Global Roundup: First Female President of Japan’s Labour Union, Anti-Machista Hotline in Colombia, Pastel Palace Tattoo and Piercing Studio, Latinx Mental Health Centre, Trans Clinic in Massachusetts

Compiled by Inaara Merani

Source: AP News

Tomoko Yoshino has been appointed the first female president of Japan’s powerful labour union federation with an agenda focusing on correcting the gender gap in wages, as well as working conditions for women. 

Progress is extremely slow. I will tackle all activities at Rengo from the perspective of gender equality and diversity. - Tomoko Yoshino

Japan currently sits in 120th place out of 156 nations in this year’s gender gap ranking by the World Economic Forum. The country lacks principles of gender equality and has failed to implement measures to support women and marginalized populations. 

Yoshino, the first woman to hold this position since its foundation in 1989. is also unique because she worked at a medium-size sewing machine maker after graduating from high school and belonged to a union composed mainly of small and medium-sized companies — unlike her male predecessors who worked at major corporations or labor unions.

Yoshino, 55, said she initially wondered if her background qualified her for the top job.

(But) I thought of many talented women who had to leave their jobs without being allowed to rise in the ranks. I thought I should continue their efforts and their will, and decided I should not miss this opportunity to break through Japan’s glass ceiling. - Tomoko Yoshino-

Some of Yoshino’s upcoming duties include the annual negotiations with companies over salary increases and better working conditions, as well as an economic forum launched by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who has advocated for more income distribution and economic growth. 

Despite gender equality laws, women receive lower wages than men, and their presence is limited in decision-making positions at work, school and elsewhere.

In Japan, after taking parental leave, there are labour practices in place which prevent women from returning to their full-time positions. Thus, many women in the nation work in part-time or temporary jobs. Men rarely take parental leave, and often leave the burden of childcare on women. Yoshino wants to alter this perspective on domestic life, by increasing the amount of childcare support offered by men and encouraging an equal share of responsibilities, and also wants to review the current salary framework to ensure women are receiving equal compensation. 

A society that provides a pleasant working environment for women will be pleasant for everyone. Empowering women can revitalize the economy, but the priority is to tackle the gender issue from the perspective of women’s rights. - Tomoko Yoshino

Source: BELatina 

A hotline in Bogotá, Colombia is challenging the traditional phenomenon that is helplines for survivors of domestic violence by not only seeking to prevent violence but also addressing its root cause in the nation: machismo. It is the first time that a platform in Latin America seeks to put the responsibility in the hands of the aggressor and not the victim, trying to dismantle the ingrained belief that men “must be dominant.”

When men call the hotline, an expert in psychology from the Bogotá Mayor’s Office answers and attends to the anguish of some men in the area. The line was initiated by the government of Claudia Lopez, Bogotá’s first woman and openly gay mayor, who has made the fight against machismo part of her government plan.

Since its creation 10 months ago, around 2000 men have called the line. Each individual is entitled to 10 free, personalized sessions in which their macho emotions, thoughts, and attitudes are evaluated. The anti-machista hotline aims to push men to analyze how machismo harms their lives, and the lives of those around them, with the goal of being part of the cultural shift taking place.

I believed, and other people also believed, that we were not getting male perpetrators of violence to call us for help. And something is happening, all of a sudden those male role models are no longer passing, no longer matching the relationships they’re having. - Daniel Galeano, one of the psychologists

In Colombia, a woman is sexually assaulted every 34 minutes. In recognition of this, university students have begun to host workshops on ‘micromachismos’, which are small sexist or macho gestures that often go unnoticed. Similarly in other nations such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil, therapy and courses focusing on healthy masculinity are offered. Additionally, men’s collectives around the region meet regularly to discuss their role in the patriarchy and how their actions influence the lives of others. 

Imagine a headline of this society in 20 years: ‘Machismo has been eradicated from the national geography.'“ - Nicolas Montero, head of Bogotá’s culture office, which introduced Linea Calma

Women in Latin America, and around the world, are tired of assuming the role of victim and survivor. The culture around machismo is shifting and it is mechanisms such as the anti-machista hotline which are contributing to this shift. 

At the beginning of October, Pastel Tattoo and Piercing Studio opened in Colchester, Essex. The parlor is women and LGBTQ+ owned, and fosters an environment of inclusivity, understanding, and pure joy. 

Every artist working at the studio is queer and autistic, and truly understands how scary tattoo studios can be, especially for queer and neurodiverse individuals. The studio is filled with stim and fidget toys for individuals that need them, as well as TVs and headphones where individuals can watch their favourite TV shows and movies, as well as listen to their favourite music during their appointments. 

Individuals are asked to fill out a pre--appointment form which ask questions about pronouns, preferred names, if disability access is required, any special requests (such as stim and fidget toys or noise-cancelling headphones), as well as preferred music, TV shows, and movies to watch during the appointment. The purpose of this form is for the team at Pastel Tattoo and Piercing Studio to understand every individual’s unique needs, so that they can cater the experience to the client. 

