Remarks by Michelle Bachelet at Shibuya Junior and Senior High School Tokyo, Japan


Remarks by UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet at Shibuya Junior and Senior High School. Tokyo, Japan, 12 November 2012.

[Check against delivery]

I am so happy to be here to speak with all of you in Shibuya. I would like to thank Principal Mr. Tetsuo Tamura for this opportunity.

Tokyo is an amazing city, full of life and colors and young people just like you. There is so much energy just standing on the street. It's a reminder: this is the future of Japan.

There are signs of globalization everywhere here. In this environment, each of you is very aware of your surroundings and of the world you live in. As students of this school, you are encouraged to be curious, ask questions, and make new connections.

The United Nations headquarters might be on the other side of the world, but the questions we face are the same - the ones you can't read about in a textbook or learn about in class.

I am the Executive Director of a new organization, UN Women. I just spoke recently to high school students in New York City about the progress we've made for women's rights and the challenges that lie ahead. It was shortly after the news of the crime against a Pakistani schoolgirl named Malala.

The story of Malala's courageous fight for her right to education resonated with people, especially young people, around the world because of how such a simple act could put a young girl's life in danger. Hers is one of many stories of women who must brave discrimination and violence to make gender equality a reality in their lives.

UN Women works in countries around the world, and I've met so many women, from all walks of life. I know I am addressing women and men in this room who will lead the way in Japan towards a more equal, democratic and prosperous society for all. You will build on a strong foundation.

Japan has shown great leadership at the United Nations, particularly with regards to gender equality and women's empowerment. It shared the experiences of its recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake for the benefit of other Member States, emphasizing the vital role of women in disaster risk reduction.

I will have the opportunity to speak later today with members of the business community who are taking the initiative for a new Japanese business culture: one with more women, and more women in top-level, executive positions.

This evening I will join members of Japanese NGOs, women's rights activists, and leaders for the lighting of Tokyo Tower. Have a look tonight: the tower will be lit up purple, to remind everyone about the Weeks to Eliminate Violence against Women.

UN Women stands beside the women and men that are working for gender equality and women's rights in Japan. Around the world, we join forces with government leaders, NGOs, community leaders and private individuals to tackle the many challenges women face and make sure that women's rights are protected.

But today is an opportunity for me to say that UN Women stands beside you. In the past decades, we have seen radical changes for women in every aspect of life: from education, to the work force, to politics, to the home.

But we must talk about today. We must look around ourselves and see the injustices, the inequalities, and the threats to peace in our world- halfway around the world, or on the streets of Tokyo. I count on you to do all you can to advance equality between women and men. Your vision for the future is the one that matters most.

I can speak from experience: “Seek and think for oneself Jicho-Jiko- is a daunting task. But each and every one of you is up to this task.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today, and to see first-hand what the future of equality, peace and justice looks like.