Nov 21, 2020
[Column] A Message for Young People and Girls

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version

Nov. 21, 2020.     Noyuri Mima


 The U.S. presidential election, which has been all over the media every day for the past month or so, is over. Among other things, I noted that the first female vice president will be born for this time. Her mother is an immigrant from India and her father is an immigrant from Jamaica. I’m sure her parents’ efforts, as well as her own, were extraordinary.

 In her speech when she was assured of becoming Vice President, she sent a message to all the girls who witnessed the situation about the possibilities of having a dream and following through on your beliefs. It reached Japan as well.

 I remember here a speech a female candidate gave four years ago when she was defeated in the presidential election. At that time, she also gave a powerful message to young people and girls. She said I couldn’t break the glass ceiling this time, but I am sure that one day soon, someone else will do it. You have value, you have power, you have the chance to do many things.

 It’s a shame that young people and girls in Japan rarely have the opportunity to see these powerful speeches.

 Every December, the World Economic Forum releases its Gender Gap Index, which shows the gender imbalance. The index is based on data from the economic, political, educational and health sectors and is published in country rankings. Last year, Japan ranked 121st out of 153 countries. The year before that, it ranked 110th out of 149 countries. Low political participation is the reason for the drop in the ranking.

 Why do we need more women politicians? This summer, I had an experience that made it clear why.

 It happened when I attended an event about breast cancer. I learned that, compared to other cancers, breast cancer has its own set of problems. It can also cause layoffs due to prolonged treatment, which is especially serious for single-parent families.

 A participant from Canada told us about the sickness allowance system. I think we need it in Japan, and getting it institutionalized depends on parliamentarians themselves being able to understand the significance of it, who can reflect it in their policy decisions.

 The year 2020 will mark exactly 100 years since women’s suffrage was recognized in the U.S. In Japan, women’s suffrage was first recognized in 1945. What will happen to women’s political participation in Japan in 2045?

 After the vaccines and cures for the current epidemic are completed and things have settled down, the social situation will be difficult. I hope we can work together to figure out how to rebuild our lives and economy, while considering the message we send to young people and girls.