Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Japan's Action

November 19, 2007

The "assurance of fairness" and gender equality is one of the basic objectives of Japan's ODA, as stated in the "ODA Charter" of August 2003 and the "Medium-Term Policy on ODA" (February, 2005)
With the purpose of promoting gender equality for development more effectively, Japan has reviewed its former "Women in Development (WID) Initiative" introduced in 1995, and announced the "Gender and Development (GAD) initiative" at the 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March, 2005. The new Initiative articulates Japan's strategy for gender mainstreaming in order to strengthen Japan's ODA assistance to developing countries' efforts to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment.

Domestic Actions

(photo1) 02_image01.jpg Photo from JICA/ Technical Cooperation Project in Mexico

Japan supports international commitments that aim to achieve women's empowerment and gender equality, including:

  • The "World Plan of Action" adopted at the World Conference of the International Women's Year (1975),
  • The "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women" (1979),
  • The"Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action" (1995) ,
  • The United Nations' "Millennium Declaration" (2000).

In Japan, the "Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society" was enacted in 1999, which stipulates that Japan shall work with international partners to create a gender-equal society.

Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy, the "Initiative on Women In Development (WID)" was announced in 1995, and states that assistance should be provided in three priority areas: education, health, and economic and social participation of women. Efforts have been made to integrate women into the development process through contributions to multilateral organizations and bilateral assistance.

Moreover, in 2005, 10 years after the 4th World Conference on Women held in 1995, Japan announced the Gender and Development (GAD) Initiative in March, 2005 in order to incorporate the gender perspective into every stage of ODA process and promote gender equality and women's empowerment for development.

MOFA's Action

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) has been working to reinforce the support for gender mainstreaming through the capacity development within the organization as well as the ODA projects towards more consideration for gender. Gender issues have been incorporated into the basic ODA policy of each sector such as "Disaster Reduction", "Health" and "Water and Sanitation." In order to promote gender equality, it is crucial that MOFA staff to recognize the importance of gender perspectives. To achieve this objective, since November, 2005, the gender training has been provided not only for MOFA staff. In June 2006, a distant-learning seminar was provided for the field-based ODA Task Force with the cooperation of FASID.

In 2005, MOFA also established the system of "ODA Gender Officer" both in Headquarters and Embassies. MOFA works to build on best practice, closely monitoring projects implemented in this field and works to share information to promote gender mainstreaming in every stage of delivery of Japan's ODA

Source: Gender Mainstreaming in ODA
(Japanese (PDF, 1.20MB)Open a new window / English (PDF, 1.23MB)Open a new window)

ODA Policy on Gender

The Framework Featured in ODA Charter & Mid-Term Policy (Extracts)

Japan's Official Development Assistance Charter (August, 2003)

  • I. Philosophy--Objectives, Policies, and Priorities
    • 2.Basic Policies
      • (3) Assurance of Fairness
        In formulating and implementing assistance policies, Japan will take steps to assure fairness. This should be achieved by giving consideration to the condition of the socially vulnerable, and the gap between the rich and the poor as well as the gap among various regions in developing countries. Furthermore, great attention will be paid with respect to factors such as environmental and social impact on developing countries of the implementation of ODA.
        In particular, the perspective of gender equality is important. Japan will make further efforts to improve the status of women, giving full consideration to the active participation of women in development, and to ensure that women reap benefits from development.

