement with scientists’ predictions and repeated warnings. The only surprise is the speed of change. Climate change is here now. It is frightening. And it is only the beginning.” “It is still possible to limit the global temperature increase to less than 1.5°C and avoid the worst of climate change. But it can only be done through dramatic and immediate climate action. Accelerating temperature rise demands accelerated action. We can still stave off the worst. But to do so, we must turn a year of extreme heat into a year of ambition and accelerate climate action.”

Economic Growth and Human Well-Being

Economic growth since the Industrial Revolution has brought affluence to humanity, absolute poverty has shrunk, human life expectancy has increased, and the population has grown. Economic growth began in developed countries such as Europe and the United States, and since the latter half of the 20th century, economic globalization has spread to developing and middle-developed countries as well. At the same time, rapid population and economic growth have increased CO2 emissions and resource consumption, causing environmental destruction, resource depletion, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and other problems. Today, the Earth’s natural environment is approaching the limits of sustainability, and if left unchecked, the very foundations of human existence may be threatened in the future.

The purpose of economic growth is to increase incomes and enrich people’s lives. But does an increase in income really make people happier? The American economist Easterlin showed that life satisfaction has not improved despite an increase in real per capita income, which is known as the Easterlin Paradox[2]. Many subsequent studies on happiness have revealed that economic growth does not necessarily lead to greater happiness. It is the content of economic growth that is being questioned.

Economic development must operate within the “planetary boundary”[3](Fig 1). This is what British economist Kate Raworth calls the “doughnut economy”[4](Fig 2).

Fig 1 (source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html)

Fig 2 (source: https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics)

The outer edge of the doughnut-shaped diagram in Figure 2 represents the “ecological ceiling” line where human activities can take place without disrupting the planetary boundaries. On the other hand, the inner circle of the doughnut (the hole in the center) represents the “social foundation” such as food, shelter, education, and income, which is the basis of all human life. The “safe and just space for humanity” is defined as the area between the “ecological ceiling” on the outer edge of the doughnut and the “social foundation” on the inner circle, and economic activities within this range can improve human welfare while securing the social foundation without exceeding the planetary boundaries.

Once this doughnut economy is established, it will be possible to achieve the sustainable and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity demanded by the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and to create the conditions for rewarding and humane work, taking into account the different development stages and capacities of each country.

What Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) implies

Bhutan’s concept of GNH makes it clear that economic growth is not an “end” but a “means” to improve people’s happiness.

Bhutan has adopted GNH as an alternative national goal to Gross National Product (GDP), and utilizes it as a guideline for policy integration in actual administration.

Former King Wangchuck, the fourth king of Bhutan, who advocated GNH, had this to say: “What the people want is happiness. In addition to a minimum level of material wealth, it is important to have family and community ties, harmony between people and nature, history and culture that can be shared by the people.” These are what King Wangchuk described as GNH instead of GDP.

So how can the goal of achieving happiness be reflected in actual political and administrative structures? In Bhutan, GNH is not only a slogan, but also an indicator for its realization, and efforts are being made to institutionalize a concrete policy evaluation process within the government.

According to the GNH Commission, GNH is both a philosophy, an economic theory, and a practical policy objective. GNH as a philosophy that integrates traditional culture and modern science leads to a shift in development priorities, while GNH as an economic theory develops a critique of GDP and focuses on improving the spiritual, physical, and social well-being of people, both quantitatively and qualitatively. GNH as a policy objective articulates detailed priorities and means to achieve sustainable development.

Sustainable development in Bhutan’s National Environmental Strategy is defined as “the policy will and national capacity to maintain today’s development and environment so that future generations do not lose their unique cultural integration, historical heritage, and quality of life. In his speech, the fifth and current King Wangchuk expressed his belief that “GNH bridges the pursuit of economic growth with the fundamental values of kindness, equality, and compassion.”

