Get inspired by stories of change, take action by donating to World YWCA
Nanako had completed her graduation and was looking for volunteering opportunities on the internet when she came across the YWCA and immediately felt motivated to join. What piqued her interest was that the YWCA provided accommodations to international students, a cohort with whom she had actively engaged with at the university.
Nanako is passionate about her work with the students of Japan. She organises leadership trainings and workshops for school students. She believes it is important to mobilise and support the values of leadership at an early age, so that young girls can demand their rightful place in the society.
Nanako is receptive to the needs of young people and is driven by evidence and realities of the community. She engages school students in conversations about the potential of advocating on digital platforms and the role of mainstream media to influence conscious thinking. She addresses the challenges of workplace frustration among young working women, and the high levels of stress among university students.
Before the pandemic, she would visit educational institutions to communicate with students directly. She now hosts awareness sessions and training workshops online. To build camaraderie between the students, she often organises group-based recreational activities where they share their favourite music, books and movies. And Nanako uses the opportunity to analyse them with a gender lens.
With her community-based leadership approach, Nanako is encouraging an atmosphere of mutual exchange and shared learnings. Despite the fact that sexual and reproductive health and rights are largely unspoken about in Japan, Nanako has been able to persuade young women and girls to talk to her about the changes in their body and needs.
While it might seem like the world is progressing, there’s still a long way to go for equal rights. At home, young women don’t find the safe space to address questions about their body with their families. At work, the culture is mostly sexist. In married households, women are primarily seen as homemakers and caretakers of the children. But these same women are noticing a shift in their own perspectives.
With a focus on building skills, confidence and knowledge exchange, Nanako has been able to encourage a sustained increase in participation of young women and girls. This has led to the creation of a pool of young aspiring women who are willing to think big and pursue their dreams. Nanako’s next goal is to lead more women into decision-making roles in Japan.