World in You × Org series interviews mission-driven organizations working to address various social issues. We will first feature several organizations empowering women in the workplace.

This article is a summary of the interview. For the complete interview, please visit our YouTube channel. (YouTube is in Japanese.)

Our 2nd interview features the founder of Nonprofit Organization ArrowArrow, Yukari Horie, and the current representative, Chihiro Unno.
(Interviewer: Mio Yamamoto, original Japanese article written by Rumi Onuma, summarized and translated by Tomoko Hamaji )


Why Must We Choose Between Work and Parenthood?


I am the founder of ArrowArrow and currently serve as the chairperson of Tokyo Community School. While most of ArrowArrow’s operations are entrusted to Unno, I provide some support. My initial motivation stemmed from issues related to women's employment. I was shocked when a friend declined a job offer because she felt it would be difficult to balance work and childcare. This led me to establish ArrowArrow to address the need to choose between working and having children. The vision of ArrowArrow is to create a society overflowing with choices, unaffected by reasons such as childcare or caregiving. We aim to build a society where people have ample options for every life event.


Realizing the Potential to Change How We Work


My encounter with ArrowArrow was in 2011, during its founding phase. At that time, I was grappling with how I would live and work moving forward. Working at a small company, I observed senior female colleagues leaving one by one, believing that balancing personal life events like marriage and childbirth meant giving up on desired careers.

It was during this period that I participated in ArrowArrow's lifestyle design course and met Horie. This encounter made me realize that the challenge was not just personal but also societal and organizational. I learned that many people were choosing the lives they wanted without compromising, and there were supportive companies enabling this choice. This realization prompted me to join ArrowArrow in 2013, becoming co-representative in 2014 and then representative in 2019. My role involves advocating for changes in work options deemed impossible, supporting both individuals and organizations in their journey towards diverse work lifestyles.


Reducing Female Attrition in SMEs Due to Marriage or Childbirth


The issues in Japan's employment environment include:

  • Creating options to balance life events and "work"
    ・The background is the issue of low employment rates during women's pregnancy and childbirth, known as the M-shaped curve.
    ・While the dip in the M-shaped curve has gradually become less pronounced, the trend still persists.

(Extracted from the presentation material of ArrowArrow)


  • Limited "work" options based on organizational size in Japan
    ・Smaller businesses offer fewer "work" options, highlighting the need for changes in how women work in Japan's predominant 98% of small and medium-sized enterprises.

(Extracted from the presentation material of ArrowArrow)


  • Gender-specific role perceptions
    ・Despite evolving attitudes among Millennials and Generation Z, traditional views persist that household chores and childcare primarily fall under women's roles.
    ・ArrowArrow aims to address the challenges faced by individuals who have attempted to balance parenting and careers but encountered insufficient workplace support or had to leave due to difficulties.

(Extracted from the presentation material of ArrowArrow)


ArrowArrow's Projects


  • 産休!Thank you!社員!Shine!
    (産休 sankyu = maternity leave, 社員 shain = employees)

We sometimes receive inquiries from companies that have no precedent of women continuing to work after childbirth. Through our program "産休!Thank you!社員!Shine!" , we have been involved in creating systems for entering maternity and childcare leave, decomposing tasks for return, and implementing changes in company work styles. Moreover, when broader industry-wide changes are needed, we convene management from across the industry to propose what management needs to consider and change.


  • Internship for mom

“Internship for mom” was launched from the question of why parents with elementary school-aged children cannot work in a way that allows them to say "welcome back" when their children return home. Addressing the challenge of the lack of options for working "short hours," we created a system connecting individuals who want to work for a few hours a day, 2-4 days a week, with small and medium-sized enterprises in the community that need such workers. When we started in 2014, there were few such initiatives, and we garnered attention from various media outlets. We also had opportunities to advise governmental bodies. This venture has been a realization that we can create something that didn't exist before.


Through initiatives like this, we not only provide choices for individuals in how they work but also work daily to change the structure of accepting organizations.


Message from Chihiro Unno:

"In the times ahead, I believe it's crucial how individuals take ownership. It's challenging to contemplate how individuals can be the starting point, how they connect with corporations, whether they can be satisfied with their own way of life, and how they decide to change or maintain it. However, I have hope that by cooperating together, we can navigate these complexities, evolve, and take action collectively. I look forward to discussing 'work' with all of you in this turbulent era."






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