What is Japanese Feminism?
Historical and Cultural Factors:
The New Women
The Modern Women
Post-War "Uman Riba"
The Feministo and Women Studies
Works Cited Cont'd
"I still think that it was right that we started the movement
as an expression of inward desire. It was a spiritual women's
movement; it was an explosion of women's ego which had been
so suppressed that they could not even breathe...women were
not prepared for a social and political movement ... it was said,
in those days, that we should work first for women's suffrage,
but I thought we should reform women's consciousness first.
And I still think I was right."
--- Hiratsuka Raicho comments taken from "Genshi, josei wa taiyou de atta." (原子 女性は太陽であった) 4 vols. (1971-1972) 1: 328 - 332
For decades there has been an okyou chanted by Japan scholars about the "changing" Japanese woman, and the new roles for women in Japanese society. At the same time, Japanese feminists have been lamenting what they see as a great "gap" between the theory and reality of equality for Japanese women -- meaning that although women in Japan have gained equal legal status, they still lag behind men in positions of leadership in almost every area of society. For example, although women make up a major portion of the work place, only 9.2 percent occupy managerial positions. (Office for Gender Equality, Fifth Report on the Implementation of the New National Plan of Action Toward the Year 2000) Despite the fact women compose 51 percent of the general population, only five percent are represented in the Diet (OGE, Fifth Report). The list goes on and on. Why haven't Japanese women been able to take positions in society that are now legally available to them? Why are they still seen as a walking a "half-step" behind men? The answers to these questions lie mainly in the development of feminist consciousness in Japan, the somewhat unique historical and contextual variables that have hindered the development of this consciousness, and the choices feminist leaders have made that have determined the direction of the feminist movement in Japan throughout the last century.
As strange as it may seem, when looking at the century-long journey of Japanese feminism, there is, at its simplest, an overall pattern of full circle. However, this isn't necessarily a negative analysis. There is rarely one definitive way to the achievement of any goal. That most Japanese feminists chose to work from an "outside-in" approach, which goes along more readily with the basic tenets of Japanese culture and such concepts as "amai" (dependency), "和" (harmony) and "gamen"(patience), is of no surprise. Rather than working on changing and empowering the "individual mind," if you will, Japanese feminists focused on restructuring societal and legal patterns. Both are equally important. However the situation today in Japan for women shows that the "outside-in" approach hasn't done enough to create a "liberated" mind set among women in Japan, and that perhaps the very early feminists would have been better off, as Raicho's states in the quote above, continuing their initial focus on raising the consciousness or empowering the individual woman. Consciousness-raising has often been pointed out as an essential component to the feminist movement and a necessary part of feminist action (Sandra Bartley 1975; MarciaWestcott 1979; Joan Acker, Kate Barry, Joke Esseveld 1996).
What happened instead, is that this important focus on widening perceptions and teaching women how to unabashedly define themselves became lost over the years. The new leaders of the Japanese women's movement chose to fight for "legal" changes to their situation: the right to hold political meetings, the right to vote, improved labor conditions, equal opportunity laws. It now seems quite obvious that, although vital, these structural alterations to society are not effective without raising individual consciousness. And that the result of such disequilibrium between "outer" and "inner" changes is perhaps one of the main reasons for the great gap today between theory and the reality of equality for Japanese women.
By analyzing literature that has been produced on Japanese feminism and by Japanese feminists in the last century, this paper attempts to provide an overarching framework through which to view the flow of Japanese feminist consciousness from the Meiji period to its current status. Viewing this brief history of feminism will perhaps enable us to come to a better understanding of the factors that keep Japanese women from reaching gender equality. As I mentioned earlier, the main premise of the paper is that the focus of the feminist movement in Japan has traveled full circle, from and to an emphasis on expanding and raising women's consciousness. Within this premise are two important factors: The first being that feminist consciousness has been inhibited by a series of somewhat unique historical and contextual variables from "inside" and "outside" of the Japanese women's movement. The second concept is that, although Japanese feminist consciousness has been stunted, there is indication today that the Japanese women's movement has finally come of age; feminist leaders in Japan have fully targeted the main barriers to equality, developed and evolved theories as to why these barriers exist and are currently implementing special programs, such as the women study-related courses on university campuses, and the Gender Equality by 2000 program, to release the blocked flow of feminist consciousness. I'm sure there are also other, informal and formal programs going on that are beyond an outsider's eyesight, and beyond the limited scope of this brief overall analysis.
The paper is divided into seven main sections. First, there are two sections in which I attempt to delineate the particular meaning of "Japanese feminism." Following is a brief discussion of the historical and cultural factors that have inhibited the flow of Japanese consciousness. In the latter sections, I take a look at the historical progression of Japanese feminist consciousness vis a vis certain women groups that have formed, and actions that have gained media attention throughout the last century. Although a thin thread of feminism is seen decade to decade in the formation of the concepts "new women," "modan gaaru," "uman riba" and "feministo,” there are obviously a lot of factors that point to a certain flagging of feminist consciousness and a lack of focus to the women's movement throughout the century. This lack of clarity and definition, however, has become a thing of the past. As seen in its growing diversity, which I discuss later, the Japanese women's movement has found its feet and will be instrumental in creating the "new" Japanese women for the new millennium.
What is Japanese Feminism?
There are many people in the West who still think that Japanese feminism is an oxymoron -- an understandable but erroneous impression. Similar to Western movements, there are actually many strands of feminisms in Japan, and feminist thought has been developing there for more than a century. Sandra Buckley points out in her 1997 book of Japanese feminism, Broken Silence , that feminism in Japan has not developed along the same channels (academic) as Western feminism, therefore it is difficult for outsiders to recognize the Japanese feminist movement. "Because feminism has not 'evolved' in such familiar Western contexts as women studies centers, panels at academic conferences, and specialized academic feminist journals but has preferred to channel its multiplicity of voices through a mixture of non-mainstream and informal publications, a person looking for 'familiar forms' maybe find it less immediately locatable" (Buckley, 1997).
One of the main concerns of Japanese feminists in the last decade has been finding a cohesive thread to bind together feminist thought which has splintered off into different directions from its inception as a movement. This dissension has created discord among Japanese women -- at times even placing them at odds with one another and enervating the movement. Indeed, this multiplicity of feminisms is not unique to Japan; Western feminist ideology also struggles to find a theoretical framework that can unite varying feminist ideologies. Recently, due to the influence of academics like Jacques Derrida, theories of post-modernism/structuralism and deconstruction theories there is an indication that the feminist movement in the United States is coming to embrace the varying standpoints of women as part of the organic and healthy development of ideas, rather than a hindrance. This is seen in Japanese feminism as well.
