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. Although in the current difficult situation we are not able to meet face-to-face, we hope this kind of message can help each other stay positive. In this article, we interviewed our members Ayumi and Stephanie about how their housework burden changed from pre-COVID19 and during COVID-19.

Ayumi is a candidate for a Master's degree in Public Management at the University of Tokyo. She had 8-year-professional experience in International Cooperation (ODA), especially in African countries. Last year, she just gave birth to a cute Japanese-African baby boy.

1. How are you spending time at home during COVID-19?

I spend most of the time to take my classes online at home with my 9-month-old baby. After the classes, I walk outside with my baby, stopping by at some grocery stores. Especially on the weekend, I enjoy home theater time, LINE or Skype call with friends and families around the world, and cooking some African dishes.

2. What were your housework patterns like from before COVID-19? How have they changed?

Before, I should finish all the housework before going to university, so the morning time was like an exhausting hard battle of the day for me. Also, it was tough to spend almost 2 hours commuting to and from university with my baby.

However, since the classes are currently held online, the stressful fight in the morning against the time is over. Benefiting from the saved 2 hours, I can accomplish all housework before starting my online classes. It is true that studying at home with my son is a big challenge, but my husband working at home for the moment takes a great role of caring kid when I cannot do so. Then, I well keep balance being student and mom despite the difficult circumstances.

3. How is the situation in your local neighborhood or among your friends?

Many of my friends have difficulties in managing housework and caring children at home by himself/herself. You know, when we see someone at home, we easily expect him/her to help us by doing small housework or caring kids. However, in some cases, the partner is just physically at home for working, not for helping his/her spouse. This situation strongly makes us feel stressed. Even if the one or both of a couple feel stressed, there is no outside place for refreshing. As far as I know, it is mostly women who face this kind of problem.

4. Do you have any tips to share for staying positive during COVID-19?

- I believe that there is no need to be perfect, as mom, wife, or student!

- I admit myself as I am. Even if I was not able to finish what to do or I did something undesirable, I try not to blame myself. Instead, I take even 5 minutes coffee break for making me feel relaxed and relieved.

- I take courage to ask anyone for help when it is necessary. Patient is “not” a virtue, I definitely can “not” do everything! Not only my tasks but also my feelings I share with my family and dear friends. It makes me feel less burdened and released from anything.

Stephanie is currently studying in the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo. She is a mother with two lovely daughters.

1. How are you spending time at home during COVID-19?

My time is split between my final semester of GRASPP courses, working, and hanging out with my family -- husband and two girls.

2. What were your housework patterns like from before COVID-19? How have they changed?

The main change after the pandemic hit were the school closures. The kids are young so their education is not so impacted but they do need constant hands-on supervision in their assignments. My husband and I have been able to work from home, though, so we are around to help -- we basically just take turns doing what we can. We don't have specifically defined tasks but just kind of share and get it done together (esp cooking/clean-up and child care). It makes for a busier day, but we're doing what we can and finding many enjoyable small moments.

3. How is the situation in your local neighborhood or among your friends?

I think we've all felt the strain of suddenly adding homeschool to the day. It seems like division of labor varies by the couple, so it's difficult to say.

4. Do you have any tips to share for staying positive during COVID-19?

I think what helps me most is getting outside (in a safe, socially distant way!), taking a break from COVID-19 related news, and remembering that this is all temporary. We're all in this together, and we'll get out of it together!

Updated: Jul 14

To show our solidarity to Black Lives Matter and to better educate ourselves and others about issues of racial and intersectional justice, we would like to share more information about the concept of intersectionality and especially how it relates to the current situation and movement for racial justice in the United States and beyond.

Throughout this article, as well as at the end, we offer an extensive list of resources and further reading so that we may all do our part to help dismantle systems of oppression and injustice.

The Importance and Urgency of Intersectionality

Intersectionality as a theoretical concept is defined as: “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”

The word intersectionality itself was first coined by American Black feminist scholar and civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. She recognized the important problem that: 

“Feminist efforts to politicize experiences of women and antiracist efforts to politicize experiences of people of color have frequently proceeded as though the issues and experiences they each detail occur in mutually exclusive terrains. Although racism and sexism readily intersect in the lives of real people, they seldom do in feminist and antiracist practices.”

She also found that a single-axis orientation toward discrimination in our legal systems, meaning discrimination was categorized by race or sex but not both, ignored issues of intersectionality and also ended up perpetuating certain patterns of discrimination, especially that of Black women, that the law had intended to rectify.