GNH consists of four pillars: (1) sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development, (2) environmental conservation, (3) cultural promotion, and (4) good governance. These are further divided into nine areas: (1) standard of living, (2) health, (3) education, (4) ecological health, (5) culture, (6) psychological well-being, (7) work-life balance (use of time), (8) community vitality, and (9) good governance.

Based on the GNH approach, policy priorities are being reevaluated and indicators are being developed to quantitatively and qualitatively assess improvements in people’s mental, physical, and social well-being instead of GDP. GNH does not reject indicators such as the Human Development Index or GDP, but recognizes their characteristics and roles, and sees them as complementary.

However, there are many challenges to the sustainability of Bhutan’s economy and environment. New threats such as climate change are becoming a reality, and the consumerist civilization of the modern world will flow into Bhutan relentlessly as a result of globalization and the advancement of information technology, and the traditional values of the Bhutanese people might be changed. Bhutan’s future, as it seeks human and national development under severe natural and geopolitical circumstances, with GNH as its guiding principle and focusing on the welfare and happiness of its people, has much to offer to other countries in terms of considering how to achieve sustainable development and well-being of the people.

[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/07/1139162



[4] https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics

Profile of Mr. MATSUSHITA

Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Chairman of the Japan Society for GNH Studies. Before holding these positions, worked at several institutions including the Ministry of Environment of Japan, the Environment Directorate of the OECD, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and as Professor of Global Environmental Policy at the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies of Kyoto University. Major research areas are sustainability studies as well as climate change policies and global environmental policies from the viewpoint of environmental governance.

His major publications include “The 1.5°C Climate Crisis” (2022), “The Climate Crisis and the Corona Disaster” (2021), “Journey to Global Environmental Studies” (2011), “Recommendations for Environmental Policy Studies” (2007), “Environmental Governance” (2002), “Introduction to Environmental Politics” (2000), “Environment in the 21st Century and New Development Patterns” (2000)

Fig 1 (source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html)

Fig 2 (source: https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics)

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us!→info@kfaw.or.jp

Asian Breeze No.97 (Web Newsletter)

  • Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?
    – YAMAGUCHI Satoko, W7 Japan Steering Committee Member

  • CSW67 Meeting Summary Report
    – HORIUCHI Mitsuko, President of KFAW

  • CSW Field Report
    – OKUZAKI Reia, GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu

  • NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report
    – UENO Mayuko, A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

No. 97, August 2023

Asian Breeze No.97


  1. Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?
    – YAMAGUCHI Satoko, W7 Japan Steering Committee Member
  2. CSW67 Meeting Summary Report
    – HORIUCHI Mitsuko, President of KFAW
  3. CSW Field Report
    – OKUZAKI Reia
    GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu
  4. NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report
    – UENO Mayuko, A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

The G7 Hiroshima Summit was held from May 19 to 21. This issue of Asian Breeze features an article by Ms. YAMAGUCHI, who was involved in the summit as a member of W7 (Woman7).

KFAW also held the debriefing of the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) on 30 May 2023. CSW is one of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council. It meets annually around March at UN Headquarters in New York to formulate policies/actions on gender equality. Speakers at the debriefing were Ms. HORIUCHI, President of KFAW, Ms. OKUZAKI, a member of BPW Japan, and Ms. UENO, a staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division. The contents of each report are also posted.

Did the G7 Accelerate Gender Equality, or is it Just “Feminist Diplomacy” as Token?

 W7 Japan Steering Committee Member

It is probably fresh in your minds that the G7 Summit was held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21, 2023, and that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also participated in the Summit by surprise. I attended the G7 Hiroshima Summit to see what kind of discussions would take place among the leaders and what would be agreed upon, especially with regard to gender.