Despite a similarity in the outer framework, “Japanese” feminism and "Western" feminism, are built from two different foundations. The hierarchal structure of Japanese society, the ie (household) system, the philosophy of ryosai kenbo (good wife, wise mother), the underlying tenets of Confucianism, the ramifications of WWII have all created somewhat different systemic challenges for Japanese women to overcome, and this has been reflected in the course of the Japanese women's movement and their positioning today. These deep-rooted aspects of culture along with the notorious "glass ceiling" and "boy's club" mentality that has plagued institutions in both the East and West, keep Japanese women relegated to low-paying, low status jobs in the labor force. This keeping of women at the bottom of the pecking order shows that despite great strides Japanese women are still bound by rigid, stereotyped roles that assume child rearing and nursing are exclusively women's duties, while men are workers and supporters of the nation. These images are the main hurtles that Japanese feminism has yet to conqueror.
With the splintering of feminism into varying ideologies in Japan — eco-feminism, Socialist feminism, radical feminism — it is difficult to come up with a concrete definition to capture the particular nuance of "Japanese" feminism. Before I attempt a definition I'd like to once again note that such diversification indicates that feminism has "come of age" in Japan, and that the roots of feminism are now firmly entrenched in society. In other words, the division of feminism has brought more people to the discussion table. The so-called housewife feminism debate, and the controversial emphasis placed on "motherhood" as vital to the movement is a good example. On the one hand, an emphasis on motherhood has always seemed to some feminists something like a reiteration of Japanese government spewed propaganda, a way of defining women according to how they could contribute to the state -- which was by producing sons — and limiting women from defining themselves in a more active, expansive role. In another way, it emphasized the importance of one aspect of many women's lives, which had never quite received the value recognition it deserves. This idea has been around since the beginning of the women's movement initiating great controversy; it also has initiated great discussion, and has been a vehicle to getting more women to think about what it means to be woman and/or feminist. This is seen particularly in the great controversy stirred up in Japan when XXX brought her child to the TV studioXXX.
These splintered dimensions of feminism can also be seen to be a reflection of more complex times, the fluidity of thought and the degree to which the idea of feminism has been thought about and developed in Japan. In some ways, one of the basic tenets of feminism — reformation of gender roles — has been used as a vehicle to instigate movement in other areas of thought, whether it be economics, the environment, or changing and expanding roles for men. In turn, these "reforms" have created their own theoretical bases and spread out in their own directions, often diverging from ideas that have normally been seen as feminist-related. Thus, on the surface, Japanese feminism and the idea of feminism itself can seem like an inconsistent maze of thoughts and ideas jumbled across a wide spectrum. Yet, in actuality, it is a living, breathing movement that cannot be simply described.
For those not familiar with feminist discourse, there does need to be a working definition of Japanese feminism. Chiyo Saito, founder of Japan's longest running feminist journal Agora, offers us a basic definition in her essay on Japanese feminism: "An international cultural and human rights movement to "cleanse" experience and knowledge, a movement that adopts a female perspective rather than a traditional male value system. Opposition to the privileging of production and efficiency models. The privileging of human life and sexuality. The elimination of all discrimination based on gender, economic status, race, culture, education, etc."(republished in Buckley, 1997). Although Saito says this is her own private definition and subject to change, it is much more representative than say, an old definition, such as the one in Kojien (3d ed.; Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1983), Japan's most representative dictionary. The entry for "feminizumu" there reads: "A theory calling for the extension of women's rights within society, politics and the law. Women's liberation. Women's rights. Gender equity . Respect for women. (Feminist: i. a women's liberationist, women's rights activist, equal opportunity supporter, ii. A man with a weakness for women, a worshiper of women." Although this second definition is somewhat humorous and definitely out-of-date, there are still some Japanese people, at least until quite recently, who have attached such meaning to the word "feminist."
Saito also aptly points out that it is a bit strange to talk put a country qualifier before the word feminism. "Isn't it somewhat problematic to talk about European feminism, American feminism. However "if we accept the concept of diversity as a characteristic of feminism, then there is no reason why there should not be a multitude of feminisms in direct relation to geographic, historical and contextual variables" (Saito, reprinted in Buckley, 1997). Thus, it is could be acceptable to discuss what's different about Japanese feminism, as long as one realizes that within that phrase there lies a multiplicity of concepts.
One main distinction that underlines all Japanese feminism(s) is that since the early day of the Tokugawa rulers the "woman question" has been part of social and political discourse among political and intellectual and moral leaders alike. "The issue of how women should behave and what they should and should not do has rarely been left either to chance or to individual choice" (Bernstein, 1991). Women have always been defined by the state as how they could best serve the state. In Tokugawa period women best served the family by being uneducated and working as farm laborers and household managers (Bernstein, 1991.) In the Meiji period — the beginning of Japan as a modern state — women had to contribute by raising sons and working in factories to supplement income. Later, in wartime, women were called to raise large families to contribute to Japan's imperialist efforts, while in postwar Japan they were called upon to raise smaller families to foster Japan's economic prosperity. (Bernstein, 1991). This constant mobilization by the government left most women with no time to seek modes of self-expression, nor tools to begin doing so. However, there were those, many from the middle to upper class, who still managed to break tradition and forge new roads. They accomplished a great deal for women on a social level. However, the personal aspects were somewhat neglected. This was an active choice of the women leaders at that time.
Historical and Cultural Factors:
Historical and cultural factors have also acted as catalysts on the Japanese feminist movement tearing it away from the basic premise of its founders: raising consciousness. Many of the original framers of the feminist movement wanted to free females from rigid state definitions of womanhood, which had been proliferated through the patriarchal " ie" (household) system and "ryosai kenbo" (good wife, wise mother) educational philosophy. The ryosai kenbo philosophy allowed Meiji women to finally attend school, however only to learn the arts of homemaking and motherhood. The ie system legally placed the eldest male at the head of the household and restricted women from owning property, divorcing and holding any position of power. It's important to note that the tenets of these two systems, implemented in the late 1800s and lasting until right after World War II, have been so insidiously woven into the fabric of everyday life that even today -- unbeknownst to many Japanese women -- they act as barriers to true gender equality. The conscious and unconscious proliferation of the ryosai kenbo philosophy, and the ie systems has greatly inhibited the growth of feminist consciousness in Japan throughout the entire century. Women in Japan are barely able to see themselves beyond the role of mother and wife. It is within this context that the women of their past had been defined — it is the legacy handed down to them by their mothers and grandmothers. The remnants of the ie system, the strength and confidence it gives the Japanese male, also, in turn, reinforces the remnants of the ryosai kenbo philosophy. Together these outdated, yet still-apparent systems act to block the flow of feminist consciousness in Japan.
