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World Assembly for Women - Japan works for gender equality

By Staff Writer
December 16, 2022
Panelists at WAW
The World Assembly for Women, which is often shortened as WAW!, is a conference series that have been held since 2014 as part of the Japanese government's efforts to realize gender equality and women's empowerment. In addition to registering the results of the discussions in a United Nations document, various side events are held to raise momentum for gender equality in Japan as a whole. Top leaders from around the world in a wide range of fields are invited to discuss various issues facing Japan and the world.

WAW! Has been held five times so far in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019. WAW! in 2020 was planned but was postponed.

In 2014, WAW! was held on September 12th and 13th, as a part of the Abe administration's efforts to realize a "society where women shine," one of the most important issues of the administration. The event was attended by Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other top leaders active in the field of women from around the world and Japan, who discussed initiatives to promote women's activities in Japan and around the world.
Speakers seated at one of the recent WAW! Conferences
High-Level Roundtable, with then-Foreign Minister Kishida at the Closing Session
WAW! 2015 took place on August 28th and 29th in 2015. Approximately 150 female leaders from about 40 countries and 8 international organizations, including Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first privately elected female president, participated in the event. From Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister at that time, Mr. Fumio Kishida, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Haruko Arimura ,the Minister in Charge of Women's Empowerment, Mr. Katsunobu Kato, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mrs. Akie Abe, the spouse of the Prime Minister, and others attended.
Fumio Kishida, then Foreign Minister, speaks at the opening of an event
Then-Foreign Minister Kishida speaks at the opening session
WAW! 2016 was held on December 13th and 14th. In addition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address to the attendees, Ms. Marne Levine, COO of Instagram gave a keynote speech. After WAW! 2016, suggestions were gathered for WAW! To Do 2016. Topic discussions included Promoting the development and advancement of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, Work-Life Management 2.0, Women's Health - Improving Health and Rights, Especially in Relation to Sexuality and Reproduction, Women's Participation and Empowerment in Peace and Security, What kind of gender-equal society do young people want to create - Current Situation and Challenges?, and Innovation from rural areas: What is a society where women "truly" shine?

November 1st through 3rd saw WAW! 2017. The theme is "WAW in a Changing World! The participants discussed what power women can bring to transform the world into a diverse and inclusive society where "no one is left behind" including women, which is the goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what actions various stakeholders should take to achieve this goal. As a result, in order to promote women's advancement in a changing world, the participants discussed the following issues: "raising awareness through education and training," "promoting women's participation at all levels," "collecting, analyzing, and disclosing data," and "promoting the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and information and communication technologies (ICT). The five pillars of the report are: "Raise awareness through education and training," "Promote women's participation at all levels," "Collect, analyze, and disclose data," "Actively utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and information and communication technologies (ICT)," and "Strengthen partnerships.

The 5th WAW was hosted as 5th WAW!/ W20 on March 23rd and 24th in 2019. W20 is one of the G20 engagement groups. It is an organizational body that provides policy recommendations on women to the G20. The Engagement Groups are influencing the formation of the new international economic order by providing policy recommendations to G20 leaders. This WAW was opened with an opening address by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As the chair of the G20 Osaka Summit, Abe emphasized his continued commitment to expanding educational opportunities for girls in developing countries and his proposal for a world in which all girls have access to at least 12 years of quality education.

The representatives of the Women 20 (W20) network have asked the G20 leaders to act on the following recommendations

  • (1) Request their labour and employment ministers to present a mid-term report on the 2014 Brisbane commitment to reduce the gender gap in labour force participation by 25 percent by 2025 during the 2020 G20.
  • (2) Remove systemic legal and social barriers in the labour market and provide solutions for achieving gender equality.
  • (3) Close the digital gender gap and ensure that women can exercise their digital rights.
  • (4) Ensure financial inclusion, promote women’s entrepreneurship, and accelerate access to investment and markets.
  • (5) Promote life-long learning, and education on gender equality in schools and workplaces, to eliminate gender stereotypes and unconscious bias.
  • (6) End all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including social media.
  • (7) Establish effective and transparent governance and accountability mechanisms for achieving gender equality.

The next WAW! is planned in December 2nd, 2022. The period before and after WAW!2022 (Monday, October 3 through Sunday, February 5, 2023), is designated as WAW! Weeks. In this period, official side events to promote gender equality and women's empowerment, which are the purpose of the International Conference on Women will be held.
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