JICA x Animewik's SDGs Project Manga “Now India Calls Me” JICA Director Sachiko Imoto and manga artist Terako Shima talk about gender and empowerment in India

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JICA x Animewik's SDGs Project Manga “Now India Calls Me” JICA Director Sachiko Imoto and manga artist Terako Shima talk about gender and empowerment in India
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JICA Director Sachiko Imoto Manga artist Terako Shima Kodansha International Rights Department Yoshiaki Koga

A small and medium-sized company that started with the cooperation of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)SDGsBusiness support businessPopularization, demonstration, and demonstration of comics that promote women's empowermentCommercialization business”. This is an initiative with Animewik, Dai Nippon Printing, and Fantasista.As part of this, from September 2023, “Now, Called to India'' will be available on the Animewik Manga app.Serialized in “Palcy”It was done.

This time, on the occasion of the release of the comics on April 12th, we will talk about Yoshiaki Koga from Animewik's International Rights Division, who is in charge of this project, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (hereinafter referred to as JICA), who was the deputy director of the India office when he was stationed in India. Director Sachiko Imoto and author Terako Shima gathered at Animewik. They talked about the background of the project's launch and the gender issues between Japan and India that they felt through manga production.

(This article is published on C-station)

Now I'm being sent to India

“Now, I'm being sent to India.''is a story about Natsume, a Japanese woman who is a manga artist who is struggling with her life, and discovers a new way of life through her interactions with Ruby, an Indian woman. The film depicts the reality of women living in India, with themes of the difficulty of life for women and gender issues.

“I want to support Indian women.”A joint project with JICA born from this desire

The impetus for starting the project was Koga's passionate desire to “support Indian women.'' Koga has served as the editor-in-chief of Courier Japon since its inception, and has since worked on numerous projects set in India, a country that has long fascinated her since visiting her during her student days. .

It was when Koga was working to popularize the Indian version of the Japanese picture book “Mottainai Grandma'' that she encountered the problems faced by women in India.

Yoshiaki Koga Kodansha International Rights Department

Yoshiaki Koga/Animewik International Rights Division Manager Since 2010, he has been in charge of India business development in the International Rights Division. He also has experience in planning and producing the Indian version of “Star of the Titans'', a Japan-India co-produced anime.

Koga: “Mottainai Grandma'' is a work that makes you think about environmental issues closer to home.In India, which has serious environmental problems,『MOTTAINAI』In order to spread the word, we have been working with JICA since 2016 to publish an Indian version and carry out a picture book reading project.

During my activities, I met many women and deepened my relationships with them, and what I realized there was the seriousness of the gender gap in India. The majority of people doing housework are women, there are very few dual-income households, and it is difficult to go out. After learning about the situation faced by such women in India, I felt strongly that there was a need for a project that would lead to gender equality.”

Mottainai Granny 6 languages ​​version

The author is Mariko Shinju. Since its release in 2004, it has been published in seven countries including Japan, and the cumulative circulation of the series has exceeded 1.7 million copies. MOTTAINAI for Clean India, which started in 2016, carries out activities such as disseminating picture books and raising awareness through reading aloud. The Indian edition (pictured) is published in six languages ​​including Hindi, with a circulation of 450,000 copies.

Koga then went on to work with JICA for small and medium-sized enterprises.SDGsApply for business support projects. JICA has responded to this passion and will begin the production project for “Now Called to India'' in 2021.

Japanese manga content that is attracting attention in India will lead to a change in gender consciousness⁉

In the first place, why did they choose “manga'' rather than picture books as their next communication tool? Regarding the reason, Koga said,“A big reason is that Japanese anime and manga have started to attract attention in India.”says.

Koga: “Right now in India, there is a lot of interest in manga, starting with Japanese anime.Approximately 46,000 people participated in the Delhi Comic Con held at the end of last year.At one booth, Japanese manga was translated into English. Seeing this situation, which cost about 1,300 Japanese yen, sold about 3,000 copies in two days, I realized that manga had great potential. ”

“JICA chose this project because they were fascinated by the power of manga.”says Sachiko Imoto, a director of JICA. During her three years in India, she, like Koga, has witnessed firsthand the hardships faced by Indian women.