Other factors within the movement itself have also hindered the development of Japanese feminist consciousness. Early feminists had wanted the movement to be an "expression of inward desire" that each woman could self-define (Raicho Hiratsuka, 1971). However, this explosion of self became mired in the various political aspects that arose in each subsequent decade, and was lost under more "practical" considerations. For example, in the 1920s, many key women leaders abandoned feminism to join the Socialist movement, which focused on overhauling society rather than the individual woman. Others turned the focus of the movement to obtaining suffrage. Thus, once having achieved suffrage in post WWII, the whole movement lost direction and was nearly subsumed under a Socialist wing that was active at the time. In addition, elements, such as the strength of the imperial household and Japanese male-dominated political and social structures, as well as WWII also acted as catalysts on the movement. I'll go more in depth into this in the body of the paper.
The New Women
As early as the 1880s there were women, such as Kishida Toshiko, Fukuda Hideko and Tsuda Umeko, who worked one way or another to improve the quality of life for women; and there were also men, like educators Fukuzawa Yukichi and Doi Koka, who outright advocated gender equality. Along with a friend Fukuda founded the Society for the Liberation of Women (Fujutsui kasiha) to teach women self-reliance (Robins-Mowry, 1983). However, many of the issues and concerns these early feminists raised were submerged into the general civil rights movement (jiyumen kenundo) of the time period. This submersion ultimately did little to help the plight of Meiji women, who were relegated to subservient roles to men in almost every sphere of life. In one of Kishida famous statements of the times, she says: "Are not women also human beings? ...it is as human beings that women have their divinely given rights and liberty ... What reason is there for regarding politics as outside the sphere of woman and resting indifferent to man's monopoly of it?"(Robins-Mowry, 1983).
While the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution in 1889 seemed a step toward parliamentary government and popular participation, it was offset by the passage of the Peace Preservation Law of 1889. Article Five of this law prohibited women from joining political associations and from sponsoring or attending meetings (Satchiko, Kaneko, 1995). The very fact this law was enacted shows that women were at the precipice of becoming an active political force of the time. If the Japanese government was not concerned about women breaking political and societal boundaries Japanese men deemed conventional, such a law would not have been necessary. Due to this prohibition, women's organizations before 1919, when the law was finally revoked, were necessarily literary or philanthropic in character. Yet, within such "non-political" organizations, women still worked to improve social conditions. One such association, the Osaka Reform Society, founded in 1899, pushed anti-prostitution efforts in Osaka, and worked to improve conditions for the impoverished. The infamous and often misconstrued Kanno Suga, born amid the popular rights movement in 1881, became an integral part of this society at one time (Sharon Sievers, 1983).
Kanno, an activist, is one of the bridges between the popular rights feminists and the feminists that arose within the Bluestocking Society group of 1911 (Sievers, 1983). "The first woman to be executed as a political prisoner in Japan's modern history, Kanno is supposed to have shouted from the scaffold, 'We die for our principles. Banzai!'" (Sievers, 1983). Kanno worked for women and spoke to women — later within the context of her larger philosophy of socialism. Her writings urged women to educate and empower themselves, and to rearrange their priorities so they can improve their lot in life. One of her articles, written for the home section of the progressive Muro News in December of 1905 called for women to help raise their consciousness by spending more time reading.
"Heartless as it may seem to suggest to these women without
a moment's leisure, I earnestly recommend that they do some reading...Without new knowledge, without ideals, unable to
converse about a single current event, women become
'domesticated wives.' They are the slaves of men. In such circumstances, how is it possible for them to cry out freedom
and rights. Are they qualified to do that?" (Kanno Suga pen
name Sugako),"Fujin to Dokussho," Muro Shimpo, 540
(December, 1905), reprinted in Sekiyama, pp. 11, 19-20,
(Kanno, 1905 cited in Seivers, 1983.)
In another article published for the same paper on April 15, 1906, she attacked men's views of the world and women. In this fiery piece, Kanno suggests that men have no right to comment on the chastity and women — and asks why women stand for it. Kanno suggests women rise up and wake up — quite a revolutionary idea for time period, when the first women who had been indoctrinated under the ryosai kenbo philosophy were just coming of age.
"Among the most annoying things in the world, I think men
are the most annoying. When I hear them carrying on -
interminably about female chastity I want to burst out
laughing. We should have some evidence of the speakers'
competence to speak to such a subject before we agree to
listen, I cannot contain my disgust over the fact that in our
society, eloquent men so brashly and brazenly speak to
the issue of female chastity...it is incredibly insulting to women.
And I find it exceedingly strange that we women do not
rise up and stop all this male discussion of chastity. I
greet with utmost cynicism and unbridled hatred the
debauched male of today who rattles on about good wives,
wise mothers. Where do all these men get the right to
emphasize chastity? Before they begin stressing women's
chastity, they ought to perfect their own male chastity and
concentrate on becoming wise fathers and good husbands!
Of all the contradictions one sees in the world, this one is
Rise up, women! Wake up! ...our demands for freedom and
equality with men will not be won easily just because we will it;
they will not be won if we do not raise our voices , if no
blood is shed. (Kanno Suga, 1905, cited in Sievers, 1983)
Kanno represents a women who empowered herself and tried to help other women to do the same. One of the few to penetrate the journalism field at that time, she used it as a forum to fight for equal rights for women, and help to raise the consciousness of Japanese society. She was quite "ahead" of her time — at least among Japanese women of her day. She was bold and direct, breaking away from all societal constraints that so tightly bound other Japanese women. This carried her into some troublesome areas, which, as I mentioned earlier, eventually brought on her own execution.
