Expanding opportunities for women to join Japan’s workforce is a centerpiece of the “Abenomics” economic revival strategy proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In fact, it has its own name: “Womenomics.” Prime Minister Abe’s hope is that bringing more women into the labor pool will spur economic growth after decades of stagnation. Despite laws that have guaranteed equal employment opportunities for women since 1986, some 70 percent of women still choose to leave the workforce after having children. Some analysts have estimated that Japan could increase its GDP by as much as 13 percent if women joined the workforce at the same rate as their counterparts in other OECD countries.
To solve this problem, Japan will have to relieve cultural and social pressures that have built up for decades. Prime Minister Abe has launched “Womenomics” with one fundamental aim: to promote better conditions for women who work. Can Japan unleash the economic power of women to revitalize its economy? How large might the “Womenomics” dividend be? What lessons can Japan borrow from the rest of the world, or offer other countries facing similar challenges? The Asia Society Policy Institute is pleased to invite you to a discussion of these questions by a panel of distinguished experts.
Carol Gluck is the George Sansom Professor of History and Professor of East Asian Language and Cultures at Columbia University. She is co-chair of the Trustees Emeriti of Asia Society.
Joanna Barsh, Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Co., is a strong advocate for women. She is the best-selling author of How Remarkable Women Lead. She has also served on New York City’s Commission on Women’s Issues.
Naoko Ogawa is the Senior Manager for Women’s Empowerment at Keidanren, the most influential business organization in Japan. In this capacity, she is in charge of coordinating with the Japanese corporations to implement “Womenomics.”
Henny Sender (moderator) is the chief correspondent of international finance for the Financial Times. She was based in Tokyo for five years and in Hong Kong for ten years, covering institutional investor and finance. She is also a member of the Coucil on Foreign Relations.
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