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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 Mahi Patki, who is majoring in environmental science at the University of Tokyo.

Born in Pune, India. lived in China and England for the 12 years, Mahi found her passion for environmental issues in high school. Read what initiatives she's working on for empowering women from her experience!



1.Tell us about yourself. What is the background you grew up in?


My name is Mahi Patki. I was born in Pune, India. I lived in China and England before coming to Japan where I spent the past 12 years of my life. I am currently majoring in environmental science in the undergraduate PEAK program, at the University of Tokyo. Looking back, I think that I grew up in a bubble, going from one international community to the other, and was oblivious to gender inequality. Perhaps that was just because it is so deeply institutionalized that people no longer realize that we have huge gender disparity. After entering high school, I became a lot more aware, my perspective changed, and I started gaining more interest in feminism.


In summer 2020, when the Japanese government was giving out masks to each household, the students at the dorms I live in also received care packages with disposable and cloth masks. After comparing with my friends, I realized that all the male students had received plain black or white cloth masks, while the female students were given floral patterned masks in different colors. Although I appreciated receiving free masks during a pandemic, I was baffled by the need to make this distinction. It may seem insignificant, but small instances like this remind me that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality.





2. What was your motivation to join WE Int.?


In 2020, I interviewed some of the founding members of WE Int. and the project lead for the En Tendedero Project, to write an article for Komaba Times (a student-led English-language magazine at the University of Tokyo). I was inspired by the stories they shared, and I knew that I just had to be part of this community. I am a work-in-progress feminist, and there is so much to learn about gender-related issues. WE Int. hosts such a variety of events that can help me navigate through and make sense of the plethora of gender equality issues. Even more than that, I feel supported and believe that by joining WE Int. there are so many inspiring women that I can reach out to and learn from.


3. What is gender equality to you? What is your passion towards gender equality?


Gender equality is at a fundamental level is when everyone is treated equally irrespective of their gender. It is a basic human right and essential for the optimum functioning of society. My passion for gender equality comes from this ‘grrr’ feeling I get inside me when something is not fair. I want to understand this feeling by studying and taking informed actions to create change. Gender-related discrimination has been going on for so long that sometimes even women do not see it. I want to continue to challenge my own perceptions, as well as norms and cultural traditions that make it so difficult for gender equality to be achieved.



4. What would you like to achieve through WE Int.? Why do you think it’s important to promote it?


My passion for environmental issues sparked in high school when I started an environmental team to tackle the issue of excessive plastic waste generated by students in my school. This project inspired me to attempt to reduce my own single-use waste and highlighted the alarming amount of waste that came from the pads that I used on my period. Upon investigation, I came across a more sustainable alternative: reusable cloth pads, and started using them. Although they generated less plastic waste I found them uncomfortable and mendokusai to clean. I finally bought a menstrual cup and am currently getting the hang of using it. Menstruation adds an extra struggle to the already complicated lives of women. The taboo surrounding menstruation makes it even more difficult for women to learn from each other's experiences.


Therefore, I wanted to start an open conversation to create a space where we can acquire an accurate understanding of menstruation. I hope that this will empower us to make informed decisions about our bodies and reproductive health. Period Rediscovered is a 6-month online discussion series about menstruation being launched in March. Moreover, through the series, we will also introduce the history, culture, and feminist struggle related to menstruation. Together we can understand the gender dynamics in promoting women’s health and destigmatizing menstruation. Let’s explore what it is that we need to make our lives more comfortable!




#BeWomenpowered

#SheInspires


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On Monday 16th November WomEnpowered International held a pilot event for a mentorship program with the Women’s Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.


The session began with personal introductions and general questions to enable all participants to get to know each other. It was a very engaging hour and a half as we shared and listened to the mentors’ professional experiences in different industries and the current projects, aspirations and challenges of our WE Int. mentees. From psychology professionals, to former consultants and directors, we were very honoured to have the insight, guidance and encouragement of some very inspiring women from the ACCJ Women’s Committee.


One of the highlights was also hearing the personal stories and challenges faced by our mentors as they were starting their careers and forging their professional direction. We very much appreciated their candid reflections and valuable mentorship. At the end of the event we discussed what we would like to see in the next ACCJ mentorship meeting. The next meeting will be held at 7pm on January 21st 2021. We highly recommend any WE Int. member interested in connecting with a mentor to sign up! Please register here if you are interested: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdI68ZpkbiF4jztbkqaW-zdb8y0-FMnJvjbCqZlIV5T4IhMpw/viewform?usp=sf_link


“Meeting and exchanging with WeInt women was truly inspiring, and I know I can learn a lot from both mentors and mentees. Despite not being in Japan at the moment I am very pleased to be a part of this community. I look forward to our next sessions!”

- Ava Drai.


“Joining the workshop, I got to listen to stories and learn things I have not anticipated before joining. Being able to join a program where all participants are unique and in different stages of their life and career, it allowed me to not only get my own questions answered but also think beyond. I am excited to continue building this mentorship through the workshops.”

- JaeKyoung Jade Hwang.



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In Vol. 11 of Coffee Conversations this morning (9th Jan 2021), we shared our experiences with menstruation. We answered questions such as: Do you remember your first period? How has it changed over the years? What is an embarrassing experience you had? What products do you use (pads, tampons, cloth pads, menstrual cups, pills)? Thank you, everyone, for being so open, honest, and respectful. To conclude the session, we shared pieces of advice that we would give to our younger selves:

  • Nutrition can significantly impact your cycle! So make informed choices. Dieting hides a lot of health risks.

  • Educate yourself! Ask questions, learn from reliable sources, and understand your body, even if you are not provided with this information in school.

  • Share your experiences with your friends and hear from them! The diversity of experiences will help you support each other.

  • There is no need to suffer! If you find it uncomfortable to use pads, or impossible to wear tampons, or you feel too much pain during your period - seek comfort. There are probably helpful alternatives out there.

Do you agree with these conclusions? What advice would you give? Feel free to message us and join the conversation!


Coffee Conversations are monthly sessions aimed at simply getting to know each other, creating friendships while sharing experiences about gender/women's issues or anything else. The sessions create an inclusive and respectful space - everyone is welcome!




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