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Women in Economics

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Stellenbosch University's Department of Political Science  invites you to join: ​

​​A webinar on

Towards closing the gender gap in economic participation: Perspectives from Japan and South Africa

Date: 3 March 2022

Time: 09h00-11h00 (CAT)​


A large body of research supports the argument that gender disparity has economic consequences. It is recognised that more opportunities for women, and attention to women’s empowerment, lead to more favourable outcomes for the next generations. Yet, despite this, gender inequality remains a challenge in many parts of the world.

The webinar will draw together leading experts to discuss the contexts, policies, progress, and obstacles towards women’s economic empowerment, in a comparative perspective. The webinar will seek to review both the gains made as well as the challenges to greater women’s economic participation in two contrasting, but globally important contexts, namely Japan and South Africa.

Japan is a leading economy in the Asia-Pacific as well as globally, while South Africa is one of the African continent’s economic engines. Policies and dynamics in both countries are of direct significance for their neighbours and their regions. Japan adopted a policy of ‘Womenomics’ in 2013 aimed at increasing the number of women in the Japanese workforce and improving their salary levels and working conditions. It is worth mentioning that the following year, Japan centered its diplomacy towards Africa on the empowerment of women and youth on the African continent, two groups which according to the Japanese government will ‘sustain the growth of Africa.’7

In this webinar, experts from Japan and South Africa discuss how advances can be made towards greater women’s empowerment, and what lessons can be learnt from these two contexts for the global community. Specific topics that will be addressed include:

  • Increasing women’s participation in the workforce: Addressing structural and societal obstacles;
  • The role of economic, fiscal, and social welfare policies;
  • Wage equity and women’s economic empowerment;
  • Supporting entrepreneurship as a route to women’s economic participation;
  • Overcoming the COVID-induced setback to women’s empowerment.​


09h00-09h05       Welcome and Moderation
                                 Prof. Scarlett Cornelissen, Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University

09h05-09h15       Welcoming and Introduction
                               Mr Norio Maruyama,  Ambassador of Japan to South Africa. 

                              Prof. Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs,                                  Stellenbosch University​

09h15-09h45       Opening Address

                              Ms. Kaori Sasaki Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative Leadership Group (World                                         Bank) and Founder and CEO, ewoman, Inc. 

09h45-10h15     Panel Discussion

                           Professor Thuli Madonsela, former Public Protector of South Africa, holder of the Law                                  Faculty Trust Chair in Social Justice, Stellenbosch University. 

                            Dr. Futhi Mtoba, Founder, TEACH South Africa and Chair of the Council at the                                                University of Pretoria A former chair and partner of the board of Deloitte Southern                                       Africa

                           Professor Machiko Osawa¸ professor of Economics at Japan Women’s University;                                         director of the ​Women’s Institute for Women and Careers. 

10h15-10h45      Q & A

10h45-11h00     Conclusion ​





Norio Maruyama His Excellency Mr Norio Maruyama is Ambassador of Japan to South Africa. Mr. Maruyama entered the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1983 after completing studies at the University of Tokyo. During an illustrious diplomatic career he served in missions in France, Cambodia (including as Ambassador) and the European Union. He was Minister, and later Ambassador of the Japan Mission to the European Union. Aside from these diplomatic postings, Mr. Maruyama also served in various capacities in the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as director-general of the African Affairs department. Mr. Maruyama has been Ambassador to South Africa since January 2019.’​


Professor Hester Klopper is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she is responsible for overall institutional strategy, institutional research and planning, business intelligence and information governance, corporate communication, marketing and student recruitment, and the international strategy and - relations.


In addition, she is a Professor in the Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. In her academic capacity she has supervised 50+ Master and 35+ PhD students; published 80+ peer-reviewed articles; and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal IJANS.

Internationalisation and Global health has become a focus area of her work over the past decade, and through her visionary leadership, the Global Advisory Panel on the future of Nursing and Midwifery (GAPFON) was established. She has served as Chairperson of GAPFON for 2017-2019. She serves as Director on the following boards: Consortium for Universities in Global Health (CUGH) (2018-2021), the APO Accreditation Body Council (Japan), Venice International University and the Global Alliance for Universities in Climate (GAUC). Hester is to date the only South African inducted into the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), is a Fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and inducted into the International Hall of Fame for Research Excellence in 2016. Also in 2016, a Doctorate (Honoris Causa) from Oxford Brookes University was conferred recognising her contribution to health science education and research globally. In country, she is a Fellow of the Academy of Science (ASSAf), a member of the South African Academy for Science and Art, member of the Institute of Directors of South Africa (IODSA) and Fellow of the Academy of Nursing of South Africa (FANSA).


