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Ikeda Sensei

The District Women’s Leaders Shine

Emma Grimberg / Getty Images

Women who are fighting for something they believe in are beautiful. Their dedication to the happiness of their friends and fellow members shines with purity and warmth. Their lives exude compassion, optimism and vitality. Their faces always wear a bright smile, as befits these wonderful champions of kosen-rufu, who are our women’s division members.

Right now, the members are all praising and warmly supporting our district women’s leaders and vice leaders, as if to say, “They are the most beautiful, the most brilliant and outstanding of all!”

This summer [in 1998], I proposed that we change the women’s division titles for leadership.[1] This proposal was discussed at the Soka Gakkai women’s division executive conference and adopted. I’d like to take this opportunity to explain my reasons behind this suggestion.

This was my thinking: Who is it that will create the momentum for fresh growth and development in each district as we prepare to launch into the 21st century?  The answer is clear: the women’s division. We must turn to the women’s division, especially the leaders at the district level. That is why I suggested new titles for the district women’s division leaders—out of the wish that they might embark on a new phase in their activities to promote Nichiren Buddhism, with a fresh spirit and determination.

In the Soka Gakkai, there are women’s division leaders [at each level of the organizational structure]. These positions are only a matter of functions and roles within the organization; they have nothing to do with greater or lesser degrees of faith. The requirements for women’s division leaders are the same at every level: faith, a strong sense of responsibility to work for kosen-rufu and initiative. As far as I am concerned, each of our district women’s leaders is equally qualified, in terms of faith, to be a national women’s leader. This is the reason why the Soka Gakkai is so strong. 

After we married, my wife was the Meguro Group women’s leader in Kamata Chapter for a while. In those days, groups consisted of several units, and a group was roughly equivalent to our present district. My wife was in her 20s then, and the unit women’s division leaders and most of the group members were older than she was. That inspired her to work twice as hard as anyone else, and she engaged herself busily in propagation activities and in encouraging and supporting her fellow members, a smile always on her face. “There’s no greater honor than working for the happiness of all,” she used to say. I fondly recall how she’d cheerfully set out into the blustery winter cold to undertake various Soka Gakkai activities, leading our eldest son by the hand while our second son was strapped to her back.

I try to be very aware of the hardships faced by our district women’s leaders and vice leaders. Many have small children to care for, or some hold down jobs while many others deliver the Seikyo Shimbun. How noble they are, as day after day they devote themselves to the wonderful work of kosen-rufu, burning with a sense of personal mission! People such as these embody the most beautiful, admirable volunteer spirit. A brilliant sun of joy shines in their hearts. They are regal champions of the spirit, and the road they walk leads to the palace of absolute happiness.

Their efforts will imbue their lives with the golden hue of eternal good fortune and beautifully luminous character.

The district is the “home port” of kosen-rufu. Just as ships take on fuel and supplies in a port before they set out to sea, our members set forth from the district and gather there again to refuel. When our districts are flourishing, the Soka Gakkai as a whole will succeed. A leader without a firm footing in a district is like a ship without an anchor, floating aimlessly.

It is the district leaders who keep our districts, our home ports, running smoothly, and their unity is a strong seawall that protects our members.

The reason I suggested that the title of vice women’s leaders change as well is that I would like them to have the same awareness of responsibility as the leaders they are supporting and strive to forge even stronger unity at the district level.

A leader and a vice leader exist in an indivisible relationship. Only when they communicate, respect each other, get in rhythm and work together can they set the wheels in motion for success.

The 21st century is the Century of Women. May you advance with pride in your mission as pioneers, along a path of joy, of flowers, of rainbows.

February 9, 2024, World Tribune, p. 2


  1. The titles chiku tan and chiku kanji (literally district person in charge and district staff) were changed to chiku fujin bucho and chiku fuku fujin bucho (literally district women’s division leader and district vice women’s leader), respectively. ↩︎

Discussion Meetings—Spreading the Light of Happiness and Peace