Japan vows to boost women’s leadership and development assistance for gender equality (updated)

“We have set a goal that about 30 per cent of leadership positions ... be occupied by women by 2020. ... Japan has pledged to contribute more than 42 billion yen ... in the next three years ... to resolving challenges to gender equality, development and peace.” –Shinzō Abe, Prime Minister, Japan (Photo: UN Women/Sarah Stacke)

A fundamental pillar of Japanese policy has been the realization of a society where women shine. As a result, in the past three years, more than 90,000 women have entered the Japanese labour market. A goal for women to occupy about 30 per cent of leadership positions by 2020 has already been exceeded among newly hired national public servants. Japan has enacted a new law to promote the active engagement of women in society, making it commonplace for both men and women to share responsibility for work, household chores and child rearing. 

Internationally, its donation to UN Women has increased tenfold in the past two years. Over the next three years, Japan pledges to contribute more than 42 billion yen in official development assistance towards continued actions to resolve challenges to gender equality, development and peace.

Speaking at the Global Leaders' Meeting on 27 September 2015, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said: “Since I became Prime Minister of Japan, the fundamental pillar of my policy has been the realization of a society where women shine.” [ Speech ]

Developments since Japan’s commitment

One year following its commitment to achieving a “society where women shine”, Japan has taken several actions to boost women’s education, empowerment and participation. In 2016, at the Ise–Shima Summit hosted by Japan, where G7 leaders endorsed the G7 Guiding Principles for Building the Capacity of Women and Girls and the Women’s Initiative in Developing STEM Career (WINDS), Prime Minister Abe presented Japan’s plan to offer technical training for 5,000 women and assist with education of 50,000 female students between 2016 and 2018.

In April 2016, the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace fully entered into force, which requires large companies and public entities to create their own action plans with specific targets and to disclose relevant information.

The recent “Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” prioritizes the promotion of gender-responsive infrastructure, girl’s education (including in the field of STEM) and women’s leadership, especially in disaster risk reduction.

In 2014 and 2015, Japan hosted the World Assembly for Women (WAW!), and this year WAW! 2016 will be held on 13–14 December in Tokyo, where leaders and development practitioners will share knowledge and best practices to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world. [ Full update ]