Statement by Ms. Mikiko Otani
Alternate Representative of Japan
Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Item 64: Advancement of Women
Item 65: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women
and of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly
12 October 2005
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In March this year, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we reaffirmed these documents and welcomed the progress that has been made, while stressing that there were still challenges and obstacles to their implementation.
In September this year, our leaders once again acknowledged the importance of these documents in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, promoting gender equality, and eliminating discrimination against women. As our leaders also collectively stressed at the Summit , the challenges we are now facing are new ones. Women can play a much wider range of roles in society than they do today, and if we enabled them to do so, this would undoubtedly help us to more effectively deal with those challenges of the 21 st century.
I wish to begin this statement by touching on both natural disasters and peacebuilding processes as two of the newer fronts in which women’s roles could be further explored and gender sensitivity should be enhanced.
Since the beginning of this year, we have witnessed the great power of nature, particularly in the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean and the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in this country. As part of the unprecedented response to the former incident by the international community, the initiatives taken by UNIFEM to enhance the role of women in reconstruction process in the affected areas -- namely, by supporting the leadership of local women and mobilizing women’s networks, helping revive women’s livelihoods, and promoting the protection of women in collaboration with national and international actors -- are all deserving of praise. Sharing the view of UNIFEM that “women must be at the heart of the recovery process,” Japan provided it with US$ 1 million in response to the UN Flash Appeal in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, putting emphasis on the importance of gender perspective in respect of all aspects of cooperation on disaster reduction.
In addition, the Government of Japan announced the “Initiative for Disaster Reduction through ODA”, at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe, Japan, in January. This initiative and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, adopted by the World Conference, reaffirmed that a gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster reduction processes.
In recent years, the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacebuilding, and post-conflict reconstruction processes has been gaining increasing recognition. These ideas are also highlighted in the outcome document adopted at the high-level plenary meeting. Despite the fact that women have often been at the forefront in urging an end to conflict, they have mostly remained on the margins of formal peace and reconstruction processes. In formulating policies and programs in these areas, it is essential to take women’s needs into account and look at the issues from a gender perspective, because in fact women can play a central role in maintenance and promotion of peace and security.
In this regard, Japan wishes again to reiterate the importance of the empowerment of women, based on the concept of human security, which we believe is, in essence, the protection and empowerment of ordinary individuals. To cite an example of our assistance, Japan provided contribution to a UNIFEM project in post-conflict Afghanistan through the Trust Fund for Human Security. This project is successfully empowering female refugees and internally displaced persons with a view to reintegrating them into post-conflict society by providing them with vocational training, convening seminars, and carrying out income-generating programs.
This year, not only have we reviewed the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, but we have also examined the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. At the same time, we have acknowledged that there are challenges and obstacles to be overcome in achieving development across interrelated issues such as gender equality and that, as a result, the goal of gender equality still remains unfulfilled.
In order to address this view, the Government of Japan prepared a policy paper entitled the “Initiative on Gender and Development (GAD),” with a view to integrating and mainstreaming a gender perspective into every phase of the implementation of Japan ’s ODA programs, including the planning of policies and measures whose main beneficiaries are men as well as women. Under this initiative, Japan will further strengthen its support for the efforts by developing countries to promote gender equality and empowerment of women.
At the national level, Japan has taken concrete steps for the advancement of women following the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which has proven effective in protecting the human rights of women and promoting gender equality. To promote the participation of women in the policy and decision-making process, the Government of Japan set a specific numerical target in this regard in 2003: women will account for at least 30 percent of the leadership positions in all sectors of society by the year 2020.
In order to ensure equal employment opportunities for both men and women and fair treatment and to support the balancing of career and family life, the Japanese government has taken various measures. It is particularly necessary for men and boys to play a proactive role to attain this goal, and for this reason Japan has been vigorously promoting the participation of men in child-rearing and increased child-care support services under the ”Childcare Support Plan” (general action plan to support the development of the next-generation).
Last year in this Committee, my government expressed the hope that the path to achieving gender equality would become one that women and men would walk together. This year, having renewed our commitment to the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action and the Millennium Declaration, we believe that we still have a way to go before this hope can be realized although we certainly applaud the progress made. We will continue and intensify our efforts to translate our promises into action so that we will be more capable of dealing with the new challenges before us.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.