She Defied the Odds, and Defined Her Future

Yuki is a young woman from Tokyo, Japan. Her dream is to be a school teacher. She wants to be able to help others thrive while also providing a stable life for herself and her child.

Today, Yuki is on her way to achieving her dream of being a teacher. But for a long time, she felt like her dream would not be possible. Not only was Yuki a single mother on welfare—she also hadn’t finished high school.

You see, in Japan, where Yuki lives, there’s a big gap in education. Children from wealthy families find an easy path to education and career success, while those without money or connections are left behind. Whether you’re applying to school or interviewing for a job, having no one to sponsor you will put you at a stark disadvantage against other candidates. So the odds are stacked against people like Yuki who come from difficult circumstances.

Yuki grew up in a childcare institution until the age of twelve, when she went to live with her mother and stepfather. But both were violent towards Yuki, so much so that it damaged her self-worth. She ran away and found a live-in-job with another family, but was verbally abused there too. Eventually she struck out on her own, but she became pregnant and was faced with raising the child alone—which presented a new set of challenges. 

In Japan, single mothers are often subject to discrimination, and the state offers limited support. These women find it hard to get hired for well-paying, full-time jobs. Though 85% of Japan’s single mothers are employed, the poverty rate of single-parent families is 56%—the highest in the OECD. For Yuki, even when she was working as many hours as she humanly could, it was still difficult to make ends meet.

Yuki struggled to balance motherhood and work. She changed jobs often because she had to leave work early or skip a shift if her child was sick. The jobs for which she was qualified paid poorly and provided no chance to learn new skills. Yuki felt stuck in a vicious cycle. 

“Society is very hard on single mothers. I am so ashamed of being on welfare. Even though I want to become independent, lack of education and work skills becomes such a disadvantage. I could not see my future and was so scared that I wanted to die. Those around me who cared for me helped me and I started to go to counseling. As others appreciated me, I started to welcome myself and was so grateful for others’ gentleness and warmth.”

As Yuki’s self-esteem improved, she began to plan her future. She wanted to get a degree so she could have a solid career, but going back to school would limit the welfare benefits she could receive. She found herself torn, having to choose between pursuing her dream, or providing for her family.

Then, in early 2020, Yuki received good news. She’d been selected by her local Soroptimist club to receive a Live Your Dream Award, which would provide financial assistance to help Yuki pay for school and essentials. 

“There is only so much I can do alone, so I found someone to support me and to continue with my studies. With the Live Your Dream Award, I will be able to expand my choice for studies, opportunities for my growth and choices of work, which will lead to independence for me and my child. This award has encouraged me and has given me strength.”

Being selected for a Live Your Dream Award was a life-changing moment for Yuki. It alleviated her financial struggle while also showing her that others believed in her. That she wasn’t alone. 

“I am stronger now thanks to the hardship I had to cope with because of others who helped me. I will never forget their kindness. By becoming independent, I will show them my gratitude and hope to create a better environment. My many challenges will give me strength and will contribute to my child’s future.”

You Can Make a Difference

Supporters like you are the reason that Yuki’s dream is now possible. But women and girls still face a disproportionate share of poverty, violence, and discrimination—and they need your help.

When you donate to, your gift supports women like Yuki, helping them achieve an empowered life. Take action!


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