September Monthly Meeting Recap – Rina Bovrisse

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From Prada Epicenter to Court Battle…and How She Persists

Rina Bovrisse, a former fashion industry leader who sued her employer – Prada Japan – for discrimination and sexual harassment in 2009 and, eventually, lost her fashion career due that suit, shared her inspiring journey at the FEW Monthly Meeting in September. Now running her own international preschool in Tokyo, she looks to expand her business abroad, and even considers running for governor of Tokyo in the future.

Bovrisse had a firm determination to work in the fashion industry since she was young. Through her through hard work and focus, she found her way to Chanel in New York. This was not the way many other Japanese women were behaving  at the time. Bovrisse shared, “The life goal of women around me in Japan was to have a rich marriage. I was very lucky as I was able to speak out, and go where I wanted to go.”

The next time she found she must use her voice was when she landed a job at Prada in Japan. Prompted by the discriminatory acts in the company, she spoke out, so much that it led her to the court speaking against her employer, making headlines internationally.

“I initially wanted to keep it low-scale, but it kept getting bigger and bigger because more and more truth came out about Japan,” Bovrisse said.

Rina QuoteIn the aftermath of the case, Bovrisse learned that speaking out and pushing back can take a toll. She was followed by private detectives, a barrage of press camped outside her home and, when she lost the case, she also lost her job and career in the industry she loved. However, she succeeded in bringing the issue to the United Nations, which forced the Japanese society to start paying attention to the sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

After the court case and media frenzy, Bovrisse switched tracks and founded Chateau School preschool in Tokyo.

Next, Bovrisse wants to use her voice in politics to refashion Japanese society further – she is considering running for governor of Tokyo.

Rina Bovrisse may have started out as an accidental activist, but her determination and resilience, especially during the hard times, shows that she’s fully committed to bringing about the change and we, at FEW, can’t wait to see what’s next in store.