+

On Aug. 1, 2016, Tokyo made history by electing Yuriko Koike, its first female governor.

Koike is a groundbreaking political veteran with cabinet experience who ran for a head of state position in 2008. Sound familiar?


Tokyo is with her. Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images.

Not only was this a big win for her (she defeated her closest opponent by over a million votes), but it's also a huge win for Tokyo, a city that doesn't have the greatest track record on women's rights.

"Hillary used the word 'glass ceiling,'" Koike said in 2008. "But in Japan, it isn't glass, it's an iron plate."

This isn't Koike's first tussle with that iron plate. She served previously as Tokyo's first female defense chief and launched a campaign in 2008 to become Japan's first woman prime minister.

When it comes to politics, the first thing on Koike's to-do list is making Tokyo better for women.

She wants to overcome the massive childcare shortages plaguing the city, and enact policies that ensure "both women and men can shine in Tokyo."

Koike drinking tea with former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images.

She's also made a point of praising other female world leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, and most recently, Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's newly-elected female president.

Koike is a vocal critic of North Korea and a green candidate with a focus on the environment. She served as Japan's environment minister from 2003 to 2005, where she took creative approaches to energy conservation, such as a widely adopted program encouraging male businessmen not to wear suit jackets to work (so that office air conditioners could be comfortably turned down.)

She also cosplayed once as Sally the Witch, which is just kind of awesome:

Among her biggest responsibilities as governor will be helping to shape up Tokyo's 2020 Olympic hosting duties, which are currently wrapped in multiple corruption scandals.

Like any politician, she's not without a few controversial opinions.

Most notably, she was endorsed by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, an organization that seeks to revise history textbooks by downplaying Japan's involvement in war crimes and human trafficking during WWII.

In an op-ed voicing her support for textbook reform, she claimed that shifting national focus away from the antagonisms of the past would help avoid the wars of the future. It's a nice sentiment, but there's just something about George Santayana's quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," that rings just a bit truer.

Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images.

When she takes office, Koike will be one of only three women serving in a gubernatorial position in Japan.

Currently, only about 12% of parliament seats in Japan are held by women. And according to the Global Gender Gap Report, the country is ranked 101 out of 145 in terms of gender equality.

That's why her victory is so important. Change doesn't happen instantly, it happens one step at a time, one election at a time, one vote at a time. When women are in politics and are elected to prominent positions of power, the world sees the benefits.

Koike with Yukari Sato and Kuniko Inoguchi, two other female lawmakers in Tokyo. Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images.

Science agrees. When women are elected, gender gaps close, productivity increases, and most importantly, the world gets female role models — which leads to more women in politics and positions of power.

Now, millions of women and men in Tokyo, are living in a city that has one more female leader. She may not be perfect, and she may not solve all of Tokyo's problems, but no candidate is or could. What's important is that she's the first, and she won't be the last. Not to mention, the neat thing about barriers is they never become unbroken.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less

Golden retriever has cutest reaction to sister walking.

Here at Upworthy we look for stories that will make you smile and warm your heart and, let’s face it, we could all use a little help in the smile department these days. When we ran across this ridiculously sweet story on The Dodo about a golden retriever and his little human sister, we simply had to share it with you. Taco is a 3-year-old golden retriever who has been lovingly waiting for his new baby sister, Vanora, to be able to play with him, and the day has finally come.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less