US Secretary of State’s Office Delegation Visits fermata in Tokyo.
On Friday June 23, 2023, fermata had the honour of hosting a delegation from the United States, including esteemed representatives from the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women's Issues: Ms. Katrina Fotovat, Ms. Allison Dower, Ms. Rocio Mercado-Garcia, and Ms. Kayla McGill. The visit took place at our Tokyo office, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to transforming taboos into triumphs.
We organised a roundtable discussion with influential entrepreneurs, who are driving positive change in Japan. Among them were:
- Kumi Takahashi, co-founder of specialised menstrual underwear brand Be-A,
- Honami Uchiyama, co-founder of men’s leak-proof boxer provider OPT,
- Yusuke Ishikawa, founder of fertility service provider Famione,
- Yan Fan, co-founder of coding school Code Chrysalis.
The group engaged in a vibrant conversation, sharing the challenges, successes, and opportunities in improving women’s health conditions and championing women’s empowerment in Japan.
From challenging society’s perception around fertility with Famione’s fertility services, to Be-A’s platform providing education around menstruation, to raising awareness of issues faced by trans and nonbinary individuals through OPT, and helping Japan become a software leader in the world through Code Chrysalis’s re-skill and upskill opportunities, these pioneering companies are breaking barriers and serving as role models for future generations, making impactful change in the femtech and related industries.
Dr. Amina Sugimoto, fermata’s Co-founder and CEO, provided valuable insights into the exceptional growth of the femtech industry in Japan over the last four years, and fermata’s pivotal role in shaping the industry. Our unique position to be able to engage directly with consumers through our storefronts, collaborate with companies for product development and expansion strategies through our consultancy services, and actively participate with government officials through the Femtech Parliamentary Committee has enabled us to drive and witness this significant change.
While “Femtech” was initially coined to describe digital solutions specifically tailored to women’s health needs, and to highlight the importance of developing and investing into said technologies - it has taken on a broader meaning in Japan. Femutekku (フェムテック) encompasses everything from body soaps to AI-enabled clinical tools, fostering an inclusive dialogue and removing the political and social taboos associated with women’s health and wellbeing. Japan stands as a unique market, offering abundant opportunities for local and international companies looking to make a difference in women’s health.
During the visit, Lia Camargo, fermata’s Global Business Manager, expressed some of the challenges we currently face:
- How can we ensure that the interest in femtech is not merely a trend but a sustained movement leading to institutional or systemic change?
- How can our work based in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, address diverse challenges faced by women in Asia, a region made up of over 50 countries?
Many thoughtful ideas were exchanged including diplomatic engagement with corporate clients and government officials, forming alliances and seeking partnerships to drive the agenda forward.
The occasion provided a valuable opportunity to exchange perspectives with foreign officials specialising in policy advising for the East Asia region. Many of these challenges discussed transcended national boundaries - enforcing fermata’s relentless pursuit to empower women’s health, drive innovation and create lasting change, not only in Japan but worldwide.