Writing Women In — to Equality

An obituary of Beate Gordon, who died last week at the age of 89, shone a bright light on people who have made enormous differences in the lives of millions, and remained unknown to most of us. Gordon, as a 22 interpreter on General MacArthur’s post war staff in Japan, was assigned to work on women’s rights for the new, US drafted constitution.  Since she had lived in Japan prior to the war, she had seen how women were treated.

“Japanese women were historically treated like chattel; they were property to be bought and sold on a whim,” Ms. Gordon told The Dallas Morning News in 1999. “Women had no rights whatsoever.”

She drafted two articles that became part of Japanese women’s lives.

One, Article 14, said in part, “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

The other, Article 24, gave women protections in areas including “choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters.”

She went on to make further wide reaching contributions to Japanese and American lives with the Japan Society as director of performing arts.

Amazing woman.   NY Times  The Asia Society  Japan Times  and her memoir of those years is The Only Woman in the Room

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