Japan's Medium-Term Policy on ODA (February, 2005)

  • 3. Priority Issues
    Priority issues will be addressed in line with the following basic principles outlined in the ODA Charter: provision of support for the self-help efforts ("ownership") of developing countries, adoption of the "human security" perspective, ensuring equity (including the perspective of gender and consideration of socially vulnerable people), utilization of Japan's experience and expertise (including ensuring overall policy coherence), and action in concert with the international community (including South-South Cooperation).
    • (1) Poverty Reduction
      • i Japan's Position on Poverty Reduction
        • (b) Poverty is not only an economic dimension, such as low income and expenditure. It also has social and political dimensions exemplified by lack of access to basic social services such as education and public health services, gender inequality, and lack of opportunities to participate in the decision-making process. The MDGs consist, to a large extent, of targets relating to the social sector, such as education and public health. At the same time, as the experience of development in East Asia demonstrates, sustained economic growth is a necessary condition for reducing poverty. Therefore, poverty reduction should be pursued comprehensively through actions that address both the economic and social dimensions.
      • ii. Approach to Poverty Reduction and Specific Actions
        • (b) Direct Assistance to the Poor
          Direct assistance to the poor occupies a significant position in efforts to reduce poverty. From the "human security" perspective, this requires strengthening the capabilities of the poor and communities so as to enable the poor to participate in the formulation of aid policies, and the project planning and implementation process that affect their own lives. In particular, cooperation with NGOs and other entities capable of responding to diverse needs at the grassroots level will be pursued.
        • (i) Enhancing Basic Social Services
          In order to improve the quality of life of the poor, Japan will actively assist in the enhancement of basic social services, such as education, health services, safe water supply, shelter, and electrification, while encouraging improvements in governance in the recipient country... .. In addition, assistance that will contribute to women and children's health and reproductive health will be provided, addressing infectious diseases and women's capacity building.
    • (4) Peace-building
      • ii. Approach to Peace-building and Specific Actions
        • (f) Consideration for Socially Vulnerable People
          Rapid protection will be provided to people who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of conflict, such as people with impaired health, women and children, and to people who are direct victims of conflicts. Particular consideration will be given to capacity building for the socially disadvantaged, including mine victims.
  • Appendix
    Examples of projects that have achieved results by incorporating the "human security" perspective (projects ongoing as of 2004)
    - Water supply development with community participation in Senegal
    Due to lack of proper water supply facilities such as wells in rural areas of Senegal, many women and children must routinely travel long distances to draw water. In addition, due to the unavailability of safe water, many areas suffer from extremely poor sanitation. In order to protect local people from the threat of "want" of water, Japan provided grant aid to develop water supply facilities. In addition to the development of water supply facilities, assistance was also provided in the form of technical cooperation to empower local residents so that they can realize and sustain a better livelihood through their own efforts. In concrete terms, Japan provided support to form a resident organization and training in methods of maintenance, inspection and collection of rates so as to enable the operation and maintenance of water supply facilities at the village level. Assistance was also provided to educate about health and sanitation by relating it to water sanitation so as to improve the lives of women and other residents. Following such assistance, the residents took their own initiative to raise household incomes by means such as poultry farming projects with surplus funds from the management of water supply facilities. These activities have supported people's empowerment and rural development. At the same time, they combine a variety of forms of assistance, including support to vulnerable groups such as women and children; cross-sectoral assistance spanning fields such as health, sanitation and education; and collaboration with other agencies through the use of a resident organization model that other countries' aid agencies are working to propagate. As a result of this Japanese assistance, a large number of women and children in rural areas have been freed from the work of drawing water from long distances, and local residents have been able to realize a more sanitary living condition.

Initiatives & Funding Commitment

Good Practices on Gender

Dispatch of Japan Disaster Relief Teams for Major Earthquakes Such as in Pakistan

(photo2) 02_image02.jpg Examination of a female victim by a female doctor (Photo: JICA)

Japan dispatched a Disaster Relief Teams to Pakistan when it was struck by a major earthquake which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale in October 2005. As Pakistan is an Islamic country, many women are uncomfortable being examined by male doctors.

To enable female victims to receive emergency medical services which were sensitive to their needs, teams were formed with a male-female ratio of 3:2, and efforts were made to treat the victims by staff of the same sex. Clinics also provided separate male and female reception and waiting rooms.
As a result many more women received treatment with a male and female examination ratio increasing to 54:46, respectively.

Source: ODA White Paper (2006)


Photo from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Handbook (MOFA, 2005)

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