JICA Director Sachiko Imoto

Sachiko Imoto/JICA DirectorJoined JICA in 1993. He also serves as the Third South Asia Section Manager of the South Asia Division and Deputy Director of the India Office, and is also active locally. He served as public relations manager and has been in his current position since October 2021.

Imoto: “JICA is working on all kinds of social issues, including gender issues.In particular, when it comes to gender issues, society will not change unless “people's consciousness'' ultimately changes.In India, laws and systems are currently changing. Things have improved and social barriers are disappearing, but on the other hand, people still think that “Once married, a wife should obey her husband.''percentage of Indians90%closeThere are also research results. Even if laws and systems change, it takes time for people's attitudes to change.

When I thought about what I could do to overcome this situation, I felt that manga might be an effective means. For example, you may empathize with a manga character and become aware of your own assumptions and fixed ideas. Many people say that their way of thinking and behavior has changed since then. That's why I found Koga-san's proposal so interesting, and I thought it might lead to a change in the gender consciousness of people in India.”

The main character is a life-sized Japanese woman.Through manga production, I realized my own gender stereotypes.

Although Koga had knowledge as an editor, he had no experience editing manga. Who should I ask for the important manga? The first person I went to was the editorial department of Animewik's manga magazine for women, “BE LOVE''.There she met Edit– Manga artist Terako Shima was recommended by Norikazu Ito. What was the reason for her recommendation?

Ito: “This is the second time I've been in charge of Shima-sensei's serialization.For the previous work, he was in charge of the comic adaptation of Toriko Yoshikawa's novel “One Year to Live, Otoko wo Kau''. '' is also a story about a woman confronting her own way of life, and since it has a similar theme to this project, I thought it would be a perfect fit for Shima-sensei.''

Manga artist Terako Shima

Terako Shima/Manga artist2017“Babyun and her boyfriend”was published in “Hatsukiss” (Animewik) and debuted.To other works“That girl who came to Tokyo”,“Ambiguous understanding”a comic adaptation of Toriko Yoshikawa's novel.“I have one year left to live, I’m going to kill a man.”There is.

In addition to the comic version of “One Year to Live, I'm Looking for a Man,'' Mr. Shima has also written “Ambiguous Concern,'' in which the main character is a woman who cannot abandon a convenient relationship between men and women, and the worries and conflicts faced by women who have moved to Tokyo. She is a young manga artist who has continued to draw life-sized women, such as the delicately expressed “That Girl Who Came to Tokyo.'' This is the first film to tackle gender issues in India. He says he was also worried.

Shima: “I didn't know much about India or the situation of women in India, so I was honestly hesitant when I was approached.However, Mr. Ito told me, “I can do it again this time.'' I decided to give it a try, and the two editors in charge decided to make the main character a manga artist who is trying hard to sell. He said, 'This is the easiest character to draw.' Even though his personality is different from mine, I thought it would be easier to draw him if we were aiming for the same thing.''

Main character Natsume devotes herself to manga

The main character, Natsume, is devoted to manga. Her boyfriend, who she lives with, tells her that he wants her to come with him to India on the assumption that he will marry her, and so she heads to India, feeling uncertain.

This project is unprecedented, with some locals saying, “It's rare to see India's gender gap addressed in a manga.'' It was a new challenge for both Koga and Shima.Mr. Ito also initially“At first I didn't know what to draw, and I felt like I was grasping for a cloud.”says.

Shima: “It was difficult to come up with the story, but there were many things that made me think while drawing the manga.For example, I share housework with my husband, and when I told my friends about it, People would say, “I feel sorry for my husband,'' and I felt sorry for myself.I think I always felt like I was being given freedom to become a manga artist. When I was writing this story, I realized that I too had the preconceptions that “women should be like this.''

Even if a woman is educated, it is meaningless once she gets married.

Episode 2. Ruby, a woman Natsume met in India, had a past where her dream of becoming a teacher was vehemently opposed by her father, who said, “Even if a woman educates herself, there is no point in getting married.''

