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Message from the Director

Prof. Atsuko Iwanami
Director, Office for Gender Equality
Vice-President, Keio University

Atsuko Iwanami

Japanese society is currently undergoing drastic changes.
As the birthrate declines and the population grays at a growing pace, educating the next generation and securing a labor force are issues of the utmost importance that society as a whole must face. Moreover, due to drastic changes in the demographic structure, we are in need of new models of social participation and more flexible working environments. Issues surrounding life events such as marriage, childbirth, child-rearing, and nursing care are no longer issues which women face alone, but require "collaboration" and "synergy," phrases which express social contribution regardless of gender or generation.

In 1870, at a time when Japan was still heavily influenced by former feudal society, Keio's founder Yukichi Fukuzawa advocated his belief in gender equality throughout his life, writing in his A Letter of Farewell to Nakatsu, "Each man and woman is equally a person between Heaven and earth and therefore there is no reason for a difference in importance between them." Educational institutions have a more important role to play than ever as spaces which cultivate flexible, diverse values unrestricted by existing frameworks, which include gender biases and differences, in a time of transition from a society in which everyone shares the same life events in a uniform life plan to a society in which individuals can freely choose how to live for themselves.

The Office for Gender Equality was established at Keio University in March 2009 as a platform to communicate and share new points of view. We strive to bring about a more open society through our mission of training the next generation of intellectual leaders.

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