Speech from the ”No Nukes” Symposium

I was invited to speak at the No Nuke Symposium by Women Action Network and Greenpeace – under the label ”Bridge our world with politics”.

Konichiwa, Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Elise Ottesen-Jensen Ottar, a pioneer in the field of women’s rights and feminism, said:

”I dream of the day when every new born child is welcome, when men and women are equal, and when sexuality is an expression of intimacy, joy and tenderness.”

I share this dream.

Who am I – standing in front of you – sharing my dreams with you, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, sumimasen nihongo hana shimasen, I am struggling to learn your beautiful, sophisticated but complicated language. But it takes time and effort.

Why am I in Japan? My husband works for a Japanese cooperation and we are here on a three year contract on courtesy of my husband´s firm. I am a mother of three children, two young men still in Sweden going on with their lives but the youngest child is with us in Tokyo.

I am a lady dreaming about making a difference and willing to support others willing to make a difference. In 2010 I was elected public office after a short but intense personal campaign. And it is because of my experience in that field I am invited to talk to you by Noriko Kanashige and the Woman´s Action Network and Greenpeace.

Thank you Noriko Kanashige for the honor and the possibility – I appreciate it deeply.

Some brief background facts are as follows. My master degree I earned through studies in leadership and development in compulsory schools. I´ve been teaching at high school level for almost two decades and have been working as a project leader for several EU financed school projects in western Europe.

I always had a great interest in politics since my major is social science and sociology. But I´ve only been an active and labeled politician for four years.

My political affiliation is social liberal, also called centrist or a left-liberal. Social liberalism includes a social foundation, the good of the community as it is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. I am a feminist as I believe in the rights advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. And I also believe in a need for an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

Why should women become politicians? And why should women support women who want to run for political office? And why should men support women to become politicians and run for leading positions in the society?

The answer is – For a better world.

Lower social status and less financial resources – is the reality when we in 2012 summarizes and compares women´s situation with men.

This makes women more vulnerable to environmental problems and climate change. And at the same time women have the least power to influence them.

I asked a Japanese lady “why do you in Japan have so few women in leading positions in private enterprises and in public offices”.

She answered me, “we Japanese women are not brought up to become leaders”.

Is a leader the same as a man? If your close your eyes and think of an politician – is it a man that pops up in your inner mind? Then challenge your stereotypes, my friends.

And bring up your daughters to become leaders, give them role models and bring up your sons to appreciate female leaders.

The key to create a better and more prosperous society lays in the capability to develop and retain the best talents for leaders and entrepreneurs. And if you only chose between fifty percent of the population to find them – you will lose in a global competition.

My advices are as follows:

  • Make yourself a name. Do not hide behind political party labels, organizations, or cooperation – become an individual. Tell them your name first, label much later.
  • Be brave – scared and anxious people who always wants to be liked by everyone makes poor politicians. Get used to having enemies, and learn by them but do not dwell.
  • Be yourself! Don´t become someone else – stand true to what you believe in but learn how to compromise.
  • Create networks – Use your friend’s, networks, and their friend´s networks – widen your circle, talk to people you never talk to before.
  • Listen to people – listen to what people around you think is important.

A qoute from my favorite politician, former US secretary of state, Madeleine Ahlbright:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”

Thank you for listening

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