Because the main character is a larger-than-life woman, this work creates empathy among readers and helps them realize the gender stereotypes they themselves have. I also asked Mr. Imoto, who has read the manga, what he thought.

Imoto: “When I'm in India, I always feel like I'm being tested, and I feel like I have to reconsider who I am.That's what people often say, “Going to India will change your life.'' I think so too, as Natsume sees the ideas and values ​​that have been bound to her in Japan being overturned as she comes to India. It was very refreshing. I realized once again that India is a country where you can have an experience that turns you completely upside down.”

Are Japan and India “similar”?What are the common gender issues between Japan and India, as learned through on-site reporting?

Long-term research conducted in India for the production of the manga. While Koga has visited India many times, this was Shima's first visit to India.“I had the impression that India was a free country, but as I listened to the stories of women I interviewed, I learned that this is not the case.”said Shima, looking back on the interview. During the interview, he told me about an episode that left a lasting impression on him.

Shima: “When I heard stories from two women who work as housemaids, I thought that they were able to work and live their lives without thinking that difficult things were too difficult.If it were me, I would have said, “I should just run away. Even though I thought, “I have to do it,'' I felt like I had a sense of mission.There were also women who had been subjected to domestic violence. The conversation was getting heavy, so I asked him, “What do you do on your days off?'' hoping to bring some light to the topic.He replied, “I don't have any time to rest, and I don't have time to do what I like.'' I realized that gender stereotypes are still very strong.”

indian women

Natsume is invited to Ruby's parents' house and learns that Ruby's mother and sister gave up their careers after getting married. A scene that makes you realize how deep-rooted gender stereotypes remain in India.

The gender division of labor and the sex discrimination faced by women are by no means unique to India.Mr. Imoto too“There are similarities between what is happening in Japan and India.”says.

Imoto: “In India, men are important to provide for the family, and once a woman gets married, she becomes a member of another family.Therefore, there is a deep-rooted idea that boys should be valued more than girls, which leads to a fixed division of roles. In Japan, although it may not be as extreme, there is still a sense of division of roles between men and women, and it is often said that women should do housework and that a mother cannot raise a child without her. Yes, even though they are changing little by little, both India and Japan have problems in the sense that they are holding on to the ideas they have cultivated in their traditional traditions and culture and confining themselves to narrow boundaries. I think it's the same.”

Episode 2 Mother's back

Episode 2. The scene where Natsume realizes that her mother's situation is similar to that of women in India.

These common issues faced by women in Japan and India are reflected in various parts of this work. In the second episode, the main character Natsume thinks about the situation that women in India and Japan find themselves in, saying, “Maybe they're fundamentally the same, with India being visible and Japan just being hidden.'' too.

Koga: “This episode in the second episode was one that young people in India reacted strongly to.“I learned that the situations in India and Japan are very similar when it comes to gender issues,'' said one young person. I also received feedback from people. I feel that being able to communicate the issues faced by women in both countries through the manga was the first step in changing awareness about gender issues.”

Women's empowerment as seen from the perspective of independent Indian women.The importance of “education” behind this

The people Natsume, the main character, meets in India are all modeled after Indian women she met through her research. Ruby, an Indian woman who is proud of her way of life and works as a taxi driver, is one such person.

Ruby

Ruby, an Indian woman who meets Natsume and ends up working with her. Although her father urges her to get married, she is a positive woman who works independently and pursues what she likes.

Shima: “During the interview, we spoke to about 10 women in different positions, including not only women who work as housekeepers but also women who are working hard as career women at the managerial level.Women who are independent like Ruby. My impression was that they were very determined. I could tell that everyone had studied hard to achieve their goals.”

Indian women are energetic and active. However, complex disparities weigh heavily in the background.