As a consequence, “this adoption of a single-issue framework for discrimination not only marginalizes Black women within the very movements that claim them as part of their constituency but it also makes the illusive goal of ending racism and patriarchy even more difficult to attain.”

As the idea of intersectionality has become more mainstream, the result is that its original meaning has sometimes been re-appropriated in various ways by various groups–some with the intent to discredit the idea entirely, which is viewed as a tactic to maintain privilege–especially racial privilege. Go here to understand more about this struggle.

Yet, as originally intended by Crenshaw, the idea has both theoretical and practical importance for social movements, structural change, and justice. Indeed, as she emphasized, without incorporating ideas of intersectionality, true equality and true justice for all will remain elusive. 

To give a more concrete example of how intersectionality has practical and critical relevance for matters of justice and equality, we can look to the current pressing issue of police brutality against Blacks in America. Crenshaw gave a TED Talk in 2016 about the “Urgency of Intersectionality” in order to bring to light the relatively unknown names and lives of Black women who have also been killed at the hands of police.

We invite you to watch her compelling and enlightening talk.

Furthermore, if you would like to read more about her academic research into the importance of intersectionality, you can find two of her most prominent papers here:

Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics

Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color

Why Talk About Intersectionality Now?

For those who may live outside of the US, or who may believe that issues of intersectionality are not relevant to the current crisis, we would like to provide some background information and explain why we are speaking out about this issue.

You can also learn more about this from Crenshaw herself by going here.

The United States has a brutal and bloody history in its treatment of Black people, beginning with slavery, continuing through the violence and lynchings during the Jim Crow era after emancipation, and persisting in police brutality during the civil rights movement and after.

The initial spotlight in the current era on police brutality against Black people in the US began in 2013 with the death of young Treyvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, and the protests that followed also launched the hashtag and social movement #BlackLivesMatter.

Since that time (but also well before), numerous occurrences of police brutality and the murder of Black people have been covered by the media, and in the United States a Black person is almost three times more likely to be killed by the police than a white person. Very rarely are the police ever convicted and brought to justice for these crimes. With the rapid spread of social media, these injustices were able to find a wider audience and thus they have understandably generated substantial protest and backlash. 

The names of the dead are, unfortunately, a long list, and they have been stored in the public consciousness: Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, and the list goes on. 

Also throughout this time, many Black women were killed by police too: Rekia Boyd, Shantel Davis, Shelley Frey, Kayla Moore, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, and also the list goes on. Yet, most of us do not know their names.

Crenshaw talked about this in 2016, and started her campaign to #SayHerName, yet we still generally see the same pattern today

We encourage you to learn more about the SayHerName campaign.

This year, three deaths of Black people at the hands of police (or ex-police) have caught the media's attention: In February, it was Ahmaud Arbery. In March, it was Breonna Taylor. And just last week, it was George Floyd. All died as a result of police brutality against Black peoplea legacy of the institutionalized racism that has colored the entire history of the United States.

If you would like to do further reading about the legacy of racism in US history, you can begin with this excellent article by Ta-Nehisi Coates as well as refer to the resources at the end of this article.

Recently, you may have seen the major protests that have erupted in US cities, but a cursory overview of the coverage and shares on mainstream and social media show the continued emphasis on the deaths of Black men at the hands of police, while the deaths of Black women are less mentioned. Although some of these stories have tended to infiltrate the public consciousness more easily because they happened to be filmed and subsequently shared on social media, this is not always the case, as not all the deaths of Black men were caught on film and the deaths of Black women have received less attention even when they were filmed.

Breonna Taylor was a 26 year-old EMT. She was shot eight times while sleeping in her home after police conducted a “no knock” warrant at her address and shot inside indiscriminately. Protests did occur in her native Louisville, Kentucky, though the comparative media coverage has been less.

While the FBI is investigating her death, so far no arrests have been made. Her death did not initially make headlines, but began after prominent Black activist Shaun King shared her story on social media.

You can learn more about her story and take action here.

This trend of skewed media focus also occurs in instances of the deaths of queer and transgender Black people.

Recently, a few major public figures have begun to share these stories, as June 1st marked the beginning of Pride month for LGBTQ+. It is important to also shine a light on the forgotten names of these Black trans women: Chanel Scurlock, Brianna "BB" Hill, Muhlaysia Booker, Alice Carter, and the list goes on.

You can learn more at the Audre Lorde Project, and you can discover more about their names and stories here.

However, we must be clear: race-based violence against Black people and all people of color is abhorrent, unjust, and must be confronted and fought in all its forms.