The Summit is a forum for the political leaders, and why I was given the opportunity to participate in it was by reason of my commitment in the Engagement Group. In recent years, there has been a lot of activities in making recommendations to the governments within G7 discussions from their respective fields, and the groups that conduct such advocacy in an official way are called the Engagement Groups. One such is the W7, which develops policy recommendations from a gender perspective and the standpoint of civil society. The G7 accounts for 40% of global GDP. Recognizing such impact, the W7 has consistently ensured participations from the Global South. At the same time, the W7 has incorporated the perspective of intersectionality, the idea that discriminations and oppressions intersect based on multiple characteristics such as disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and ethnicity, and has worked to ensure that those voices that have not been fully heard are reflected in the W7’s Communique. As a member of the W7 Steering Committee, I participated in the G7 Hiroshima Summit in order to monitor and lobby the process so that the Leaders’ Communiqué would be as gender-sensitive as possible.

While the major themes of the Summit were the situation in Ukraine and nuclear disarmament, gender issues were also discussed. The Leaders’ Communiqué, the outcome of the Summit, has a section dedicated to gender*1, as in the previous Summits, and states a commitment to “providing support for childcare and other field of care work and care economy“*2. It is also worth highlighting that the Communiqué recognizes the essential and transformative role of comprehensive SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) in supporting gender equality and diversity, including sexual orientations and gender identities*3.

On the other hand, throughout the Communiqué, it does not mention concrete measures to implement these commitments. For example, Paragraph 44 says “to make every effort to collectively increase the share of our bilateral allocable ODA advancing gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment over the coming years”, but a specific financial commitment with a clearly set timeframe should be accompanied. It is not enough to simply talk about ideals; the role of the G7 and politics is to take concrete measures including funding.

As for why Hiroshima was chosen as the venue of the Summit, Prime Minister Kishida explained “As the prime minister of Japan, the only country to have suffered the atomic bombings, there is no better than Hiroshima to show our commitment to peace”. And it was that Hiroshima where an agreement was reached to strengthen military assistance to Ukraine. The W7, which has called for a non-violent foreign policy, including reduction in military spending, as conflict disproportionately affects women and girls, expresses deep concerns that the Hiroshima Summit, while proclaiming peace, turned into an opportunity to increase arms supply.

On another note, following Germany’s Presidency last year, this year’s Leaders’ Communiqué also gave accounts of sexual minorities. We find adoption of the following sentence, “we strongly condemn all violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms for women and girls and LGBTQIA+ people around the world” as a step forward compared to the previous year*4.

A new engagement group, P7 (Pride7), was established this year to address the rights of sexual minorities, and W7 and P7 collaborated on joint press conferences and other activities during the Hiroshima Summit. Gender-based discrimination is not only directed between men and women, but also at sexual minorities who are seen as deviating from sexual normativity, so it is essential to work in solidarity.

In Japan, the law for the promotion of understanding of the LGBT was passed and enacted after the Hiroshima Summit. However, the legislation says ‘peace of mind’ of all citizens and prioritizes rights of majority. Now that the law is in effect, rather than strongly condemning all violations and abuses of human rights, the P7 Committee members castigate the politically driven attacks escalated on trans persons, in particular trans women as if they are threats to the safety and security of women, and question whether the Communique at the Hiroshima Summit was merely a diplomatic performance.

On June 24-25, about a month after the Hiroshima Summit, Japan’s first Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment was held. The three W7 representatives were given the opportunity to participate and engage in the discussions throughout the Meeting, as were the Ministers from each country. The W7 appreciates the meaningful engagement of the W7, composed of civil society organizations in the Gender Equality Ministerial Meeting as a way of inclusive decision-making.

The Joint Statement of the G7 Gender Equality Ministers adopted at the end of the Meeting, provided analysis that gender-based discriminations and violence have become increasingly complex and difficult to resolve due to COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts around the world, and emerging technologies. Given these situations, the Joint Statement concludes that “We will continue our efforts toward realizing a society where the human rights and dignity of all women, girls and LGBTQIA+ persons, are fully respected, promoted and protected. We are committed to fighting the backlash against gender equality.”

