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Working Together For
Women's Empowerment.

WE Int., committed to lifting up women and shedding light on their work, introduces its members as part of the series #SheInspires. In this post, we introduce to you Majo (María José Valverde) through a short video interview.

Majo is originally from Costa Rica. She has done a Dual Master's from the Graduate School of Public Policy and Sciences Po, and an internship in International organization focusing on climate finance in Korea.

In this video, she mentioned why she's interested in gender issues and how she found mentor advise helped her understand multiple culture in Japan and nurture young workers.

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The second session of our six-part discussion series Period rediscovered. focused on period products. How many period products can you name? We discussed:

  • pads

  • reusable cloth pads

  • washable underwear

  • menstrual cup

  • menstrual sponge

  • menstrual disc

The discussion was supported by our advisors, Dr. Magali Matsumiya, Dr. Yosuke Matsumiya and Dr. Sonia Tsukagoshi. First, we presented a short introduction of each product with their characteristics including cost, whether they are insertable or not; reusable or not; etc. Then, a lively open discussion took place as the audience shared personal experiences of trying different products, or asked questions that they are curious about. The menstrual cup came up as a quite popular product among the event attendees as it allows for comfort while doing sports (e.g swimming) and it’s reusable (better for the environment). However, those who use it emphasized that there is a learning curve in finding out which brand and how it work best.

Some important points to note are:

  • The products discussed are period products. Although some of them can be used during intercourse, they are not a contraceptive.

  • Listen to your body and honor your preferences and values! There is no particular hierarchy between the products. We do not recommend a specific product. We recommend you to try and see what feels best for you!

  • If trying new period products, expect a learning curve!

For more information please check the infographic below! For the infographics from all sessions check under the Resources Tab.

Stay updated with our next events here!

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WE Int., committed to lifting up women and shedding light on their work, introduces its members as part of the series #SheInspires. In this article, we introduce to you Zilola Husenovna, who was born in Uzbekistan and now is a doctoral student at Keio University. Zilola said she's fortunate to be encouraged to do more by her parents compared with many girls in Uzbekistan.

"I realized that without changing the community’s thinking, a lot of other open-minded mothers and a lot of young girls are going to fall into depression."

Read about her story and what she's working on for encouraging girls to lead their own life in the future.

1.Tell us about yourself.

Born in the beautiful historical city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, I am indeed an oriental girl. Grew up surrounded by the love and constant care of the family with two siblings. Being an intermediate child, I have had quite an independent spirit from my childhood. I remember deciding that I don’t want to attend the music classes, but instead want to go to extra English classes! Although not proud of ending up not playing any instrumental music, I am very happy with the effort I put into learning English. It not only helped me enter one of the top 3 universities in Uzbekistan but also gave me an awesome opportunity to meet amazing people from all around the world!

2. What is your passion in life? What are you working on?

I am extremely passionate about life itself, but if you ask me what I am doing from the social context, I am a doctoral student at Keio University. The awe I got from studying abroad lead to immense love for education. The best part is, of course, meeting awesome people on the way! Being gratefully overwhelmed with the community I am in, listening to various stories of fellow international students in Japan, I decided to research it! So, I am working on studying “Network building of international students in Japan”, the results of which will, hopefully, help international students to have an even more meaningful, fruitful, and amazing international education experience!

3. How's gender equality in your country? What’s your perspective on Japan’s gender equality movements?

The gender equality situation in Uzbekistan is not one of the best in the world. I would say it is one of the worst, actually. There is an embedded strong notion of being a “girl” or a “boy” from the day kids are born. “You are a girl, you should help clean in the house”, “You are a girl, you will become a mother, so learn how to take care of kids by looking after small kids around”, “You are a girl, so don’t even think about going to university!” “Why does a girl need to study at all?”, etc. These are some of the very common notions one can hear. I was one of those fortunate girls who was only encouraged to do more and to study more by my parents whenever I showed my passion! I am very grateful to them for not blocking my way towards studying in Japan, (for many, many girls in Uzbekistan the situation is not this fortunate!)

4. What was your motivation to join WE Int.? Do you have anything you want to share with members?

Because of the unfortunate situation for many girls in Uzbekistan, a whole lot of them are never encouraged to discover anything, everything is decided by everyone else. This leads to bitter feelings, depression, and mental health disorders in many women at some point in their life. COVID-19 caused my mom to have depression. However, the main reason for her depression was “the comments” by the community telling about “How unfortunate she is to have a daughter who is in good age and still unmarried!” She started blaming herself for making me “unhappy”, while I, on the other, hand am tremendously grateful that she always let me choose my path.

After seeing that nothing I am saying is really helpful, I realized that without changing the community’s thinking, a lot of other open-minded mothers and a lot of young girls are going to fall into depression. Having this in mind, I started a project of interviewing girls who study abroad, so that my mother and other parents in Uzbekistan can see what the girls who study abroad are like. This initiative led me to meet one of the WE Int.’s members. It is amazing how the most important people just appear in your life just at the right time! This is how I met Lilly and happily joined the like-minded awesome members of WE Int.!

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