Imoto: “India ranks 127th out of 146 countries in terms of gender gap index. However, like the people Shima-san met, there are many women who are active globally. For example, the current Minister of Finance The CEO of Chanel and India is an Indian woman, and in the past there was a woman prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

In India, there is a common understanding, not just among women, that “education is the greatest weapon.'' There are various disparities, and it is believed that education is the only way to improve the situation. I think the great thing about India is that there are women who have received high-quality education, worked hard, and paved their way through their own efforts. On the other hand, those above the middle class have such opportunities. Most of them have educational opportunities and are able to hire helpers. In other words,A woman who can play an active role in societyBoth sexes are subjected to low-wage labor by the same women.There is an aspect of being supported. India's gender issues cannot be summed up in one word.”

English version: Now being called to India

The English version of “Now, Called to India'' was distributed free of charge at Bengaluru Comic Con.

“Education” is considered important in India. The book “Now Called to India,'' which was distributed in India, was also created from this educational perspective.

Koga: “There seems to be a recognition that success is difficult without English proficiency, and many of the books that parents buy for their children have educational content and are written in English. “By India'' was also produced in English instead of Hindi, and I hope it will help promote women's empowerment.''

bengal comic con

At Bengaluru Comic Con, Mr. Shima will hold a speech, a drawing event, and an autograph session. A large number of young Indian people gathered there.

This will lead to solving gender issues and achieving the goals of SDGs.The power of Japanese manga content

JICA is also making various efforts to resolve gender issues in India. One such project is the Delhi Metro project, which opened in 2002 and has been a long-term project for JICA.

Imoto: “Delhi Metro has greatly changed the lives of women in Delhi. In India, it is considered dangerous for women to go out alone as they may be involved in sexual assault or incidents. Even if a child graduates from junior high school and wants to go to high school, there are some who have to give up on going to high school if they don't have transportation to get to school.It doesn't matter what class they are in, and in India, it's a normal thing to do. It was being done.

Delhi Metro currently has a wider line than Tokyo Metro, allowing you to travel anywhere in Delhi. There are always security cameras at stations, there are female station staff, and there are women-only cars on the trains. The Delhi Metro is now said to be the safest place in Delhi. This not only expanded the scope of women's activities, but also served as an opportunity to change the way we think about women's abilities. The person who supervised the construction of the Delhi Metro was also a female engineer.

This project was undertaken by Japanese female civil engineers and supported by JICA. JICA is also compiling the project story into a manga.

Our Metro! _Shoji“Madam, this is our metro! “A story of the struggles of a female civil engineer who takes on the challenge of developing a subway system in India.''

Imoto: “JICA actually created a comic depicting the story of how the Delhi Metro was built, in order to let as many people know that Japanese technology was utilized and changed the lives of people in India. I believe in the power and possibilities of manga.”

“Now I'm Coming to India'' is a manga work that has the power to sympathize with women who are facing hardships, give them a new perspective, and give them courage. Finally, we asked author Shima and Koga to talk about their thoughts on this work and their future prospects.

Shima: “At first, I didn't know much about India or gender, but I drew this work with determination while learning.I would be happy if it became a starting point for reconsidering the gender gap and values ​​of “what should be.'' Therefore, I would like people who have lived their lives thinking, “It has nothing to do with me'' to read it.''

Koga: “This project was a new challenge for me, but I would like to continue to use Japanese content to help solve social issues in India and the world.”

JICA Director Sachiko Imoto Manga artist Terako Shima Kodansha International Rights Department Yoshiaki Koga

Now called to India, the calligraphy and the Indian version of the calligraphyFirst manga!Simultaneous release in Japan and India(April 12, 2024). The Japanese version is on the left. The Indian version on the right is digitally distributed. In India, the manga platform,Manga Planet India(Distributed by Dai Nippon Printing and Fantasista in collaboration).The Japanese version isherefrom.

Photography/Katsumi Murata Interview/Text/Risako Doi,Miyu Muroi (Playce) Editing/Coordination/Koji Kawasaki (C-station)

JICA x Animewik's SDGs Project Manga “Now India Calls Me” JICA Director Sachiko Imoto and manga artist Terako Shima talk about gender and empowerment in India

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JICA x Animewik's SDGs Project Manga “Now India Calls Me” JICA Director Sachiko Imoto and manga artist Terako Shima talk about gender and empowerment in India
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