Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivering his address to open the forum.

Various distinguished female leaders from around the world have urged women and men to cooperate to create a society where they can live more fulfilling lives.

Significant women's issues were recently discussed at the World Assembly for Women (WAW) in Japan, in an effort to achieve a society where women shine.

This year's WAW from August 28-29 was the second time the forum has been held, with around 150 delegates coming together from 40 countries and eight international organisations, surpassing the number of participants attending last year's symposium.

In his opening speech to greet women leaders and guests to the forum Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said one of the priority issues of his administration was getting women and men working to create society together.

He noted the biggest challenge facing Japan was the declining population, brought about by an aging society and falling birth-rates.

In the past, there was a widely-seen tendency for a higher rate of female labour force participation to cause a lower birth rate. And yet, in the present day, the developed nations leading the world in the active engagement of women have both a high women's labour force participation ratio and a high birth rate simultaneously.

When both men and women were able to make highly productive jobs compatible with their bountif ul daily lives they would be able to lead more fulfilled lives as individuals, as well as within their families and communities. The dynamic engagement of women would also enrich men's lives, he mentioned.

Mr Abe detailed a new policy under which the percentage of wom en among newly-hired national public servants would exceed 30 percent in the government as a whole, and how they attained managerial candidate targets by increasing the percentage of women hired by 10.4 percent compared with last fiscal year, to 34.3 percent.

“This summer, over 30 companies have been conducting a programme that allows female junior and senior high school students to experience jobs in the sciences at construction sites and factories,” Mr Abe said.

“We will enable female university students to gain an interest in scientific and technological fields and draw up fulfilling career plans from their junior and senior high school days. We will also support women in starting businesses. When women launch businesses they cultivate new demand and bring vitality to local areas.”

Mr Abe also explained how his government would strive for a society in which it was easy for all people, both women and men, to live. He would spare no effort to create that kind of society in Japan and also in the world.

President of the Lao National Assembly Ms Pany Yathortou also addressed the WAW noting that during the conference she had the opportunity to listen to various distinguished female leaders and speakers rich in experience and knowledge.

“All of them are a great inspiration to women to continue our determination to move forward,” she said.

She noted that Laos had pushed strongly for increased representation of female parliamentarians, while also advocating the adoption of legislation that aimed to protect and promote women's rights, and increasing the budget for education, health, rural development, and poverty reduction, all of which were very much related to Lao women.

“But while some progress has been made, Lao women are still facing challenges in exercising their rights. Laos will continue to implement existing key initiatives and activities to ensure their fuller participation in and access to all areas of public life.”

“These activities strengthen capacity of relevant organisations towards the protection and promotion of the rights of women and children, and the advancement of women and gender equality.”

Other initiatives included promoting women's access to all services including education, information and health along with professional and skills development and access to finance.

Laos was also enhancing awareness and knowledge of policies and legislation related to the protection and promotion of the rights of women, she said.

This would create favourable conditions for women to participate in all areas of life including manufacturing, entrepreneurship, civil service, and leadership such as women parliamentarians and members of local councils.

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*Originally published on Vientiane Times on September 10, 2015

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