Back in 2017, I was lucky to be profiled by Dr Kristin Ferguson as part of her #CelebratingWomen project. If you’re not familiar with the project, #CelebratingWomen set out to bring more positivity and diversity to the internet, using Twitter to profile, and therefore celebrate, at least two women from all walks of life across the world every single day for 365 days.
I was intrigued and captivated by how Dr Ferguson told the stories of women from all different backgrounds and provided a platform to celebrate their individuality. The idea stuck with me, and as an Australian expat living in Japan, I realised that there was a real opportunity to continue and build on her work.
Last April, I started #CelebratingWomeninJapan, my own project aimed at unearthing and telling the stories of Japanese women.
By profiling different women on Twitter, I wanted to break down stereotypes, amplify voices, and show people around the globe how diverse Japanese women are. Over the past year, we’ve profiled stay-at-home mothers, scientists, academics, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, and athletes. Some of these women are already well-known, but others have never had their stories told to the wider public.
The women of Japan have so much to offer the global community. I’m a firm believer that every woman is a role model, whether they realise it or not. In fact, there is no qualifying criteria to be profiled on @womenofjapan. Every woman who wants to be involved will be included.
When I interview a woman for the project, I always ask the same three questions. I find that, regardless of socioeconomic status, education, or age, similar trends begin to appear. When it gets down to it, there are usually more similarities than differences between us all.
One of my favourite profiles is also the first one we ever published on @womenofjapan.
Yaeko Kaneta was my host mother when I first came to Japan in 1982 as a 17-year-old. It was an honour to profile her and learn more about her life, family, and story.
At times, it has been challenging to find enough women to profile. There is an underlying belief from many women that their life or work isn’t interesting enough to warrant telling their story. By shining a spotlight on different Japanese women in all their wonderful individuality, we’re hoping to help change this attitude.
We now have more than 3,000 followers and community reception has been incredibly positive. There will always be some people out there who don’t understand what we’re doing and why it’s important, but on the flipside, we have hundreds of women and men replying and letting us know what types of stories they’d love to hear.
While the #womenofjapan project is set to wrap up on 31 March, it’s been a journey that I’m incredibly proud of and grateful for. Sharing the stories of Japan’s women with a global audience has been a privilege.
Take a look through the profiles on Twitter @womenofjapan or find them archived on a standalone website from late April 2019.
This #InternationalWomensDay, and beyond, join us in #CelebratingWomen no matter where you live or work so we can acknowledge and appreciate all the brilliant things women achieve around the world.