A Sophia University's Faculty of Law professor's outstanding efforts to promote gender parity in Japan have led France to name her a Knight of the French National Order of Merit.

Mari Miura, 53, who accepted the prestigious honor at the French Embassy in Tokyo on June 11, attracted the French government's attention through her activism that included making a mantra of the French word "parite."

The professor at the university in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward began using the word when she became involved in preparing a law to promote gender parity for candidates that Japan's political parties field in elections, which passed in 2018.

In Japan, women account for just 10 percent of lawmakers. But the gender parity law was recently given more teeth after it was revised to urge political parties as well as central and local governments to take measures to prevent sexual and maternity harassment.

"Japan has been gradually changing, and it will drastically change again in the next 10 years," Miura said.

She found the French concept of “loi parite” (parity law), which requires political parties to field equal numbers of male and female candidates for elections, was a perfect fit to use to explain to people why the law was needed.

Miura, who makes it a principle not to delay taking action, quickly began spreading information on gender issues in Japan and elsewhere across the world via social media under the motto of the "Parite Campaign."

She also hosted a "Parite Cafe" event around Japan and serves as co-head of the Academy for Gender Parity to teach women aspiring to become politicians about campaign methods.

Miura, who enrolled in college in 1986 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect, intuitively avoided working at male-dominated Japanese companies and chose a career as a researcher in political science. 

But insensitive remarks she received while pregnant and after becoming a mother brought her to tears.

Miura feels that by dedicating her life to researching why women have made up only a small percentage of Japan's politicians, she has been following her natural path.