Moreover, we acknowledge that Black women who are also subject to police brutality are killed primarily because of their race. It is an issue of racial injustice against which we must use our privilege, power, and voices to help combat. 

We must work to dismantle systems of oppression to which we all, consciously and unconsciously, uphold and benefit from to achieve true equality for all. We must listen to and amplify the voices of the oppressed, and donate our time, our abilities, and our financial resources when we can. 

As an organization within the feminist movement, we also acknowledge that the relative lack of media and public attention the deaths of Black women and trans women receive is an issue of the intersectionality between race and gender. Hence, we believe it is a feminist issue, and so it also demands our advocacy and action as individuals who want to stand in solidarity with all women and engage in intersectional feminist praxis. 

Legacy of Intersectionality and Feminism in the US

In the United States especially, but also globally and particularly within developed countries, there is a legacy of the feminist movement demonstrating a failure of inclusion and advocacy for issues related to intersectionality and a lack of amplifying the voices and experiences of Black women and women of color so that these experiences are equally integrated into the feminist movement and conceptions of gender justice and equality.

This goes as far back as the American suffragist movement, where the battle for women's right to vote was only concerned with the rights of white women. At the famous Seneca Falls Convention in New York, no Black women were invited. This was not accidental, but a shameful and purposeful exclusion by white women who were concerned that the inclusion of black women would take the focus away from suffrage and towards emancipationthereby actively privileging their race in matters of gender and failing to consider how both of these concepts intertwined and subsequently denying justice to their fellow women.

We encourage you to learn more about this history, as we must understand past failures in order to rectify them in the future.

This is especially because failures within feminism continue until today, with the #MeToo movement as one example. While the hashtag became popularized by a white actress, the actual term was first used a decade earlier by a Black woman, Tarana Burke. Although it spread around the globe, there were legitimate criticisms that the movement as a whole overlooked the contributions of Burke and that in the US it was overly concerned with the injustices faced by white women, while failing to adequately incorporate intersectionality and amplify the experiences of black women, women of color, and other minorities. 

You can start with these resources to understand the history of MeToo and learn how Black women have historically been addressing issues of sexual harassment for a long time.

And now, in the current moment, while the coverage of the murder of George Floyd has been shared widely, and indeed this is important as his death is part of the long legacy of structural racism and demands justice, there remain numerous black women who were also killed by the police and who suffer from the double burden of structural racism and patriarchy–which further devalues their lives and prevents the same level of outrage and protests over their deaths as black men in the general public discourse about racism and policy brutality.

Of course, this is not an either or situation. It is not and should not be the intention of intersectional feminism to compete with or overshadow the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which was in fact founded by three Black women who have publicly committed the movement to embracing intersectionality–as BLM includes queer and transgender black people among its leaders.  Nor does intersectional feminism deny Black men the reality of their struggle and the legitimate righteous anger and demands for structural change that result from the injustices that Black people suffer from.

We encourage you to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement.

As intersectional feminists, we should aim to shine a light on the fact that media coverage and political discourse demonstrates how the consciousness and actions of our societies have yet to catch up to progressive ideals that would treat the unjust deaths of Black women, Black men, and trans women and men with the same level of attention and rage. This also extends further, as we must call out how the media and politics privileges coverage and narratives of white people over Black people and others of color. 

So, we believe feminists, especially white feminists, must do our part to express our support for the efforts of Black Lives Matter by also raising up the voices and struggles of Black women. We need to be better allies, using our voice and privilege to act in solidarity with other movements that also seek to overturn the oppressive and unjust power structures of our societies.

To do so, we must understand the role played by race, gender, class, sexuality, and their intersection. For Crenshaw, when talking about intersectionality,

the ultimate "goal of this activity should be to facilitate the inclusion of marginalized groups for whom it can be said: When they enter, we all enter.’"

Global Justice & Intersectionality

Of course, we acknowledge that racism and police brutality are also global issues. As headlines from the United States tend to ricochet around the world, other countries have also started staging protests in recent days, demonstrating just how wide-spread the dialogue and the movement for social and racial justice truly is. The UK, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Kenya, Australia, France, New Zealand and are just a few of the countries where people have begun to protest and speak out about this global problem.

The extent of these protests shows how notions of human rights and social justice are fundamental to human and societal well-being.