Scarlett Cornelissen is Professor in Political Science at Stellenbosch University. Her research centres on Africa in the global order, with a specialist focus on diplomacy and economic relations between Japan and Africa. She has held fellowships with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, as well as at Kyoto University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Japan. She was also Leibniz Professor at Leipzig University.​


Ms. Kaori Sasaki Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative Leadership Group (World Bank) and Founder and CEO, ewoman, Inc. Ms. Kaori Sasaki is a well-known diversity expert, best-selling author, and sought-after commentator who appears regularly in the Japanese media. Since 1996, Ms. Sasaki has produced and chaired the International Conference for Women in Business (, the largest diversity conference in Japan. Through her work as a diversity expert to companies throughout Japan, she saw the need for a system to measure and reward companies for their diversity efforts. In 2018, she inaugurated the “Diversity Index", which measures the diversity of an organization against its corporate performance and provides training.

Long known as an internet pioneer, Ms. Sasaki opened the first portal for women in Japan in 1996 and founded ewoman, Inc., a diversity consultancy that provides marketing, branding, product development, and training to major corporations, in 2000. She established UNICUL International, Inc., a communications consultancy that offers executive media training and translation and interpretation in seventy languages, in 1987. Ms. Sasaki was a reporter, traveling to over 25 countries to report on human rights and other international topics for the highest-rated nightly news program, News Station, and anchored the CBS show “60 Minutes” in Tokyo). Now, she is a regular commentator on various television news programs and in print media. Conscious of her civic duty, Ms. Sasaki has served on numerous high-level councils for the Ministries of Health, Labor and Welfare, of Education, of Economy, Trade and Industry, and of Information and Technology, including the Regulatory Reform Council of the Cabinet Office to which she was appointed by Prime Minister Abe. Ms. Sasaki served a Member of the W20 Steering Committee and on the boards of directors of major listed corporations for many years including NEC Corporation, Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd., and Nissen Holdings, and on the advisory boards of Panasonic Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, ITOCHU Corporation, DaimlerChrysler, NIFTY Corporation and other major companies.


Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is the law trust chair in social justice and a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law. She is the founder of the Thuma Foundation, an independent democracy leadership and literacy public benefit organisation and convener of the Social Justice M-Plan, a Marshall Plan-like initiative aimed at catalysing progress towards ending poverty and reducing inequality by 2030, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SGGs).

She is a monthly columnist for the Financial Mail and City Press/Rapport, and occasionally writes for other newspapers.

A multiple award-winning legal professional, with over 50 national and global awards, Thuli Madonsela has eight honorary doctor of laws degrees, one of which was awarded by the Law Society of Canada. She holds a BA Law from Uniswa, a Bachelor of Laws from Wits University and a Harvard Advanced Leadership Certificate, and has been trained in legal drafting, leadership, strategic planning, scenario planning, gender mainstreaming, mediation and arbitration, and training facilitation, among other things. 

Thuli Madonsela was the Public Protector of South Africa from 2009 to 2016. She is credited with transforming the institution by enhancing its effectiveness in promoting good governance and integrity – including ethical governance and anticorruption in state affairs – through her reports, jurisprudence on the powers of the Public Protector and introduction of ADR. She is the architect of the OR Tambo Declaration on the minimum standards for an effective ombudsman institution and cooperation with the African Union on strengthening good governance and co-founder of the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and served as AORC’s founding chairperson. As a full-time commissioner of the South African Law Commission, she supervised several investigations – among them Project 25 – on aligning all laws with the Constitution, and participated in the drafting of several laws. She chaired and later project-managed the Equality Legal Education Training Unit (ELETU), which provided foundational training for Equality Court judicial officers. She is the co-founder and one of the inaugural leaders of the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA). 

