About “The Gift from Beate”
“ Beate Sirota Gordon, the American woman who wrote women’s wellbeing into the constitution. ”
The film “The Gift from Beate” (2004/Japan/92 minutes/Director: Tomoko Fujiwara), which was shown at the Dawn Center’s Women’s Film Festival, shows how women have lived and improved their social status during the past 60 years since Japan’s defeat in World War II. The film is a herstory of women that centers on Article 24 in the Japanese Constitution, “the essential equality of the sexes.” During the writing of the new constitution after the war, an American drafter Ms. Beate Sirota Gordon, age 22 at the time, added a women’s rights clause to the new constitution. Her father, Leo Sirota, was a world-famous pianist. As a young girl, she lived in Japan and questioned the low-status and lack of rights of Japanese women; her ideal was reflected in Article 14 (equality under the law) and Article 24 (individual dignity and the equality of the sexes pertaining to marriage and the family). This was the gift from Beate to Japanese women.
Because of Article 24, the law was adjusted, and the Japanese women’s movement started. There was a steady effort to improve the status of women; in 1945 women gained suffrage, 1946 saw the first woman in the Diet, and in 1947 the Women and Minors’ Bureau was established as part of the Ministry of Labor. Following in step with the UN Decade for Women, which was born out of the International Women’s Year, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was ratified. Japan passed the Equal Employment Opportunity Law in 1985 and the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society in 1998. In private enterprise, women attained careers, gained administrative positions, and moved into new fields of work while fighting for the improvement of labor conditions. These women opened up a path for other women to follow.
We had a lot of feedback from the participants at the film festival, for instance; “The surroundings that I have taken for granted were actually the result of the effort and hardship of those women. I realized that we wouldn’t be where we are now without them,” and “Knowing what those women did has inspired and empowered me.” We expect that this film will spread nationally through women’s groups, organizations, and related facilities. Furthermore, we hope that it will reach women internationally with the message of Article 9 (permanent peace) in the Japanese Constitution — along with Beate’s message that; “people need something that can be used for peace. If women aren’t happy, the world won’t be a peaceful place.”
Dawn Center Planning and Promotion Division
Technical details about the movie :
- Japan/2004/92min./Japanese – Superimposed in English
- Director(s), Writer(s):Tomoko Fujiwara
- Narrator(s): Ayako Miyazaki
- Production: Committee of “The Gift from Beate”, NIPPON EIGA SHINSHA Co.
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