by MCSR Jasmine Ikusebiala
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 19, 2019)-- Military and civilian women and men sat down in the Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Community Education Center to share stories about their perspective on issues involving women empowerment, physical and mental health, and goal setting. The symposium was created to inform and educate about the issues, concerns, or challenges that are relevant to women in Sasebo.
The 2019 Sasebo Women’s Waterfront Symposium consisted of a panel of guest speakers, panel forums, and presentations, and served as a space for conversation regardless of rate or rank.
According to event organizer Cmdr. Greta Densham, the commanding officer of Naval Beach Unit 7, the keynote speaker of the event is typically a flag officer, but U.S. Consulate Fukuoka Public Affairs Officer, Yuki Kondo-Shah, was chosen to give the attendees a personal account of her experience working in the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.
“We wanted to find a successful female leader who could speak to the theme of the symposium,” said Densham.
Kondo-Shah spoke about recognizing limitations and the experiences that she went through to create balance in her life. She also gave recommendations on how to balance various hardships that professional women tend to face in their relationships.
“You are always walking a tightrope, be professional, be masculine, not too feminine,
but not too aggressive, but assertive, but not too much,” said Kondo-Shah. “Don't let people see your weakness.”
She spoke about asking for help, accepting imperfections, priorities, communication, and various other self-improvement recommendations. After her speech, the group held panels and presentations about empowerment, mental health and goal setting which were led by women from across the rank spectrum and civilians.
“It was real relatable,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Marissa Cross, assigned to CFAS career counselor office. “Because these women, junior sailors, chiefs, officers, rank doesn’t matter. The struggles and obstacles are the same.”
“I think the event was very successful,” said Densham. “There was a lot of positive
feedback and we hope to continue this as an annual event.”