Issue Deep Dive: Japan/Gender Equality

Last updated: January 9, 2023

ODA Spending 

ODA In Context 

Japan ranked fifth out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality in absolute terms, but 24th in relative terms. 

In 2020, Japan’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was at 31%, well below the DAC average of 45%.  

Japan’s 2020 contributions represent a slight (0.4%) decrease compared to 2019 levels.

Of the US$4.3 billion in Japan’s gender equality-focused ODA in 2020, US$105 million was directed to projects which addressed gender in a principal way. This represents just 1% of all bilateral allocable ODA (:abbrDAC average: 7%). This makes Japan one of the lowest DAC members (28th) in terms of relative focus on principal gender funding.

Meanwhile, US$4.2 billion of Japan’s ODA was categorized in 2020 as addressing gender in a significant way. This funding is comprised largely of infrastructure projects, which are categorized increasingly as gender-significant funding.

ODA Breakdown 

Bilateral Spending 

Japan’s ODA for gender equality is largely concentrated in five key sectors, which comprise 81% of all gender-focused ODA. Like Japan’s overall sector allocations, the largest focus is on infrastructure, with half of gender-focused ODA in 2020 allocated to this sector. This is followed by agriculture (13%), other multisector initiatives (6%), health and populations (6%), and humanitarian assistance (5%).

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.  

Mutlilateral 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 ninth-largest government donor in 2021, providing US$21 million. Japan also contributes gender-specific ODA UNFPA.

The table below summarizes Japan’s more recent commitments to multilaterals working on issues related to gender equality. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked (bilateral) funding from Japan. 

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 expanded upon this and 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 World Assembly for Women 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.


Key Bodies

Qi Liu

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