Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde from the IJCC

St Brigid's Day is a feast day dedicated to St Brigid, the patron saint of Ireland. The day has traditionally been marked with a variety of customs and traditions, the most well-known being the weaving of St. Brigid's crosses from rushes.

This year the Irish government created a new national holiday in honour of what St. Brigid symbolizes; our Irish culture, our Irish heritage and not least, our Irish women.

Speaking on 1-Feb, Minister Martin said:

“I look forward greatly to the inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday, also known as Imbolc, which heralds the beginning of spring, a time of growth and renewal. This presents a unique opportunity to reflect upon the vital role that Irish women have played in building, sustaining and inspiring our nation.”

Here in Japan, our ambassador, HE Damien Cole, marked the day by hosting MP Seiko Noda, Asako Osaki, and Kazuko Fukuda at the Ambassador’s Residence. These three Japanese women are actively progressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in Japan. Change takes time, but due to women such as these, change is happening. As an example, last year, a law making it compulsory for all companies with over 300 employees to publicly disclose their “gender gap pay” was passed; this information will be required to be reported by June of this year.

Ambassador Cole’s other honoured guests, HE Tabu Irina, Ambassador of Kenya, and HE Marieta Arabadjieva, Ambassador of Bulgaria also spoke about initiatives to close the gender gap in their home countries. Kenya’s 2010 new constitution requires that there are 30% of women in every appointment. In Bulgaria, maternity leave is considered at-work-time to avoid gaps in women’s resumes when seeking new employment.

The IJCC is also looking at more diversity within the organization and its members.  This year, we plan to be intentional about, reaching out to not just more women but a more diverse demographic in general, and making changes towards projecting a more inclusive and diverse image. Board member, Brietta O’Leary, will focus on Women in Business with a view to the broader theme of DEI within the IJCC.

Last but not least, let us not ignore the other word, Imbolc, used by Minister Martin.  Imbolc is the celebration of the beginning of spring and the end of winter. Very similar to Japan’s Setsubun celebrated on 3-Feb. When it comes down to it, no matter who we are, or where we hail from, we celebrate the end of winter and the hope of new beginnings as we enter the spring.

Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde daoibh go léir!