Issue Deep Dive
Japan / Gender Equality
Last updated: April 14, 2023
ODA in Context
Japan ranked third out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality in absolute terms, and 14th in relative terms.
In 2021, Japan’s ODA related to gender equality stood at 42%, in line with the DAC average.
Japan’s gender equality-focused ODA increased by 57% in 2021.
US$112 million of Japan’s ODA was directed to projects which principally addressed gender. This represented just 1% of all bilateral allocable ODA, below the DAC average of 6%. This makes Japan one of the lowest-ranking DAC members in terms of relative focus on principal gender funding.
Meanwhile, US$6.4 billion of Japan’s ODA in 2021 was categorized as addressing gender in a significant way. This funding is comprised largely of infrastructure projects.
Japan’s ODA for gender equality is largely concentrated in four key sectors, which comprise 79% of all gender-focused ODA. Like Japan’s overall sector allocations, the largest focus is on infrastructure, which comprises 50% of Japan’s total bilateral allocable ODA in the sector. This is followed by humanitarian assistance (13%), other multisector initiatives (12%), and health and populations (9%).
Multilateral spending and commitments
Japan provides a limited amount of gender-specific ODA through multilaterals. Japan has supported UN Women since its founding with total contributions of US$159 million from 2011 to 2020 and was the sixth-largest government donor in 2020, providing US$23 million. Japan also contributes gender-specific ODA to UNFPA.
Funding and Policy outlook
Japan’s development policy for gender equality is cross-cutting: Japan prioritizes women’s participation in development cooperation in its development policy framework, the Development Cooperation Charter. During its G7 presidency in 2016, Japan announced the Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which focuses on women’s empowerment through three main priorities:
- Promoting women’s rights;
- Building the capacity of women and girls to reach their full potential; and
- Supporting female leadership.
The WAW! helps to advance collective action for women’s empowerment: Since 2014, Japan has hosted the annual WAW!, which brings together activists from around the world and Japan. The results of WAW! are used to inform collective actions towards women’s empowerment, but also as a reference for the Japanese government in policymaking. The 2019 WAW! was held concurrently with the W20 as part of Japan’s presidency of the G20, and generated recommendations in six areas:
- Human resource development in technology;
- Regional economic development;
- Diversity in media;
- Women, peace, and security;
- Diversity in the workplace; and
- Support for families and mothers.
The 2022 WAW! was held in Tokyo on December 3, 2022. The assembly focused on the theme, Mainstreaming Gender into a New Form of Capitalism, which brought together leaders from around the world to discuss issues such as the wage gap, climate change, business, health, and economy among others.
Japan also prioritizes efforts towards “women, peace, and security” in its development cooperation activities and policies. This is guided by Japan’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (2019-2022; last updated in 2019), which references ODA as an important tool in meeting Japan’s WPS commitments. The plan also outlines four areas where Japan will increase its support for gender equality and women’s representation:
- Participation in peace and security;
- Conflict prevention;
- Protection; and
- Humanitarian relief, recovery, and reconstruction assistance.
Japan is working on revising its Development Cooperation Charter, including an increase in ODA, by 2023. To support this revision, an expert committee submitted recommendations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasizing the importance of ODA principles such as promoting and mainstreaming gender equality and empowering women to achieve an inclusive society.
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