"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] TICADV Thematic Session 4 Driving Development through Gender Equality: Advancing the Empowerment of Women, H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

[Place] Pacifico Yokohama
[Date] June 2, 2013, 9:00-12:00
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Madam Chairperson, thank you for your introduction.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At TICAD V vigorous discussions are taking place concerning the direction of Africa'sgrowth and the realization of human security from various aspects, such as economy,society and peace and stability. In the course of discussion, it has been pointed out thatone of the most important factors for the achievement of Africa's growth is humanresources.

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday, Japan has focused on human resourcedevelopment in Africa. In particular, we are stepping up our efforts to help develophuman resources for business and industry through vocational training, highereducation, and the expansion of 'kaizen' practices. I hope that the excellent humanresources developed through these undertakings will serve as a solid foundation forAfrica's growth.

At present, there is a certain segment of human resources that has not been well usedin Africa - that is women. When I visited Africa I saw women traveling over thehighlands carrying firewood overhead, which were about three times the height of thewomen themselves. I was surprised at the scene, and asked myself if those women arereleased from this kind of hard labor they can unlock their true potential. Changesneed to be made to make sure that women are incorporated into the mainstream of andplay much more active roles in their countries' development.

Let me share a successful example with you. Yesterday, Prime Minister Abe talkedabout a project that doubled incomes of smallholder farmers in Kenya. The secret ofthis success was women. When the project was launched, a rule was introduced toensure the equal participation of female and male farmers in all the related trainingsessions, considering the fact that 70% of the workforce were female. As a result,women started to show their strong capabilities in all kinds of steps in the project. Oneexample was a market research exercise in which they studied what items would sellwell and when they would be sold with higher margins, and so on. Under the project,farmers in the village successfully doubled their incomes within two years. Thosewomen now explain to those who visit the village to learn about their practices that aweekly market survey is the key. In the not so distant future, they might visit Japan foragribusiness.

It is gender mainstreaming that is necessary to make it happens,- in other words, tofocus on women in all aspects of development. That is what Japan always keeps inmind when engaging in assistance to Africa.

In this regard, it is naturally essential to strengthen assistance in addressingfemale-specific issues, for instance, maternal, newborn, and child health care andreproductive health. Also, it is essential to ensure gender equality in educationopportunities. The installation of separate toilets for boys and girls contribute toincreases the rates of girls who enroll in schools. In addition, it is necessary toestablish a sound legal system and raise awareness regarding personal identificationand authorities for signing loan contracts so as to realize gender equality forentrepreneurship.

It is also known that peace and stability can be more effectively maintained throughensuring women's participation in a series of processes from conflict prevention topeace building. Women are more likely to suffer critical damage in the event ofconflict or disaster because of their vulnerability. Therefore, just as disarmament ofsoldiers and vocational training are inseparable, care services to heal wounds from theviolence and support for human development need to be simultaneously provided forwomen in a post-conflict recovery process. By all accounts, femal perspectives shouldbe effectively incorporated in each process from conflict prevention and peacebuilding, to reconstruction. With regard to disaster risk reduction, by involving womenin all the procedures—starting from the formulation of disaster risk reductionplans—it is possible to accommodate needs based on thoughtful preparation for actualsituations. In line with this approach, Japan led international efforts to adopt theresolution on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Natural Disastersin a UN session last year. Going forward, we are committed to giving dueconsideration regarding gender equality and the empowerment of women in all arenaswhen implementing assistance measures.

The African Union (AU) has designated the decade from 2010 to 2020 as the AfricanWomen's Decade. Actually, 'women' are one of the central themes of the Japanesegrowth strategies being implemented by the Abe administration. On the diplomaticfront, I attach great importance to peace-, safety-, and women-oriented perspectives.The central idea here in common is that unless women exert their capabilities nationscannot develop. Driven by the passion shared among all, Japan will continuouslystrive to continue to enhance assistance for women in Africa.(End)