Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2006

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2005 > Chapter 2 Details about Japan's ODA > Section 1. Assistance Relating to the Basic Policies of the ODA Charter > 2. Assurance of Fairness: For Women's Self-Support

2. Assurance of Fairness: For Women's Self-Support

All over the world, most socially-accepted ideas and social systems are established from the viewpoint of men. Women, consequently, are placed in a weak position in various areas of life. In addition, it is said that women account for about 70% of the world's poor. The sustainable development of developing countries requires that men and women equally participate in development for the mutual benefit of both. This means that concern must be given to supporting women and to the issue of gender.

    The perspective of gender equality is incorporated in the Basic Policies of the ODA Charter revised in August 2003, which clearly states that Japan will work to empower women in developing countries. In addition, the Medium-Term Policy on ODA newly enacted in February 2005 established the perspective of gender as a principle to be reflected in development efforts.

    In keeping with these aims, Japan carried out a major revision of its 1995 Women in Development (WID) Initiative upon its 10th year and launched the Gender and Development (GAD) Initiative, which was announced at the 49th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held in March 2005.

    The previous WID Initiative focused on three priority areas: education, health, and economic and social participation. In contrast, the GAD Initiative emphasizes that the gender perspective should be reflected in all areas. In addition to the priority areas specified in the WID Initiative, it also includes improvements concerning the unequal relationships between men and women, the disadvantageous socioeconomic conditions in which women are placed, and the rigid division of roles and labor between men and women. In addition, to promote gender mainstreaming1 in development GAD sets forth a plan for including the gender perspective in all stages of ODA; that is, policy formulation, planning, implementation, and evaluation. The initiative also places emphasis on the relationship between gender issues and the ODA Charter's priority issues, including poverty reduction, sustainable growth, addressing global issues, and peacebuilding, then indicates how Japan should act to address the issue of gender.

    For example, in formulating policies and projects aiming at poverty reduction, Japan gives consideration to promoting participation of women in the decision making process so that women and men can benefit equally.

    The series of independence and border conflicts which has occurred in Eritrea has produced more than one million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). With the end of conflict in 2000, refugees began the process of returning to their homelands. Even upon returning to Eritrea, however, refugees have difficulty in resettling there because they have no place to live or means of living. This is particularly a problem for the many women among the returning refugees who have lost their husbands in the conflict and who must support a family as the head of the household.

    In areas of Eritrea where the percentage of female householders is high, Japan has implemented, through NGOs, a project to promote the social and economic independence of female householders. Japan has supported establishing unions for female householders who have been provided with farmland, and provided them with the training that these women need to use farmland effectively and with tractors and other farm equipment.

A tractor provided in Eritrea (Photo: JEN)
A tractor provided in Eritrea (Photo: JEN)

    Japan has also implemented a Community-based Basic Education Improvement project in Ethiopia for the purpose of establishing a participatory basic education school model through collaboration between educational administration and community residents, and through improvements in the capacity of regional administrative officers to formulate and implement plans. In selecting areas for implementing this project, Japan adopted a policy of giving priority to those areas in Ethiopia where gender disparities were large, not only selecting areas on the basis of educational need, but also using as a criterion gender disparities in attendance rates in elementary education. Japan also adopted a plan for reducing school commuting distances by establishing new schools so as to enable children to get to school easily. The aim of this plan was not only to reduce the danger of commuting to school due to the lack of school commuting roads, but also to lessen the social and cultural risks that girls face, such as abduction for purposes of rape, kidnap marriage, or human trafficking. In addition, in the selection of committee members for the school administration committee, which runs this project independently at the school level, the following two points were emphasized: (1) the participation of women in local conferences in the selection of committee members is essential; and (2) men and women must be equally represented among the selected committee members.

    Japan intends to strive for fair and effective economic cooperation by emphasizing support for women's independence and to devote further effort to empowering women in developing countries.

Box II-1. Women in Development: Examples of Japan's Assistance