Sexism is defined as the belief that members of one sex are less capable, intelligent, able or skillful than the members of the other sex. Some examples of sexism could be, for example, stating that women are less qualified to occupy a certain job position than any other male candidate. Sexism does not take into account the real capacity of the individual; instead, sexism is biased, prejudiced and highly unrealistic.
Devaluing someone’s opinion on a topic whilst alluding to their gender condition, limiting the scope of choices of a person based on their gender, imposing sexualized dress codes and differentiated gender roles; stating that ‘men do not cry’, that women should exploit their femineity… all of these are manifestations of sexism and forms of gender discrimination. Combating these gender stereotypes and sexist behaviors is our responsibility as a society.
Yahoo! Japan published on the 23rd of October of 2020 the following article titled, which could be translated in English as ‘Just based on our gender, we are this different. 16 images that show the differences between men and women’
This article, published on one of the most popular news platforms in Japan, Yahoo! Japan, defends that ‘the way that we think is different depending on whether we are a woman or a man’.
Followed by this quite serious sexist statement, a series of internet memes and images portraying prejudices and gender stereotypes is presented.
‘Men are not good at cleaning up’, ‘they do not have as many connections on social media’, ‘women are scared of the tiniest insect whilst men are not afraid of big and strong elephants’ are some of the prejudices reinforced and spread on this popular news platform.
The article written by [Media to laugh] does not shield itself effectively under any kind of humoristic tone, as it does not warn the reader about any intended humoristic purpose, nor does it introduce the reader to any kind of fictional world. Instead, sexist statements are thrown in the form of generalizations and left behind for the most susceptible public to absorb.
The fact that a far-reaching news platform such as Yahoo! Japan publishes an article of this kind, that simply spreads gender discrimination and sexist stereotypes, as if they were general knowledge or had any true validity, suggests that the mission of this news platform this time has been one of rather disinforming and ‘uneducating’ the general public.
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What is the SDGs?
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the 2030 Agenda) is a set of international development goals from 2016 to 2030, which was adopted by the UN Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015 building on the success of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The 2030 Agenda listed “Sustainable Development Goals” consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets in order to eradicate poverty and realize a sustainable world. The SDGs are universal goals applicable, not only to developing countries but also developed countries, and pledge “Leave no one behind.” through the implementation process.
References: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: What is the SDGs?
Paula Fernández, our Deputy Editor-in-Chief, wrote an article on LGBTQ rights in Japan. Her research includes gender and sexual minorities for her MSc and PhD. The OxForest Web Magazine does not only feature the environment and sustainable development, but also the issues that shape people’s lives around the world. Gender equality and LBGTQ rights are the theme of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5.
The LGBTQ community serves not only as a support group and a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer individuals, but it also acts as a source of information for those who want to explore and know more about gender identity, sexuality and sexual health education.
Let’s learn the difference between sexuality and gender identity
‘Male’, ‘female’ and ‘transgender’ are gender identities, as these three terms refer to the body perception of the individual. ‘I see myself as female’ ‘I am in the wrong body’ ‘I was born female but I feel male or I feel neutral’ are thoughts related to the gender identity of the individual.
In the case of sexuality, ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ are types of sexualities, as they indicate the sexual attraction of the person towards others, the same as ‘bisexual’ (a bisexual person is someone who can feel sexually and/or romantically attracted to both men and women).
Quiz time: Do you think that a person can be considered gay and transexual at the same time? Let’s see. For example, if a person was born male and feels that he is ‘trapped in the wrong body’, this person is said to suffer from gender dysphoria, as this person’s biological gender does not match with his gender identity. This individual has a male body but feels female. These individuals frequently develop feelings of rejection towards their own body. They can go to therapy and through chirurgical operations and have their gender reassigned. In addition to this, this same person can feel sexuality attracted to women, men or both. In summary, gender identity and sexuality do not necessarily have to match. A person can be bisexual and transgender at the same time, gay and transgender, etc.
Within the scenario of LGBTQ rights in Japan, marriage is currently a legal right given just to heterosexual couples. In other words, only the union between a woman and a man is legally recognized in Japan. Since the year 2015, however, several Japanese municipalities and prefectures have been introducing partnership certificates for same-sex couples.
The first ward that introduced the same-sex partnership certificate was Shibuya ward, in Tokyo, in the year 2015. At a prefectural level, Ibaraki-ken became the first Japanese prefecture that started to issue same-sex partnership certificates, in 2019. In addition to this, Chiba City became the first city issuing this partnership certificate, also in 2019.
