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June 1996 - Issue No. #23 (p. 18)

WELL: Women in Education and Language Learning

Global Forum: Women Creating the Future

by Alice Wahl Lachman

The Global Forum on Women Creating the Future, sponsored by Saitama Prefecture, was held April 20-21, 1996 in Omiya, Japan. The conference brought together 4,000 women and men including Gertrude Mongella (Secretary General, UN Conference on Women), Irene Santiago (Director, NGO Women's Forum), Vigdis Finnbogadottir (President, Republic of Iceland) and a host of articulate and committed Japanese women including Mariko Bando (Vice Governor, Saitama Prefecture), Yasuko Yamashita (Director, Japan Association of International Women's Rights), Reiko Aoki (Vice President, International Federation of University Women) and Mitchiko Nakamura (President, UN Development Fund for Women - Japan).

During the conference, Gertrude Mongella remarked that Japanese women have the highest state of development yet the lowest stage of decision making, noting that women in Africa have more decision making powers, and Irene Santiago reminded the audience that 1 out of 6 women at the UN conference in Beijing was a Japanese woman.

The Forum's final declaration called for the creation of a society in which every man and woman can participate fully and equally. This recognized the need to respect the invaluable roles played by women and men in the family, the local community, the school and the workplace, to create a society where everyone is guaranteed full participation in all sectors of society in accordance with his or her free will and aspirations, and where everyone has the opportunity to develop and express their abilities, and use them to benefit society. Declaration excerpts:

  1. We encourage active participation by women in all areas of policy and decision making in order to make full use of women's abilities and experiences.

  2. We support all forms of education which serve to raise women's aspirations and increase their skills

  3. We encourage and support the active role of women's social movements in promoting world peace and social development

  4. It is necessary to foster an environment where the old can live in comfort and children can be born and raised in safety. We support those engaged in caring, nursing and child rearing activities and acknowledge the vital role these services play in today's society.

  5. Violence against women in the forms of speech, written word, images and actions is a violation of women's rights. We therefore call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and support for its victims.

The creation of a society where women and men can participate on equal terms depends on the action and thoughts of every man and woman in every sector of society. It can only be achieved if efforts are made on the national, local and individual level, in both private and public institutions, to cooperate and overcome the problems that face us all. It is through these efforts and an increase in international cooperation that we will realize our goal of creating a society with a truly global perspective where women and men will live and work in harmony and equality.

WELL: Women in Education and Language Learning

WELL is open to any woman teaching or studying any language in Japan. Its aims:

  • to increase contact among women in institutions concerned with teaching

  • to raise consciousness, provide expertise and encourage women to fulfill their potential

  • to improve opportunities and maximize opportunities for women in teaching

  • to provide personal and professional support

  • to guard against sexism in materials and to help women cope with sexism at work


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650