A leading global business and economic forum for women will come to Tokyo for the first time next year, founder Irene Natividad announced Wednesday, saying she hopes the event will empower women in Japan.
The annual Global Summit of Women, organized by Washington-based nonprofit organization Globe Women, is scheduled for May 11 to 13 in Tokyo, bringing together female leaders from the private and public sectors to discuss ways to increase women’s economic opportunities.
Often referred to as the women’s version of the World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of business and government leaders in Davos, Switzerland, the gathering draws around 1,000 participants from 80 countries. It has been held since 1990.
Natividad said past participants have ranged from the chairwoman of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to the head of one of Greece’s biggest shipping companies.
She said she wants to break stereotypes by showing what women are able to achieve. “I will bring those women to Japan so women can see what is possible in terms of leadership and what is achievable,” Natividad told a gathering in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
She described this year’s gathering, which took place last month in Warsaw. Around 1,000 women from 74 countries were present, she said. “Our focus is not so much on the problems that women face but more on solutions,” Natividad said. “It’s very practical in its intent. It is not meant to develop statements with possible solutions, but rather, what are the solutions that already exist and how we can share them with each other.”
Although Japan notoriously lags other countries in terms of gender equality, Natividad said discrimination is universal. “The basic problems are the same in every country, it’s just the question of degree,” Natividad said. “There is no country that has solved sex discrimination in the workplace. … The pay gap is the same whether you are in the U.S., or Norway, or Japan.”
But rather than lament such deeply rooted gender gaps in the business world, she said she wants participants to discuss concrete measures to solve the issue.
Natividad added, although the event is for women, it also welcomes male participants. “Because we don’t discriminate.”
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