Discussing Gender in Asia: The Upcoming CGS International Workshop "Asian Gender Dialogues"

Etsuko Kato
CGS Director, ICU Senior Associate Professor

【The article below is the same as the article that appears in the thirteenth issue of the CGS Newsletter.】

 Dialogues. There can never be enough discussion over the experiences, discoveries, worries and battles concerning gender and sexuality. The educators and activists in
this field are frequently brought face to face with the prejudices of society as well as their own. They strive to somehow redress those prejudices by themselves and they encourage others to do so as well. Will discussions of "education" in this broader sense, and in an Asian context, help us to discover the rich potentials of education and of Asia?
Furthermore, will it enable us to examine the validity and the limitations of "Asia" itself as a category?

Such were the thoughts that led CGS to plan an international workshop entitled "Asian Gender Dialogues - Education on Gender and Sexuality in Asia." The three-day workshop (with simultaneous interpretation) will be held over the weekend from November 20 to 22. It will feature three core sessions, "University Education," "Religion and Education," and "Education in Grass-Roots Activism."
Each session will begin with reports by three panelists (two from overseas, one from Japan) on education-related activities with reference to the general situation in their own countries. The panelists, from diverse regions such as Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thai, have all played leading roles in education in their own countries and in Asia. This will be followed by free discussion involving all the participants. We aim to make it a friendly, intimate space that will facilitate "dialogues" rather than academic presentations or fiery debate; in other words, dialogues that enable people to talk freely about their personal thoughts and concerns, breaking down the dichotomy of the specialists and the audience.
Why does this workshop focus on the themes of Asia, Education and Dialogues?
Firstly, since CGS was first established, we have strived to promote the development of gender and sexuality research in Asia. From the viewpoint of European and American gender and sexuality research, Japan and other Asian countries are often regarded as "developing regions" where oppression of women and minorities runs rife. In response to this, our mission at CGS is to promote cooperation among Asian countries and transmit the wealth of achievements, dynamism and potential in Asia to the rest of the world. This is the philosophy underlying the workshop this year, as well as the 2004-2007 international workshop series "Gender from Asian Perspectives."
Next, CGS has been working to create a network that brings together gender/ sexuality educators from universities in the Tama region (c.f. article on p.1). This workshop goes one step further by extending these networking activities to the broader framework of Asia.
Finally, "dialogues" are not only a theme for CGS but also for ICU. This year the university has constructed a new multi-purpose facility called "Dialogue House." Featuring conference rooms, accommodation facilities and the university dining hall, it was built with the aim of facilitating meetings and dialogues among diverse peoples. This workshop is one of the commemorative events for the opening of Dialogue House.
All the staff members of CGS are now earnestly involved in preparations for the upcoming workshop with the hope that it will give rise to many stimulating dialogues. We look forward to your inquiries and participation.