March 5, 2015

Courtney Brooks
Executive Director, Global Ties KC
Office: (816) 421-4231 Cell: (816) 908-2354

Kansas City — On Monday, March 9th, Global Ties KC will be hosting a roundtable discussion with Sayaka Osakabe, recipient of the Secretary of State’s 2015 International Women of Courage Award, and a select group of leaders from the business, non-profit, and government sectors to discuss the role of women in the workplace.

The Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. Through this annual award, the United States honors the endeavors of extraordinary women worldwide who have played transformative roles in their societies. This week, she is in Washington, DC for the March 5th award ceremony with Secretary Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ms. Osakabe is the Founder and Representative of Matahara Net, a forum and resource for women who have experienced maternity or pregnancy related discrimination in Japan. Through her work, Ms. Osakabe ignited a national debate over how to reform the Japanese workplace to accommodate pregnant women and their families. Her courage to speak out has spurred government action and civil society reform, prompting the Government of Japan to issue an official notice on January 23, 2015 that, going forward, dismissals and demotions of pregnant women would be presumed illegal.


As a part of her programming in KC, Ms. Osakabe will be taking part in a roundtable discussion Monday, March 9th from 4:00-6:00pm at H&R Block.  This intensive discussion will feature local women leaders including:

Rania H. Anderson, Founder of The Way Women Work (Moderator)
Cici Rojas, President/CEO of Central Exchange
Peggy Dunn, Mayor of Leawood
Aileen Wilkins, Chief People Officer at H&R Block
Rene Street, Executive Director of American Business Women’s Association
Bridget McCandless, President/CEO of Healthcare Foundation of Greater KC
Julie Donelon, President of MOCSA


Media are invited to attend the discussion. Ms. Osakabe will be available for interviews from 3:50-4:05 pm, after which time any media can stay for all or parts of the discussion.