There were other women, like Kanno, who spoke out against state definitions of womanhood. These individual efforts are the links in the chain from early to late Meiji period, and are important indicators of the era's fledgling feminist movement. However, it was the Bluestocking women of late Meiji, early Taisho who first began a more collaborative movement of the "New women." The Bluestocking magazine (Seito) and (Seito-sha)society was founded by Hiratsuka Raicho and "named in the honor of the Bluestocking Movement in England, about the portrayal by the actress Matsui Sumako or Nora, a new woman, in the production of Ibesen's A Doll's House in 1912" (Bernstein, 1991).
The blossoming of feminist consciousness can truly be seen in this "radical" group of literary origins. In one of her poems, the much-lauded feminist poet Yosano Akiko described these early "women libbers" as "awakened and moving women" (Seito, 1911, cited in Robins-Mowry, 1983). These women pushed the envelope of state defined gender roles of their time. Newspapers reporters described Bluestocking members as risque and outrageous. Although men had been free to have affairs and even up to 1880 to legally have concubines, women were subject to much more scrutiny, and had few freedoms. The Civil Code of 1898 legally created the ie system, which based family relations of patriarchal power and respect for the family line. A wife had no rights over her husband's family property, nor rights over her children. A women was considered legally incompetent along with three other classifications: minors, the physically abnormal, and the mentally deficient (Robins-Mowry, 1983; Bernstein, 1991). She needed her husband's permission in almost all financial transactions.
One of the Bluestockings founders, Hiratsuka, broke this mold and entered into a free-love, common-law marriage with the artist Okurmura Hiroshi to demonstrate her opposition to what she called "feudalistic marriage." Other flaunting of conventions by the Bluestocking women included trips to inspect brothels, and the drinking of special liquor — events which the newspapers picked up on and sensationalized. The new "roles" these women were experimenting with created somewhat of a backlash. More conservative and orthodox women also working to improve conditions for women, such as Dr. Yoshioka Yayoi, founder of the Japan's Women's Medical School, criticized the Bluestockings as being lawless and immoral. Kawai Michi, a Bryn Mawr graduate, Christian worker, and professor at Tsuda College, joined with Shimoda Utako and others to start a counter campaign against the Bluestockings, "whose purpose it was to uphold humanity against brutal liberation of mind, manners and the flesh" (Robins-Mowry, 1983). Similar to the counter-suffrage movement that took place in the States, these "opposition women" were frightened of the breaking away of tradition and unexplored lifestyle that these bluestocking women reveled in. These more conservative women didn't recognize that Hiratsuka was working to open up new channels for women in a manner in which she once summed up like this:
"I am a new woman.
Daily I wish to be and try to become a true new women.
What is truly and forever new is the sun. I am the sun.
A new woman does not live " yesterday"... is no longer
satisfied with the old life where women were forced to
remain ignorant slaves used for man's selfishness...
A new women, not only wishes to break the old morals and
codes of men's egoism, she wishes also to create in herself
a kingdom of new religion" (Hiratsuka, 1911 in "Seito,"
cited in Robins-Mowry, 1983).
Hiratsuka is credited by historians with being the a pivotal figure in the feminist movement of modern Japan. However, Robins-Mowry writes that Hiratsuka and her Bluestocking colleagues were" inspirational harbingers of the modern women rather than effectures of social change"(1983). I think here is where Robins-Mowry and others miss the point. Yes, it is true that these women were the heart and soul of the feminist movement. In addition, their consciousness-raising efforts and courage to break the traditional boundaries made them, indeed, very effective to "true" social change. Perhaps they all didn't work for changing legal conditions, (some did), but their very acts of defiance paved the feminist road that other women could follow. They rejected the state mandated policy of good wife, wise mother role for women and helped others to see that women had all kinds of talents. This kind of thinking is the basis on which social change begins. This, I think, is the most important work of feminists and one important component that has been somewhat lacking in Japan's overall feminist movement. One complaint of today's Japanese society is of a lack of such role models -- women who can flaunt convention, and strike out boldly down new roads. It can be said that in all outward legal appearances, Japan women today have the same rights as men. They vote, hold public office, are an important factor in the labor force. Why then are they , as Jane Condon puts it in her 1993?— book, still a half-step behind? I think the answer lies in the rejection of what these early Taisho feminists were trying to do: act as pioneers to the spirit of "being woman."
Japanese women today have only slightly penetrated the prejudices that have held in the past. True, they hold office — but accounted for only around three percent of the overall body of government up until the inauguration of the Heisei era in 1989. Since then the percentage has increased to about six percent 1990 (OGEquality, fifth Report.) Women also now occupy managerial positions to a greater extent: 1.3 percent of all professional employees in 1950, 5.3 percent in 1975 to 9.2 percent in 1995 (OGE). However encouraging these numbers seem, they are still marginal and show the thick glass ceiling for women trying to move up in government and business spheres as well as the weakness of women trying to break that glass ceiling. This is because many Japanese women and men have yet to internalize the feminist concepts that sprouted in the Meiji period.
Hiratsuka has pointed out that initially the Bluestocking magazine was not created as a vehicle for feminism, or for the economic and political liberation of women; it was designed to encourage the creative literary talents of women. (Hiratsuka 1970, reprinted in Sievers, 1983) In that sense, it was for women to overcome the barriers within themselves, to be explorative, be creative. Hiratsuka points out in a later interview that this essentially was the purpose of the magazine and society. "The power to fully develop...great hidden ability and genius makes it necessary to first remove all obstacles to women's development...including outside pressures...and a general lack of knowledge...However, the most significant barriers lie within ourselves" (Hiratsuka, 1971, Sievers, 1983).
The various feminists who contributed to the magazine — as it took on more and more of a political and social overtone — were the pivotal figures in helping the state to lose its monopoly over gender construction in Japan. These feminists, Yosano Akiko, Hiratsuka Raicho, Yamakawa Kikue and Yamada Waka laid the groundwork for further debate and began the process of dissecting the obstacles that held woman back from true equality. These women initially recognized that internal as well as external changes would be needed to ensure Japanese women took an equal standing next to the men in their society. The fight to redefine women's role in society raged between these women. At last, it was women who were trying to define a woman's "nature" and role in society — not men or the government. However, many women did not understand what these women were trying to do; they were frightened of changes to the status quo. Looking back, Ichikawa said that the task of elevating women's status was difficult because there was not enough cooperation from either women or men ( Robins-Mowry, 1983).