As a member of a civil society organization, I will continue to monitor governments and raise my voice to ensure that the G7countries and, of course Japan take substantive action promised in these Communiques.

*1 “G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué” Paragraph 42 to 44.

*2 Paragraph 36

*3 Paragraph 43

*4 Paragraph 43

Profile of Ms. YAMAGUCHI (she/her)

W7 Japan Steering Committee Member/ Generation Equality Youth Task Force Member/ Member of Board of Trustees, ICHIKAWA Fusae Center for Women and Governance

She was a former member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force set up by UN Women (August 2019 to November 2021) and a young women’s program coordinator at YWCA of Japan, where she has worked on youth-led and intergenerational movements building, developing strategies, coordinating programs and campaigns, and conducting lectures at various levels from grassroots to international political arena for gender equality.

CSW67 Meeting Summary Report

– HORIUCHI Mitsuko
 President of KFAW

The priority theme of CSW67 is “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”

Because this was discussed only by the delegates, UN Women sees the challenges of the digital world as described before. There is much discrimination and exclusion of women in the digital world: only 22% of the AI-related workforce is female, and 44.2% of AI systems are said to have a gender – bias.

This year’s CSW67 was the first time Youth Forum was held. Although I do not have enough information on the details, youth involvement in gender equality is much wanted.


CSW Field Report

 GOTEN Resort, Inc. and member of BPW Japan, graduated from the University of Kitakyushu

I participated in CSW67 from March 5 to March 16. I would like to introduce some of the events that left a deep impression on me.

One was a discussion on digital education hosted by the Canadian NGO. An NGO speaker said that digital education in compulsory schools is good until the age of 15, and that exposure to digital in childhood changes attitudes toward digital. She also talked about gender gap in digital is creating a new gender inequality. I felt that digital education must be provided at an earlier age in Japan.

Another thing is about the International Women’s Day. There was an events organized by UN WOMEN and held in the General Assembly Hall. One of the memorable moment was to say “You are beautiful” to each other, and the entire Hall echoed with voices saying “You are beautiful.” I felt very happy to be there.

During participating in CSW67, BPW Japan held a parallel event under the theme of “How to make actions for gender mainstreaming in entrepreneurship.” We had a presentation by Ms. KIKUCHI Moana who runs a business in Tanzania, and had a group discussion. Forty-two people attended the event, including those from United Kingdom, Republic of Kores and France.

Participating in CSW67, I was very much impressed by great energy shown by participants. I got encouragement and confidence to continue my activities. The participants with a variety of backgrounds and role models will open up new possibilities for my future. I had the opportunity to meet youth reporters from other NGO, who had different reasons and identities for participating, which stimulated me and motivated me to continue my activities.

NGO Forum Parallel Event Participation Report

– UENO Mayuko
 A staff of KFAW in International Exchange Division

On 11 March, I participated in a parallel event organized by Japanese Association of International Women’s Rights (JAIWR). The theme of my own presentation was “Online Training on Gender Mainstreaming Training for Government Officers in Developing Countries.” KFAW is commissioned by JICA Kyushu to provide training to government officers in developing countries. The training has continued for 30 years, from 1992 to 2022, with 486 administrative officers from 91 countries.

The advantage of online training is that there is no need to travel. It is also considered effective for people with disabilities, caregivers and childcare providers. As stated in Article 10 of the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, “elimination of discrimination in education,” online training can be used to provide opportunities for those who have not had access to education for various reasons. In addition, by recording videos, trainees can watch programmes over and over again resulting better understanding.

However, there are challenges with online. One of the challenges might be internet access in developing countries. In light of the above advantages and challenges of online training, I would like to apply this experience to my future work. In general, it goes without saying that face to face meetings are really much better than Video conferences.

In light of the above advantages and challenges of online training, I would like to make use of this experience to my future works.

Thank you for reading. Any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Email us!→info@kfaw.or.jp