The 27th Global Summit of Women

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Ma. Isabel Ongpin

Last of 2 parts
THE 27th Global Summit of Women took place in Tokyo from May 11 to 12 featuring important speakers addressing women’s issues.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address was interesting and inspiring. Japan has a labor shortage and a gender gap in business. It has now instituted a policy to bring women into the workforce by attracting them with equal pay, gender diversity programs, education and the goal of having women take 30 percent of management positions by 2030. This is not only the opening for Japanese women but the future of Japan’s economy. It is to be hoped that the program succeeds.

Environment was also on the agenda with technology underpinning it. According to Japan Air Lines, its business has to co-exist with the earth so as to nurture future generations to live well. It also finds environmental ways to contribute to regional communities. In the Tohoku area (the scene of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami) where rice cannot be grown because of the salt content in the soil at present, they have helped the farmers switch to cotton because this crop is not affected by the salt in the soil. It observes atmospheric conditions to monitor the effects of global warning, such as gases, and acts to minimize or avoid their bad effects. It also has health programs and remedies for its employees who get sick, nurturing cancer patients through their treatment and employing them when declared fit for work.

Entrepreneurship by women was a big topic, with leading entrepreneurs describing the ideas they had which they grew to successful businesses, or how when they failed, they worked and succeeded in recovering and moving on to better times. Chit Juan was in a panel of entrepreneurs describing their business ideas and how they were brought to fruition. She presented the ECHO store (for Environment, Community, Hope, Operations) which facilitates the marketing of community products from small business producers. ECHO stores will now sell online, underlining the reality that any modern business must move into technology.

All in all, it was an intense two days of education, discussion, interaction and connections.

I went not because I’m engaged in business per se but to try to understand how traditional textiles can become part of the modern world. I am also a friend of Irene Natividad and have attended some Global Summits of Women before. In the early days we would be from 3 to 4 Filipinas, moving on to 7 to 8; for 2017 there were 46 of us. Yet we are behind China (96), Vietnam ((80 plus) and Kazakhstan (70 plus).

This year, purely by serendipity, I met Mr. Toshio Moriki from Kyoto who said his organization was replicating eighth-century Japanese traditional textiles, showing me the designs and colors they use. A lively exchange of information followed and a promise to keep in touch so as to keep up and learn from each other about our respective advocacies.

While some people found the time to go shopping, I did not. The exchange was a lot of learning and interacting.

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