Akie Abe, wife to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is at the forefront of the growing movement to empower more women in Japan to participate in the workforce and boost the country’s shrinking workforce.
Mrs Abe will be delivering a welcome remark at a major forthcoming international energy event in Japan in April – the Gastech Exhibition & Conference – and will be using the opportunity to highlight to the energy industry the importance of developing a robust, professional female workforce.
In response to government findings that Japan’s population is forecast to drastically shrink around 30% by 2060, the government has taken steps towards securing the nation’s long-term economic future by unveiling a plan aimed at boosting the labour force by more than 1.1 million before 2020 – a significant proportion of which would include women.
Mrs Abe often speaks out about the country-wide initiative, known as ‘Womenomics’, which centres on enabling more working-age women in Japan to participate in the labour force. At present, just 63% of Japanese women undertake any form of paid employment, compared to nearly 85% of men, in one of the developed world’s most conservative economies where women are more often expected to remain home as housewives or as parents.
Often regarded as an outspoken voice in Japan on matters of social concern, Mrs Abe is particularly keen to drive more women into professional roles and into industries traditionally dominated by men – such as the energy sector – where very few Japanese women attain engineering or science degrees that lead into careers in these sectors.
Japan is one of the largest importers of energy – specifically natural gas in liquefied form (LNG) – with a huge employment base in the engineering, production, shipping and storage sectors. The increasingly-important role that women can play in this key Japanese sector will be discussed with the audience at Gastech, when Mrs Abe addresses a special ‘Women in Energy’ programme as part of the main conference programme.
Barbara Jinks, Women in Energy Program Manager states: “The presence of Mrs Abe lends weight to the discussions around diversity in the gas industry and shows the importance of opening dialogue on this issue.”
Now in its second edition, the ‘Women in Energy’ programme at Gastech recognises the talent and prospective career opportunities for women in energy. The agenda covers a range of topics including the championing of gender diversity in the workplace, breaking the glass ceiling, shaping a long-term career strategy, and personal stories from inspirational leaders in the global gas industry.
Gavin Sutcliffe, Head of the Gastech conference programme, comments: “Gastech’s Women in Energy agenda examines the major benefits that a diversified, modern workforce brings to the energy sector.
By continuing to drive improved diversity, the energy industry will be able to better identify and develop key talent pipelines. We are delighted to come to Japan and to be able to welcome such an honoured leader as Mrs Abe to speak about these issues.”