Akie Abe Speaks Her Own Mind to Give Women A Voice
Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Michelle Obama break the mold of the traditional ‘wallflower’ First Lady—hoping women around the world will follow their examples to be active in their local communities. Vivacious, friendly, and enterprising, they have partnered on a mission to promote girls’ education to get 62 million girls into the classroom worldwide
To support a shared development agenda, President Obama’s 2016 budget request included $250 million funding to support the Let Girls Learn initiative. Japan, the largest aid donor in Asia, has pledged $340 million for girls’ empowerment and education. This collaboration, symbolized by the go-getter spirit of both first ladies, has set an example for female advancement around the world. They see the connection between creating opportunity and creating peace. Abe has written about the power of women to engage and connect with others—even rivals—to build the ties that lead to peace.
In her own country, Abe frequently speaks out about the paradox that Japanese women are among the best educated in the world yet often struggle to work their way up the career ladder. She is a leading proponent of “Womenomics” that holds that encouraging more women to stay and rise in the workplace is essential to Japan’s economy.
Abe uses her relationship with her husband as an example of equality and how men have an important part to play in providing women with the flexibility they need to shine. Her husband, the prime minister of Japan, still has to do his share of the household chores and take out the trash.