Feature

The Founding of the Young Women's Division

Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Youth Division

SGI-USA young women strengthen bonds of friendship, Weston, Florida, November 2015. Photo: Laura Mintz.


[1951] On July 19, a humid summer evening, the inaugural ceremony for the young women’s division was held. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda offered the following guidance on this occasion: “Everyone in the Soka Gakkai’s young women’s division should become happy down to the last member. The history of women up to today has consisted of women grieving over their destinies. You are young women who embrace Nichiren Buddhism. You need not grieve over your destinies any longer. This hinges, however, on the condition that you carry through with a pure, strong faith throughout your lives. Praying that each one of you will attain happiness, I will close my speech for today. Congratulations!” (The Human Revolution, p. 595).

[1952] President Toda established the Kayo-kai over dinner with a core group of young women’s leaders on October 21. During their meal, President Toda explained the significance of the group’s name, explaining that ka means “flower,” yo means “sun” and kai means “group.” He further stated, “Be as beautiful as flowers and proud as the sun.” He encouraged the young women to develop invincible faith based on Buddhist study, saying: “What is most important to the young women’s division is the study of Buddhist philosophy. Learn as much about this philosophy as possible. That is the only way your division will grow” (The Human Revolution, p. 894). This encouragement to make Buddhist study a priority became the foundational guidance for the young women’s division.

[1961] On November 12, 85,000 young women gathered at Mitsuzawa Athletic Stadium, where four years earlier President Toda had delivered his Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. This gathering was in celebration of the young women’s division reaching an astounding membership of 264,000 members. At this gathering, President Ikeda said: “I hope we will develop ourselves so that we can confidently say, ‘If you want proof, just look at our lives.’ You who possess this lofty, noble philosophy are the women who will lead the next era. You all must strive to become capable of doing so . . . I hope you will be deeply aware of your noble mission and continue to further your understanding of Buddhism through study” ( The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, p. 203).