Even here in Japan, a protest was held in Shibuya, Tokyo recently against police brutality of foreigners after a Kurdish man was abused during an arrest by Japanese police. Moreover, news sources highlight illegal immigrants who are allegedly  “kept hostage” and mistreated by the Japanese Immigration Bureau. According to previous reports, they live in a less than 15 square-meter cell with five people and face day-to-day violence by the guards. Some of the rooms are almost entirely transparent, and even women have to change, use the bathroom, and sleep while both male and female guards watch from outside the cell. There have been multiple cases where an immigrant woman was assaulted by male guards, including the case of a Nepali woman who was dragged out of her cell and beaten by seven male guards.

Yet, police brutality and injustice does not just occur with immigrants, and racism remains a lingering entrenched problem in relatively homogenous Japan. The Zainichi population in Japan, meaning individuals who are ethnically Korean but who are Japanese permanent residents (as Zainichi had their citizenship stripped after World War II), face systemic racism and oppression here in Japan also. Zainichi Korean women in particular, are facing the double discrimination based on their ethnicity and gender. Many of them have either experienced or witnessed hate speech against Zainichi Koreans, largely including derogative, sexist slurs that dehumanize Zainichi/Korean women. Additionally, the Japanese public, inspired by uyoku (right-wing groups), continue to negate the historical facts of ianfu (comfort women) and blame Zainichi Koreans for the Korean government and civil-rights groups “bringing it up.”  Other ethnic minorities in Japan, such as the Ainu in Hokkaido and Ryukyu in Okinawa have also struggled with systemic racism and oppressive structures.

Therefore, on a global level, intersectionality calls upon us to understand how these issues of race-based violence and racism intersect with other systems of oppression based on factors such as class, gender, sexuality, and so on in our own societies. In doing so, we can better ourselves and advocate for policies that will advance substantial and meaningful change in our global but common pursuit of justice.

Being Better Allies–Education and Resources (primarily US-based)

To help us begin the journey, we offer the following resources as a starting point for educating ourselves and beginning to advance intersectional justice. While many of these resources are US-based, we offer and encourage others to share their own local and national resources within your respective communities.

As Crenshaw highlighted, police brutality is an issue that affects Black women too. Learn more about this here.

So, as intersectional feminists, we must dedicate efforts to fighting against it and advocate for policies that would lead to better, safer, and fairer policing of communities:

Also, in the long-term, dedication and support for organizations that are working for intersectional justice and supporting Black women is key (if you are able to give financially):

If possible, we also encourage you to help support Black-owed small businesses:

We must also work and continually strive to be better intersectional feminist allies and further our own intersectional education:

For US citizens, we must making sure to turn out to vote for politicians who will create policies that advance racial and gender justice:

There are also organizations and resources that aim to address racial justice and equality in general and help to educate ourselves on the experiences of Black people and other people of color:

  • This Medium article has links to numerous resources

Updated: Oct 17

WE Int.では #SheInspires と題して、団体メンバーの紹介をしています。女性同士支え合い、たたえ合うこと。これもフェミニスト団体であるWE Int.の大事な役目と考えているからです。今回紹介するのは、中国出身のヒ・キテイさん。なぜフェミニズムに興味を持ったのか、日本におけるジェンダー課題についてどう考えているか、ぜひお読みください!



私の名前はYiting Fei(ヒ キテイ)です。中国浙江省出身です。中学校から日本に興味を持私の家族は、中国の他の家族と同じく、子育てを大事にし、教育を重視してきました。特に、私の両親は今までずっと私の志望を尊重し、大学の専攻や日本への進学、就職を支持してくれています。私は一人っ子で、高校も理系だったので、比較的男女平等の環境で育てきたとは言えます。



2.WE Int.についてどこで知りましたか?なぜ参加に参加したのですか?

男女の不平等を感じるものの、自分から何かをして現状を変えようとは考えていませんでした。WE Int.との出会いは、私を現状に甘んじる意識から脱却させてくれました。きっかけは、友達の誘いで、WE Int.初のオリエンテーションに参加したことです。そこで出会ったファウンダーの皆はジェンダー平等に対して情熱を持ち、自らプロジェクトを回す能力と行動力があり、全ての人の話を尊重する姿勢を示し、すごく魅力的に感じました。皆から刺激を受け、現状を受け止めるのではなく、このメンバーたちと一緒にやりたいと考えました。






                     5.WE Int.を通し何を成し遂げたいですか?

WE Int.を通じ成し遂げたいのは、まず女性のためにネットワークを作ることです。学生にせよ、社会人にせよ、女性としてジェンダー不平等に直面する場合は多いと思います。WE Int.を通して様々な分野の女性と繋がり、自分の問題を気軽に皆とシェアする機会を作りたいです。また、イベントを通し、女性だけではなく、男性のジェンダ


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