There was also a division seen between women who associated themselves with the concept of support for motherhood as a means of emancipation, and women who were seen to advocate economic independence for women. In 1917, Waka writes:
"Today the women's movement has split into two
roads. One branch asserts that motherhood is a
woman's heaven-ordained occupation, that a
woman's world is the family, and the for a woman
to leave the family and compete with men degrades
the woman and damages the family. The other branch
argues that women are human beings deserving all
the rights and privileges accorded to men as well
as the freedom to participate equally with men in life."
(Yamada Waka, 1917, reprinted in Robins Mowry, 1983)
This division in intention as well as a loss of feminist leaders to Socialism caused the billowing movement to lose some of the wind in its sails. The movement that arose to teach women that they are "the sun," was enervated by the lack of cohesion among women leaders, and the focus on external rather than inner changes. Japanese women had opened up a box of possibilities for themselves, but they still had to teach themselves how to best use those possibilities.
After a few starts and stops throughout the 1920s,-- the dissolution of the movement and desertion of key women leaders -- we get to the "modan gaaru." Although probably not characterized correctly by the media — some even say, she was a complete construction of the media — the "modan gaaru" autonomy shows us part of the important progression of feminist spirit in Japan. She was vibrant and free from the societal pressures and mores that so controlled other Japanese women.
The Modern Women
After a decade of spreading of their wings, early feminists moved into other spheres in the early 1920s, and the group of fiery "Bluestockings" splintered off into different directions. There was, however, an initial solidifying of core leaders of the women's movement into a more cohesive framework through the Shin Fujin Kyokai (New Women's Association) in 1920. The organization, founded by Hirastuka Raicho and political activist Ichikawa Fusae, played an important role in the abrogation of the early peace preservation law, which forbid women from meeting politically. After reaching this goal in 1922, the association subsequently dissolved — due to a lack of cohesion and passion among members.
Other women leaders, influenced by the idea of overhauling socio-economic structures, moved away from direct women's issues and joined up with varying political factions. Yamakawa Kikue's writings, for example, contributed greatly to the Marxist women's movement of the late Taisho, early Showa era. For these women leaders of the proletarian movement, socialism came before suffrage from women. "(They) shied away from a focus on women's political emancipation. They criticized the New Women's Association as bourgeois in attitude, impractical, and lacking in attention to the fundamental needs of the poor and the workers and the class war" ( Robins-Mowry, 1983). The abandoning of feminism by these women surely weakened the entire movement. The passion and ideas of these women leaders who envisioned overhauling all of society could have been the pillars the women's movement so desperately needed at the time. Women who were strong enough to speak out against stereotypical roles, women who could have been role models for future generations of Japanese women.
Despite losing women that could have been useful to the propagation of the women's movement, the New Women's Association did manage to create a new program for Japanese women before it disintegrated. Women leaders specifically decided to work for: a higher standard of education for women, coeducation in primary schools, women's suffrage, revision of laws unfavorable to women, protection of motherhood. These five goals created a tangible program that gave the women's movement a practical focus, but did little to touch the hearts of individual women themselves. However, despite the fact it didn't call for a complete revision of women's roles in society, and left an emphasis on motherhood — it put in place a step by step program through which some of the obstacles to women's emancipation could be recognized and transformed. More and more women of the times were educated and went out into the workplace, albeit in low-paying, low status positions. This movement of women into the workplace began to change the face of Japanese society — but in some ways it was a surface change. In the office, women still played the role men had set out for them -- they still had to fetch the tea, and act as general care-giver. Yet, economic independence, although limited, did give women a few new freedoms in which they could redefine their individual roles. It was within this context that the media birthed the "modan gaaru" (modern girl).
The"modan gaaru" of Japan's mid and late 1920s isn't easy to define. She could be considered one of the first images of a "radical feminist" —in that she was defining herself anew, thus feministic in nature. She was, perhaps, one of the first byproducts of the Japanese feminist movement — one of the first changes some women underwent for the sake of liberty and freedom of expression. The "modan gaaru" of the mid to late 1920s flaunted traditions; she smoked, drank and wore Western garb — often in the flapper tradition. In some ways she was her own women, yet she was also depicted by the media as shockingly erotic, therefore loose and lost spiritually. The eroticism of the "modan gaaru" went against deeply embedded Confucian traditions. Confucian taboos have always put a priority on women's chastity, and in Japan, there has often been a tendency to divide women into two "service" categories: mothers and prostitutes. If the "modan gaaru" was not a mother, or aiming to be one, ergo she must be a slut. This angel/whore dichotomy is not unique to Japan, but it is strong underlying theme throughout Japanese feminist history.
Journalists may have grappled with the ""Modern Woman's" sexual activity, gender identity and cultural identification, but they were unanimous in proclaiming her autonomy (Miriam Silverberg, 1991). In this she can be considered a woman who was breaking away from state-definitions of womanhood and forging out on her own. Hiratsuka portrayed the "Modern Woman" as the daughter of the New Women and as someone who had the power to create the future because of her thought, emotion, action and everyday life ( Hiratsuka, 1927, reprinted in Silverberg, 1991). The Modern Women was said to be different from the New Woman in that she was more realistic, than romantic, wielding economics, not ideals (Silverberg, 1991). The "Modern Woman" was one who knew who she was, what she wanted, and wasn't afraid to take it. In that sense, this freedom of expression exalted by the "Modern Woman" is a great tribute to the consciousness-raising work of the "New Woman," whose ideas paved the way for such revelations. The "Modern Woman" stood as a symbol of change, of modernization, of the positive and negative aspects that it brought. She inverted the role of Good Wife, Wise Mother (Silverberg, 1991). She was the change of consciousness although she didn't advocate it for other women — and is portrayed by the media as selfish, without a social conscience.
It has been difficult for historians to discern the media hype of the "Modern Woman" with the reality of the "Modern Woman". A lot of what was written was a reaction to the women entering the workplace, as well as a reflection of a society's process of trying to change its own concepts of what is the "nature" of woman. However, the very fact this new image of woman caused so much debate shows that the consciousness - raising work of the early Meiji feminists was not fully in vain. Japanese women were breaking new ground, and if it weren't for the growing imperialistic shadow of the Japanese government, and strident nationalism and militaristic domination that soon was to descend, the feminist movement might have had a greater chance to really make a difference in women's lives.
