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 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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On Saturday March 20, WomEnpowered International hosted the first session of Period rediscovered., a six-part talk series on menstruation and women’s health. The first session “Why We Menstruate” focused on the biological and physiological explanation of menstruation.

We welcomed Dr. Yosuke Matsumiya, medical doctor specializing in obsteritics and gynaecology, who provided an informative and fascinating presentation on the menstrual mechanism. His presentation importantly redefined the meaning of “normal” period - a concept that pressures many women who are fed with inaccurate information. Please look forward to our infographic summary of the key takeaways from the lecture! You can also access Dr. Matsumiya's presentation here.

One of the reasons we invited a male speaker for the first session was to invite men into the audience, in order to make conversation on periods not only about women, but also of all people. As a result, six men (one-third of the participants!) attended and learned about menstruation together with women. We hope to promote more gender inclusion when discussing menstruation and women’s health, because menstruation is not only relevant to women, but also relevant to all humans!

Full recording of the session is available only to WE Int. members and event participants. Please contact to access the recording.

Next session, #2 Period Products will take place on Sunday, April 18.

Please make sure to register from this sign-up form!

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Updated: Apr 2

On March 16th, we held a panel discussion talking about the documentary film "It's just our family. The lively discussion focused on the journey of Elin, a linguistics professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, who 2 years ago registered her female identity in the U.S. as part of her gender transition process, and the film which captures that journey, directed by Ameya.

Watch the film trailer here:

Film Screening:

At the beginning of the event, Ameya and Elin revealed the trust that developed between them in the process of capturing the intimate bond and personal space of Elin and her family. Of course, not all that was captured made it to the final cut. Ameya and Elin offered very intriguing insight behind the decision of what should be released and what not.

An important point that Elin highlighted in the conversation is that her story is not a representation of every trans person story in Japan. Indeed, she recognizes that her case is somewhat different in terms of her background, nationality, profession.

The conversation touched upon a variety of topics:

  • Elin, as a linguist and an academic, shared her thoughts on the meaning of terms such as 'father' and 'mother';

  • Ameya pinpointed the importance of intersectional thinking, connecting different forms of discrimination based on sex and race and reminded the essential need we all have to feel relevant in our communities;

  • They highlighted the importance to not be hesitant to participate in the conversation challenging the concepts of love, marriage, family. Although the topic can be sensitive, we must open to make mistakes and be as graceful as possible while we still engage in the conversation.

Elin and Ameya were asked to share their call to action with the audience:

1. Say something, do something - things will change

In Elin's perspective, it is crucial to raise our voice when something feels wrong. Silence can preserve social norms that no longer serve us. Often social norms are naturalized and taken for granted, but they can change, social attitudes can change. For that to happen, we need to act in situations where we observe unfairness.

2. Individual, community, corporate - where do you care to change

Ameya underlined that we have the power to change the status quo on different levels: as individuals, as participants in our communities, and most importantly in the capitalist society we live in - as a driving force in our corporations.

Watch the full discussion:

We hope you enjoyed the event!

Event team:

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