To be eligible for this partnership document at Chiba City, for example, this city requires both partners to be at least 20 years old and also to reside in Chiba. Currently a total of 57 municipalities and 2 prefectures in Japan offer partnership certificates for same-sex couples. (A list of these places will be included at the end of this article)
The issuing of these partnership certificates has gained popularity in the last year, to the extent that in the first five months of 2019, the number of prefectures issuing these same-sex marriage certificates doubled.
These partnership certificates, however, are not legally binding. That is to say, they are not yet legally recognized at a national level or outside of the municipality or ward where they are issued. It is due to the limitations of these certificates that the Japanese NGO Famiee Project has initiated their own certification program for LGBTQ couples, in order for same-sex couples to be recognized outside of the municipalities.
Furthermore, another weak aspect of these partnership certificates is that they are not fully equivalent with heterosexual marriage in Japan, as they present more limitations in terms of civil rights, such as rights of inheritance, taxes and visitation rights in the case of hospital emergencies. These limitations, however, vary depending on the municipality where issued. For example, Shibuya ward offers equal rights for same-sex spouses at hospitals and also for apartment renting. These benefits, however, are not necessarily the same as those offered by Chiba, Fukuoka or Osaka prefecture.
For the time being, even though Japanese municipalities are starting to offer some limited benefits for same-sex couples residing in Japan, the reality is that many civil rights are still not being addressed, such as same-sex adoptions. In 2017, Osaka prefecture recognised a same-sex couple as foster parents in Japan, becoming this the first case. However, same-sex adoptions are not legally addressed or recognized at a national level yet.
Due to this lack of protections, several companies, such as Mizuho Financial Group, are independently promoting initiatives to provide equal benefits to their employees and partners, regardless of whether they are in a same-sex relationship or a heterosexual relationship. At the end of 2020, Japan Airlines also announced that this company will start implementing pro LGBTQ initiatives such as the use of gender-neutral greetings in their flights to be more inclusive towards their passengers.
Overall, it could be said that, even though LGBTQ rights are gradually starting to be recognized through the partnership certificates initiated by municipalities in the last decade, and several important Japanese companies are also independently advocating for LGBTQ rights, these individuals are still not being fully protected in legal terms at a national level, as they are not yet being addressed in legislative terms.
Same-sex couples have not been integrated yet into the futsuu (normal) system. Instead, alternative paths are being created for them. Real equality will just arrive when all couples are processed through the same system and are given the same rights, regardless of their or their partner’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
To conclude, Japan does seem to be, step by step, moving forward in the direction of tolerance, especially in the last decade. The year 2019 has indeed been a year of very interesting LGBTQ advancements, not only with the same-sex partnership certification system, but also through the establishment of some interesting organizations such as Marriage For All Japan, whose groups of lawyers are aiming to achieve the mission to attain the very well deserved equality for same-sex couples in Japan.
The year 2020 seems to keep on moving on this same track, as on the next 11th of October, Pride House Tokyo will open Japan’s first permanent LGBTQ center in Shinjuku-Nichōme.
This center will also contribute to support the advancement of LGBTQ rights and freedoms, whilst acting as an ibasho, a place where one can be oneself, in order to guarantee the so much needed protection for these individuals.
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I am Lucious from Malawi, East Africa, a graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Exploits University in Malawi, also a holder of tropical agriculture certificate from the City and Guilds of London Institute. I speak English, Portuguese, Chichewa, Tumbuka and a little of Swahili. I recently joined the OxForest Editing Team as the first African member on the team!
Before my first degree, I worked with the international organization and farms for 14 years in the field of leadership and management positions in both local and international. As an African, I have worked in Malawi for 7 years including Danish NGO’s Child Aid Project as well a tea and coffee farm as a manager. Then I went for project research and development studies in Zimbabwe reaching out development course. There after I was given an opportunity to work in Brazil as a manager at a forestry project for 4 years from 2007 to 2011 with my longtime friend Takeshi Inagawa (OxForest.org Founder). Takeshi and I used to call each other a “Comrade!“, because we were only two foreigners on the project, who hardly spoke Portuguese in the beggining, ha ha.
In the same year end, I went to Mexico where I attained training for business management and a project leadership in the field course. Finally I worked with Jacaranda farm in Malawi as a manager for 4 years.
As regards my interests, I am glad to say that I am not a person who is only engaged in working and studying. I have dozens of activities which I like to do. Generally, I would like you to know that I have always kept my healthy lifestyle. I think that it is much better to struggle with my sicknesses by developing my healthy lifestyle rather than taking drugs infinitely. All these clearly define my high interest in keeping my healthy lifestyle that is reflected in my big love for sports. For instance, I am a real football fan which means that I enjoy playing and watching it. Thus I always try to find some time to go out and play such a wonderful game with my friends.