Throughout the 1920s, and 1930s women continued to work for suffrage and joined together for a range of reasons — but the focus on birthing a new, modern women was submerged under more practical concerns. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 is said to have had a great effect on the organizational ability of women — that is the solidification of women into disaster relief groups taught women how to work together in a large group toward a common goal (Satchiko Kaneko, 1995). In addition, the mid to late 1920s also saw the brief flourishing of democratic ideology . Despite the renewal of some Peace Preservation laws, which forbid groups from meeting to politically undermine the current government system in any way, men received universal suffrage in 1925. Soon afterward, a few middle to upper class women did their best to vie for women's suffrage. Kubushiro Ochima and Ichikawa established the league for the Realization of Woman Suffrage (Fujin sanseiken kakutoku kisei domekai.), which later became the Women's Suffrage League (Fusen kakutoku domei).
The group's manifesto read:
"Women, who form one-half of the population of the
country, have been left entirely outside the field of
political activity, classified along with males of less
than 25 years of age and those who are recipients of
relief or aid from State or private organizations. We
women feel ourselves no longer compelled to explain
the reasons why it is at once natural and necessary for us,
who are both human beings and citizens of our country...
We women must concentrate our energies solely on one
thing, namely, the acquisition of the right to take part in
politics, and cooperate with one other regardless of any
political, religious and other differences we may have."
It was thought that by the time of the Manchurian Incident in September of 1931, women's suffrage was imminent. (Sachiko Kaneko, 1995). However, the vote fell short in the upper house and for the next two decades feminism and women's emancipation took a back seat among the rising tide of nationalism. Independent groups of women formed for patriotic and social reasons; the Women's National Defense Association (Kokubo fujikai) was established and was supported by the army and there was also a group called the Women's Patriotic Society (Aikoku fujikai,) which formed in 1931. These two groups saw soldiers off at trains and prepared comfort bags for the war effort ( Kaneko, 1996) -- still playing the caregiver role. By the end of 1935, membership in both Associations combined accounted for 4.7 million. (Robins-Mowry, 1983) Although the 1762 members of the Women's Suffrage League in 1932 was seen as great — it was nothing in comparison to the amount of women who joined these patriotic groups. As a matter of fact, nationalism reigned over women's rights and the tide of suffrage for women was reversed. This resurgence of conservative attitudes can particularly be seen in the vote of eight hundred to three against women's suffrage by women primary school teachers in their convention in 1934 (Hugh Keenleyside and A. F. Thomas, 1937, reprinted in Robins, Mowry, 1983). From this time onward, despite the efforts of Hiratsuka and a few other "upperclass" women, fight for women's political rights was put aside. Instead, reformers look to the Diet to vote on legislation to improve conditions for mothers and children (Robins-Mowry, 1983).
It is obvious that Japan's military polices had a great effect on the women's movement, forcing it to change its focus. Instead of suffrage, in 1934 women demanded passage of the Protection of Mother and Child bill. It was approved in 1936, because the government saw an increase in population as a way to increase the war effort. The Women's Suffrage League totally disbanded in 1940. And after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, all women's associations were consolidated under the control of government authorities vis a vis the Great Japan Women's Organization (Dai-Nippon fujinkai). Ironically, while the government at this time emphasized that a women's place was in the home, women were forced to take a greater role outside the home in factories, and other businesses. Despite women further into the workplace during wartime, however, they still weren't allowed to assume positions of responsibility when men finally returned to their jobs. When the war ended, Japan was so devastated, women wore many different hats — both at home in the workplace. However, despite economic improvements and better educational opportunities, women were unable to break into key positions in the workplace; thus many decided that staying at home would be better than working a low-paying, low status job.
Post-War "Uman Riba"
In some ways, the immediate post-war women's movement lacked the drive and cohesion of the prewar movement. True, more women were elected to office at this time then ever in Japan's history. True, women turned out to vote in droves, at over 60 percent. But the focus on women banding together to expand their roles in society and become "like the sun" had been completely lost. This is attributable to a few reasons. First of all, the main thrust of the 1920s/1930s women's movement had been achieving suffrage. In post war, the goal of these suffragists had been achieved -- thanks to the policies put into place by General MacArthur and the new post war Constitution. As I discussed earlier, in 1948 women were given the right to vote and the ie system was also legally abolished. Two major stumbling blocks for the emancipation of women had been, to a certain degree, taken away. With this, the women's movement lost the focus it had made central in immediate prewar days. Instead, the socialist women's movement also apparent in the 1920s, 1930s gained some momentum. This movement adhered to traditional Marxist notions that the oppression of women in a capitalist society with dissipate with the actualization of a classless society. The socialist movement both before and after the war, "had neglected to cultivate, and had even blunted, the self-awareness of individual members as active and creative agents of the movement"(Kazuko Tanaka, 1995). Therefore it wasn't nor never had been focused on raising women's individual awareness — what Japanese women later rediscovered as as a core component needed for a feminist movement. In addition, despite prewar attempts by Japanese women to win the right to vote — it didn't extend across class boundaries as it did in the West. Furthermore, due to the pressures of Japanese growing imperialism, the suffrage movement was stifled before it really began in earnest.
I think there is also one other interesting component that could account for the lack of drive in the immediate post war feminist movement as well as the political apathy in Japanese women. The fact that Japanese women were "given" the right to vote rather than flooding the streets to win it, resulted in a phenomenon similar to the top-down" democracy theory in Japan. This theory surmises that Japanese people don't have a "true" democracy"-- where almost every citizen meaningfully plays a part — because it was "given" to them by the Allied Powers vis a vis the post war Constitution. This also could be applicable to women's suffrage. Because women from all walks of life didn't gather together to fight and obtain suffrage, it didn't make a strong impact on their consciousness -- just as a "heart" for democracy has been said to be a missing component in Japanese society today .
"Democratic ideals were achieved in Western countries step
by step by people really thinking about them very hard.
Winning them step by step is hard work. Here in Japan,
democracy arrived in a sudden switch. Freedom and democratic
ideas were placed on the people, not just spontaneously, but
through the American Occupation process with the result that
it was rather unnatural, I think" (Psychiatrist and Educator
Kamiya Mieko, reprinted in Robins-Mowry, 1983).
