Sayaka Osakabe has ignited a national debate over how to reform the Japanese workplace to accommodate women and families. Like many Japanese women, she was harassed and pressured to resign from her job after becoming pregnant. After suffering two stress-related miscarriages, she pursued legal recourse for maternity harassment “Matahara” in her own case, and founded Matahara Net to help other women.
One of those women won the landmark Japan Supreme Court Supreme Court case in October 2014 ruling against pregnancy discrimination. Ms. Osakabe’s courage to speak out has spurred government and civil society action, including the Government of Japan official notice on January 23, 2015 that dismissals and demotions of pregnant women are presumed illegal.
Ms. Osakabe made “Matahara” a 2014 buzzword in Japan, supporting women’s full participation in the workplace to grow Japan’s economy.