Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

5 - Partners in Power: Explorations in Women and Politics in Japan

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

The sharing of political power and space has long been an important constituent of women’s empowerment. The factors that may be conducive towards the inclusion of women in decision-making bodies or in positions of political responsibility are indeed complex as evident from the issues raised in the course of the long pending women’s reservation bill in India. Indeed the “politics of diversity” and identity in the Indian case mirrors a contextualized reality that is different from the Japanese context. The two “political fields” are different yet in both cases the initiative and impulses to attain “half the sky” are evident.


Indeed, despite a perception to the contrary, Japanese women have been participants in a long history of social activism. Their direct participation in politics and state affairs, although not uncommon in ancient Japan, displays a downward trajectory for many centuries (Uno’s paper), followed by an upward trend in recent times. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other grassroots organizations have provided training, information and assisted with fund-raising to equip women to take up leadership positions in politics, especially at local government levels. Resistance and challenges come in various forms. Most political parties, for example, still continue to provide only limited leadership opportunities for women. With Japanese women in politics as a case study, the paper will delineate those historical processes that have provided impetus as well as deterrents to women’s efforts in bridging the gap between “formal and substantial equality.”

Ranjana Sheel

Banaras Hindu University, India

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