Lastly, although the war had taught women to be more self-sufficient, it had also taught them to be more practical. Becoming "like the sun" and any other visionary idea of breaking the bonds of government defined womanhood was subsumed into post war reality of helping to rebuild a war-devastated Japan. Moreover, Japanese women had for so long been indoctrinated by the ryosai kenbo, ie system and Confucian philosophy, they didn't have the awareness nor tools to break free, even thought many legal constraints to true equality had been taken away. As Tanaka points out:
"The fact that rising entry by women into the labor force in the
decade of the 1960s resulted in limited progress for them had
to also with women's own self-restricting attitudes. Since women
had deeply internalized dominant social norms, such as"women's
place is in the home, and "good wife, wise mother" is — spite
of the fact that more women were working for pay outside the
home, the division of sex roles in the family changed little." (1995)
In post-war torn Japan, stability and success of family and occupation became driving factors, and women's access to education, although a beginning, was somewhat restricted. To ensure economic stability, women began to have less children. This period also saw emergence of the "education mama," who did everything she could to enjoin the success of her male children. The ideal was for a man to get into a good college and become a "salary man" for a large company — this would ultimately provide security for the whole family. Women were tolerated in the workplace, but were seen to be wholly on a different track — a track that was less important and less vertically mobile than men.
"During the 1960s, college-educated women faced
considerable job discrimination. For one thing, they were
a "new species" — an unknown quantity. Their education
warranted high starting salaries, for academic accomplishment
is the established criterion in such matters. But because it was
assumed that they would not work their entire adult lives and
most probably wold not wish to move from place to place
in job progression — a normal process in Japan - the
employer considered them expensive and a needless luxury"
Many women decided not to persevere, and followed the pattern that was laid out for them: college, brief career, then motherhood. However, education had transformed them in many ways, and some went on to form neighborhood groups that were active in environmental and social movements at a grassroots level.
In the late 1960s, there emerged a new "radical" feminist movement, and a focus on feminist consciousness was once more the central theme. The litany of the early Bluestockings on how women "were the sun" was taken up again. Sexual liberation and liberation of women from traditional roles became a focus of the movement. Similar to Western movements, Japanese women took the streets in marches, held encounter groups and started vocally tackling gender issues, and their manifestations in society. However, the "extremeness" of this group as perceived by men and the media, and the growing nationalism in the 1980s, squashed the momentum and created a harsh backlash. Despite the entrance of more and more women into the workforce an idea was proliferated by men, and also by women frightened of the strong changes the movement heralded, that Japanese females, unlike Western women, were perfectly content in their role as mother and housewife. The argument that Japanese women did indeed have considerable power — particularly in the household, because they "controlled the purse strings" — was often used to show how "wrong" the feminists were. What wasn't taken into consideration was the fact that women still held a subservient position to elder males within the household and that most men had the final decisions on major purchases. Not to mention, most importantly, the fact that political, economical and international power was still out of reach for Japanese women who aspired to go beyond the confines of their homes.
The late 1980s and 1990s also saw the splintering of feminists even further into factions, which took Japanese feminists into new realms. However, rather than being a negative development, this struggle of varying feminist ideology served an important function of defining Japanese feminism. The battle understand the nature of feminism and the careful dissection of historical and intrinsic obstacles which held Japanese women back from true equality in Japan added important elements to public discourse on feminism. Many feminists began to point to the lack of empowerment among young women today.
"Empowerment" has recently become a keyword meaning
that women have to take out on the power to act. In this
sense, however, it seems to me that Asian women have a
great deal of power, and is precisely the Japanese women
who are the most dispossessed of all within the region.
What percentage of people participating in women's or
social movements are women, and are their numbers increasing?
If we look at young Japanese women, we see that any interest
they might have had in social issues has been destroyed by
a conformist educational system , material affluence, and
a culture of mass consumption. I don't think we can say
they are "empowered" in any way." (Matsui Yayori, 1995)
All of this discussion resulted in a renewed focus in the mid 1990s on "liberating the minds" of Japanese women, and a more cohesive movement. This is seen in the writings of feminist scholars like Atsuko Kameda, Mioko Fujieda and Kumiko Fujimura- Fanselow. The more recent return to a focus on raising awareness is also seen in the spread of women's studies program in academia in Japan. The proliferation of these programs is a quantitative measure of the recent successes of the Japanese women's movement. In addition, programs are currently being implemented by the women-run divisions of the Japanese government, and a national plan of action called Gender Equality 2000 has been put in place with an emphasis on raising consciousness of both men and women. As the century nears to a close and Japan enters into a new phase economically, these factors indicate that Japanese feminism too has headed into a new wave of existence.
The Feministo and Women Studies
One important indicator that the Japanese women's movement has come full circle and put down roots in Japan is the proliferation of women studies courses on Japanese college campuses. An annual survey done every year since 1983 by the National Women's Education Center (NWEC) indicates these women's studies-related courses are making a visible impact on university campuses. There has been reporting of a heightened awareness of women's issues . Students who have taken classes also report a raising of consciousness (Fujieda, Fujimura-Fanselow, 1995). Conscious-raising is an essential component to the feminist movement and a necessary part of feminist action (Bartley 1975; Westcott 1979; Acker, Barry, Esseveld 1996). Instructors in 1990 and 1992 NWEC surveys "point out that courses have encouraged students to challenge the established, traditional image of sex roles, and (have provided) a more realistic understanding of the nature of sexual discrimination" (Fujieda, Fujimura-Fanselow, 1995). In addition, women studies students have remarked that they are motivated toward a more independent lifestyle and career track (Fujieda, Fujimura-Fanselow, 1995). This is a significant development. Education for women in Japan, containing the residue of the ryosai kenbo philosophy, has not acted as particularly effective conscious raising vehicle on the issue of gender inequality. Geared toward rote memorization and achieving test results, education in Japan has been criticized in the U.S. media as lacking for both men and women. Yet men have been able to use it as a tool to advance the careers they are automatically assumed to want to undertake.
