Japanese Red Cross
”There is no singular absolute style of leadership”
Miki joined the Japanese Red Cross Society as a nurse in 1987. In addition to her daily duties as a nurse at the Himeji Red Cross Hospital, she has been engaging in Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian missions abroad more than 17 times and has been involved in disaster relief operations across Japan six times.
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Japanese Red Cross

”Throughout my over 35-year long career in the humanitarian field, I dedicated myself to caring for patients, strengthening resilience of the most vulnerable people and communities, and supporting colleagues through the provision of training and education. In 2023, I was recognized for my humanitarian effort, when I was awarded the Florence Nightingale medal (49th award).

I firmly believe in the inherent strength and resilience of people, as well as in their inherent wisdom regarding what is best for their community. I am not inherently strong, but Red Cross empowers me with strength and resilience. And my approach involves quietly accompanying people and listening to them, rather than imposing ideas or methods. I don’t want to be a preacher, instead, I prefer to stand alongside people quietly and humbly, and try to support them through an evidence-based approach.

At disaster sites, my priority lies in conducting comprehensive assessments from diverse perspectives to gather information on local needs. While honoring the values of those affected and respecting their cultural traditions, relief teams should employ sustainable methods, collaborate with various institutions, exhibit a readiness to adapt and negotiate, and demonstrate their capacity to take action.
I learned from being a woman leader in the humanitarian field that I do what I want in my way. My approach is more like a “nursing approach”, perhaps stemming from my background as a nurse. Instead of pursuing personal success, always consider what’s the best for the patients.

”While some leaders may be good at commanding and speaking, others shine in their ability to support and encourage others”

– Miki Takahara, Japan

I believe that being a leader does not require being a hero. Women do not need to act like men. I want to encourage women to be flexible and soft like silk. There is no singular absolute style of leadership. While some leaders may be good at commanding and speaking, others shine in their ability to support and encourage others – diversity in leadership is essential.

To be honest, diversity posed challenges for me in my early years. Coming from a society with a highly homogeneous culture, diverse opinions confused me. Now, I recognize the value of diversity, which enriches our world.

What do I dream of? I want to cultivate vegetables in the little garden back in my hometown. And I also aspire to cultivate professional nurses in the humanitarian fields who embraces diversity. Moreover, I aim to enhance diversity in Japan: minority community often find themselves marginalized and disconnected from relief efforts due to language barrier and cultural differences. We must ensure support for these people, and I want to make sure that in disaster prone Japan no one is left behind.

Mika Takahara

Japan, 1987

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Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine, January-April 1990

“The women of Castiglione nursed and soothed the wounded soldiers, ut when the Red Cross was born, no women were in attendance. Today women are still nursing the wounded... But are they in on the decision making?”

– IFRC Everyone Counts Report, 2019

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