Named one of Time 100’s Most Influential People in the World in 2014, Forbes Africa Person of the Year in 2016 and one of BBC’s 100 Women, her peer recognition includes the Commonwealth Lawyers Association’s Truth and Justice Award, Transparency International’s Integrity Award, the South African Law Society’s Truth and Justice Award, General Council of the Bar membership, the Sydney and Felicia Kentridge Award, the SAWLA Women in Law Icon Award, Botswana Lawyers Association Honorary Bar membership, the German Presidential Medal, the German Africa Prize, the African Peer Review Mechanism Anticorruption Crusader Award, Tällberg Global Leader recognition, Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow recognition, the Gauteng Premier’s Provincial Achiever Award, and having a rose named after her in recognition of her social justice and integrity work. Recently, Madonsela was appointed as Knight of the Legion of Honour by French President Emmanuel Macron. Viewed as the highest decoration in France, the Knight of Legion was bestowed on Madonsela in recognition of her remarkable achievements in defence of the rule of law and the fight against corruption in South Africa.

Thuli Madonsela is one of the drafters of South Africa’s Constitution and co-architect of several laws that have sought to anchor South Africa’s democracy. Among the laws she has helped draft are the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA), the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act. She also contributed to the conceptualisation and quality assurance of laws such as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Repeal of the Black Administration Act. Her policy contributions have focused on the transformation of the judicial system, the promotion of equality – particularly gender equality – and the Victims Charter. She has also participated in the drafting of several international instruments, mainly on human rights, gender, race, disability, development and gender-based violence, in addition to participating in the preparation of country reports and representing the country.

Her extensive publishing record includes books/learning resources, book chapters/forewords, journal articles, newspaper articles and papers. She is a sought-after speaker and has presented several memorial lectures, including international memorial lectures for Kofi Annan, John Wendell Holmes and Oliver Tambo, and the Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture.


Dr Futhi Mtoba Founder, TEACH South Africa and Chair of the Council at the University of Pretoria A former chair and partner of the board of Deloitte Southern Africa, Futhi Mtoba holds CA (SA) and DCom (honoris causa) qualifications. She is a 2017 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, and currently serves as Chair of Council at the University of Pretoria, as Chair of the WDB Trust, and as Non-Executive Director of South32 Limited, Discovery Holdings and Discovery Bank.


Futhi is the past president – and first woman president – of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa, a body dedicated to nurturing emerging black accountants. She is also the past president of Business Unity South Africa – the first and currently only woman to hold the role.

She is the founder of TEACH South Africa, and her previous leadership positions include positions on the board of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and the United Nations Global Compact, and a member of the International Monetary Fund Advisory Group of Sub-Saharan Africa the World Economic Forum Global Advisory Council, and the B20 Financing Growth & Infrastructure Task Force, B20 Transparency Task Team. She is currently a member of the 2018 B20 Argentina Financing Growth & Infrastructure Task Force.


Professor Machiko Osawa,  She holds a Ph.D in economics from Southern Illinois University. Currently, she is Professor emeritus and specially appointed to the researcher, the Research Institute for Women and Careers at Japan Women's University. She served on Advisory Boards of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor, Prime Minister's Gender Equality Bureau, and Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. 


She is also the author of various books such as Economic Change and Women Workers: Japan U.S. Comparison (1993, Nihon-Keizai Hyoronsha, Received Kagami Book Award), Economics of New Family (Chuo Koron Shinsya, 1998), Non-Standard Work in Developed Economies (ed. with Susan Houseman, Upjohn Institute, 2003), Towards Work-Life Balance Society(Iwanami, 2006), and Work-Life Synergy (Iwanami, 2008), Japan's Working Poor (Iwanami,2010), When Housewives Return to the Labor Market-Towards Second Chance Society (NTT Shuppan, 2012) What's Holding Back Japanese Women, (Tokyo Keizai Shinposya, 2015) Women and Work in the 21stcentury, (Sayusya, 2018) Why There are so Few Women Managers in the Japanese Workplace, (Seikyusya, 2019).




  • Lidia du Plessis
    Coordinator: Staff Mobility Programmes & Partner Projects, Centre for Partnerships and Internationalisation​
  • Prof Scarlett Cornelissen
    Professor: Department of Political Science ​