Whereas most tattoo parlours are dark spaces with loud music playing, this studio is filled with bright colours and features the work of local artists. Additionally, rather than having your appointment in one large open space, every appointment takes place in private and secure studio rooms. The team at Pastel Tattoo and Piercing Studio wants every client to feel welcome and safe, holding values of inclusion, diversity, and understanding close. 

As a group of queer, neurodiverse individuals, we feel that it is very important for us to provide an environment that caters to everyone's needs. We feel that there is a huge gap in the tattoo industry for inclusiveness, that we at Pastel Palace have decided to fill. - The Pastel Tattoo and Piercing Studio Team 


Source: BELatina 

In the Latinx community, mental health is a very stigmatized topic, which often prevents individuals from seeking help or treatment despite the fact that they suffer from mental health issues. In addition, many Latinx people are not adequately educated on mental health and thus continue to suffer from varying mental health issues.  

For many members of the Latinx community, having words to describe your feelings was never taught in childhood, and therefore responses are taught to come out of avoidance of the issue or through the lens of anger. - Amanda Serrano, MSW LCSW, Bilingual and Bicultural psychotherapist and Founder of Sunrise-Amanecer Inc. 

In an attempt to combat the stigma and lack of awareness about mental health in the Latinx community, Sunrise-Amanecer is a mental health facility in Greensboro, North Carolina which fosters cultural competence and humility and focuses primarily on work with the Latinx community and other vulnerable populations. The centre is community-based and offers therapy to the Latinx community, as well as other specialized programs. Among these programs is the Survivors Fund, which provides 10 free bilingual therapy sessions for victims of violence, specifically prioritizing victims of sexual and domestic violence.

With a mission of supporting Black and Brown communities to overcome barriers that prevent them from achieving mental wellness, as well as addressing stigmas, Sunrise-Amanecer is paving the way for mental wellness in the Latinx community. The team is hopeful that by supporting marginalized and vulnerable individuals in their mental health journeys, there will be a shift in the mental health mindset within the Latinx community, from shame to healing. 

Many Latinx people are taught that they must be strong and self-sufficient. They may have never seen their mother or father cry or break down; because of that, many people see themselves as weak when they admit that they cannot manage everything alone and need support. Another reason is that members of black and brown communities rarely see themselves represented by the therapists trying to serve them, there are not enough black and brown therapists that can hold the mirror up, and that understand their experience because there are cultural differences that are hard to bridge and perspectives other therapists are blind to due to the way they experience life. - Amanda Serrano 


The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, has found that only 40% of trans people were out to all of their healthcare providers. For many trans individuals, finding a healthcare provider that provides comprehensive trans care has been difficult, with many individuals reporting being misgendered and their unique needs mistreated. A recent startup in Northampton, Massachusetts is seeking to change that standard. 

TransHealth Northampton is a clinic by trans people, for trans people. The staff is comprised of almost all transgender, nonbinary, and queer clinicians. Transhealth is the first rural transgender clinic in the US, and is also one of the first healthcare organizations which is led entirely by trans people and exclusively focuses on trans care. 

Transhealth opened in May, and has already seen over 330 patients from around New England. The clinic is focused on reaching populations in remote regions of New England, as trans care is not offered in these areas. Transhealth was founded by Perry Cohen, also the founder of the queer wilderness organization Venture Out, who saw the trends in the medical care for trans people and sought to change the ongoing practices. 

Around half of the states in the US have LGBTQ+ affirming health centres, however most do not specialize in LBGTQ+ health, and trans care in particular. Also in recognition of the long wait times to see trans-affirming healthcare practitioners, Transhealth is committed to seeing its patients within a week. 

Similar to abortion clinics, Transhealth does not post its address online and asks clients not to take pictures in front of the building which reveal its location. Despite it being a medical space, the space embodies inclusivity and comfort - one of the main goals of the clinic. Rather than the traditional medical chairs, oversized medical chairs are present throughout the office which are designed to fit any type of individual. 

The team hopes to see more Transhealth clinics around the US; however, this comes at a difficult time as over 30 states have pushed anti-trans bills this year alone. Despite the backlash and scrutiny, Transhealth is revolutionizing trans care in the nation and is enacting change every single day. 

Who am I in this world that feels increasingly automated and feels like my privacy is always taken for granted? To me it seems like there’s some beauty in being able to bring back the humanistic side of things, to bring back some desire for interpersonal connection, community, and just knowing that you can actually be cared for. - Ducar, psychiatric nurse practitioner 


Inaara Merani (she/her) is a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa where she studied  International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is an Ismaili Muslim Canadian who is deeply passionate about human rights, social justice and feminism, and in turn, dismantling the patriarchy and ensuring that all women have safe and equal access to all their rights. She hopes to pursue a career in law so that she can continue to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups everywhere. She also enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her beautiful cat. 

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