Report of the 2021 US-Japan Women Leaders Dialogue | Seeking the "Next Normal"—Creating a Post-Pandemic World Where Women (and Men) Can Thrive

Kimberly Gould Ashizawa
July 2021

What has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been on women? What has the pandemic revealed about our societies, politics, workplaces, and lifestyles? What should the “next normal” be for women in the United States, Japan, and the world? And how can women’s voices be amplified in policymaking and in US-Japan cooperation? 

These were some of the issues on the table when the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) gathered more than 40 top American and Japanese women leaders—including 11 national legislators as well as leaders from government, business, media, philanthropy, academia, and think tanks—for a series of three virtual meetings in March–April 2021. Held as part of the  US-Japan Women Leaders Dialogue, two leading legislators, Hon. Seiko Noda and Hon. Diana DeGette, co-chaired this series of meetings on “Advancing Women’s Leadership in a Time of Crisis.” 


The following recommendations summarize some of the ideas that were generated to address the issues raised during the three discussions, but are solely the responsibility of JCIE. To read the full recommendations, download the report.

Creating the “next normal” 

• Assess and adopt best practices from during the pandemic—e.g., telework, telemedicine, and improved access to broadband and technology

• Offer affordable, high-quality childcare and eldercare for all and ensure that caregivers are paid a wage that reflects their valuable role

• Make paid family leave available to all men and women and promote use of paternity leave

• Shift away from the current reliance on nonregular/contracted employment practices that undermine women’s financial security

• Retrain women, particularly in IT and other areas that provide greater income and job stability. 

• Encourage greater job flexibility and mobility in Japan

• Bring men into the discussion of how to change workstyles to promote work-life balance for all

Promoting women’s political participation and policy impact 

• Promote and expand initiatives to inspire young women to learn about and engage in politics

• Expand programs that support and recruit women candidates for public office

• Reevaluate how politics is conducted in order to attract more diverse and capable voices

• Recruit more cabinet members in Japan from outside of government 

US-Japan collaboration for the post-pandemic world 

• Support US-Japan collaboration to shore up the rules-based international order

• Engage women not just in soft power conversations, but also in bilateral discussions on national and international security issues

• Put women on the agenda of the next US-Japan Summit

• Facilitate US-Japan collaboration to promote and invest in women in STEM and femtech

• Provide opportunities for ongoing dialogues among women leaders 

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