Empowering women is essential for societal change, declares the Director-General in Japan
"Empowering girls and women across the world is probably one of the biggest challenges to generate societal change," declared Irina Bokova on the occasion of the symposium and debate on Women in Science and Education at Kobe University in Japan.
During her visit to Japan, the Director-General participated in a symposium on gender equality in sciences and scientific education in the presence of Mr. Hideki Fukuda, the President of Kobe University - one of the oldest in Japan, as well as Professor and 2008 L'Oreal Prize Winner Ingrid Scheffer, Dr. Yoshie Soma, Special Adviser to the University President, and Professor Roumiana Tsenkova, Director of Gender Equality Office at Kobe University.
The debate was attended by some 100 professors and students, and focused on current challenges in gender equality in sciences and education from Japan's perspective and in the wider international context.
Participants shared their assessment that education is simply not yet sufficiently effective in promoting genuine gender equality since stereotypes remain strong with regard to women's role in society. Deliberate measures were said to be needed at the policy level but also in global businesses, decision-making and the media in order to enhance gender parity.
"There is no unique solution, but we need to involve women more systematically to start creating change," stated Irina Bokova.
She concluded by commending the government of Japan for the enforcement of public measures to promote a dedicated Support System for Female Researchers, providing training to enhance opportunities for young-talented women in science research. She highlighted positively also the commitment taken by Kobe University, embodied in its adoption in 2010 of the Female Researchers in Science Project and Training "Kobe Style".
The Director-General's visit was concluded by her participation in the roundtable hosted by Tomorrow's Kyoto Cultural Heritage Platform, together with Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, the President of the Platform, Mr. Raitei Arima, Director of the Kyoto Buddhist Organization, Mr. Keiji Yamadan Governor of Kyoto Prefecture, Mr. Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto, and Mr. Ghenshitsu Sen, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
The Platform explored the intrinsic linkages between world heritage and intangible cultural heritage, which is embedded in the living tradition of the city and which drives Kyoto's community engagement and deliberate commitment towards disaster-risk prevention in the future.