As evidenced by many surveys and international comparisons, Japan, despite having the second largest economy in the world, has an exceptionally high degree of stereotyped conceptions of gender role division which is too often reinforced by education. Women do not receive the same encouragement to seek out competitive high schools and colleges as men ( Atsuko Kameda, 1995). A majority of females pursue higher education in junior colleges rather than four year universities. In 1994, for example, 54 percent of females entering college went to junior colleges; among males, on the other hand, 95 percent went on to four-year universities (Monbusho: Ministry of Education, 1994). The ratio of female entry into four-year universities in the 1990s — 21 percent in 1994 — is about what it was for males in the early 1970s (Monbusho: Ministry of Education 1955 - 1994). Many of these junior colleges have been said to be no more than "finishing" schools which teach Japanese women the art of home economics, and encourage the lingering philosophy of ryosai kenbo. "
The comparatively low rate of female enrollment at four-year universities means that there are even fewer women attending graduate schools. Only 3.7 percent of all women graduating from university continued to graduate school in 1992, compared to 8.8 percent among males (Ministry of Education, 1993.); women constituted only 18.5 percent of students enrolled in master's degree programs and 16.6 percent of those in doctoral programs ( Ministry of Education, 1993). Women are also clustered in traditionally female fields of study: humanities, education, home economics(Ministry of Education 1965 -1993).
The reasons for this are attributable to a number of factors. First and foremost, they reflect certain cultural norms and attitudes regarding the role of women in society. (Fujimura-Fanselow, 1995) The notion that a man should be more educated than his wife is a prevalent one. Second, the residue of the state- driven ryosai kenbo (good wife, wise mother) philosophy relegates women to a marginal role in "outside" society, and a more central role "inside" the home. Most parents want their daughters to receive at least a high school education, but beyond that they think in terms of junior colleges for their daughters and four-year universities for their sons. (Fujuimura-Fanselow, 1995) In a 1988 survey done by NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, 33 percent of the respondents said they wanted their daughters to go to a four- year university, in contrast of 78 percent for sons, while 45 percent wanted their daughters to go to a junior college. This tendency to place lower priority on female education reflects a larger norm that women will not take up careers following school, but will stay home, marry and have children. The structure of higher education perpetuates these disparities, and the way classes are taught reinforces them. Little attention is paid to teaching, and to exploring alternative methods of teaching in Japanese higher education.(Fujimura-Fanselow, 1995) The quality of teaching, even at the most prestigious academies is thought to be very poor. The dominant method is lecture, with a heavy emphasis on top-down knowledge transmission, and little emphasis on student participation. Feminists in Japan have targeted this issue, and through the proliferation of women's studies, hopes to not only to change the dominate male structure and raise consciousness of gender issues, but to challenge teaching methodology. There is obviously a great need for not only feminist pedagogy, but a raising of consciousness among students on campus.
In many ways, women study-related courses in Japan are still in a fledgling stage, and the impact they are having on the academy hasn't be fully gauged. Although such courses began to appear on Japanese college and university campuses in the 1970s, it wasn't until the last ten years that they began to flourish — 58 percent of them have come into existence in the last ten years (NWEC, 1993). This surge in such classes and the obvious interest they are garnering is very telling. Although there are disparities among feminists themselves as to what these classes should represent, their expansion is offering Japanese women something that has been previously lacking: a raising of consciousness from within.
All this being said, there are currently only 268 institutions offering courses in women's studies out of 1,101 institutions (NWEC, 1994). This is about 24 percent. According to the same study, at the graduate level, the number of institutions that reported offering such courses was about six; the total number of courses offered was about eight. The number of courses at the junior colleges and four-year universities ran about 512 total. This may seem like a lot but Fujimura-Fanselow reports that these numbers are misleading. She gives an example of how the numbers differ from the reality: one large private university with a student population of 150,000, of which one-fifth is female, and which has 500 full-time faculty, of whom around 10 are women, there is only one women studies-related course, entitled, "Human Rights and Discrimination" (Fujumura-Fanselow, 1995).
Another point of interest concerns the extent to which these courses are taught from what is considered a "feminist perspective." Fujimura-Fanselow estimates that courses with a feminist perspectives make up about one-third of all courses offered, which would be about 170 courses. The rest seem to consist of a "add women and stir" type of approach. Nonetheless they point to a trend in Japan and will perhaps act as the seeds to create the "changed Japanese woman" that Japan feminists have been seeking to establish since the Meiji Period.
Although indications that Japan feminism has really taken root in Japan can seem somewhat dubious to outsiders, the signs are definitely becoming more apparent. Current feminist writings by Japanese women show feminist leaders are aware of the need for empowerment and are at the fledgling stage of putting more and more programs to raise consciousness into action at grassroots and upper levels. These will be the factors that bridge the great gap in theory and equality for Japanese women. Each individual Japanese woman will be taught how to experience a personal transformation. What critical Western feminists have to be aware of is the fact that change doesn't occur overnight. The Japanese feminist movement has lagged behind that of the West due to certain historical and contextual variables, as well as due to the fact many men and women touting the "Asian values are different" standpoint have obscured the reality of the situation. However these obstacles are becoming obsolete. The spread of women's studies in academia, an awareness of the problem at top government levels, the fact more and more women are gaining top positions in business shows a commitment to overhauling gender stereotypes in Japan, and bodes well for the future. For the past 30 years scholars have been touting the litany of the changing Japanese women, I think the time has come where we can finally note the "changed" Japanese woman, who is in fact the "new" woman, the feminist that arose to take her place at the start of the 20th century.
Feminism and Social Change, 1996, Ed. Heidi Gottfried , University of Illinois Press
Women in Changing Japan, 1976 , edited by Joyce Libra, Stanford Press
The Hidden Sun: Women of Modern Japan, 1983, Dorothy Robins Mowry, Westview Press
Flowers in Salt: Beginning of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan, 1983, Sharon Sievers, Stanford U. Press
Japanese Women: Constraint and Fufillment, 1984, Takie Sugiyama Lebra, U. Of Hawaii Press
Urban Housewives, 1987 Anne Imamura, U. Of Hawaii Press
A Half Step Behind: Japanese Women Today, 1991, Jane Condon, Charles E. Tuttle Co.
Postwar Japan as History, 1993, Andrew Gordon edition, U. of California Press.
Japanese Women: New Femininst Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future, 1995, edited by Kumiko Fujikura Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda, Feminist Press.
Women, Media and Consumption in Japan, 1995, Lisa Skov and Brian Moeran, U. of
Postwar Japan, 1945 to present, 1996 Paul Bailey, Blackwell Publications.
Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism, 1997, Sandra Buckley, University of California Press
Works Cited Cont'd
Recreating Japanese Women, 1991, Ed. Gail Lee Bernstein, University of California Press
Voices from the Women's Movement, 1996, Ed. AMPO, M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
"Fifth Report on the Implementation of the New National Plan of Action toward the year 2000," 1997, Office for Gender Equality
National Women Education Center surveys (1994 – present)