Targets for females eyed for U.N. work

Kyodo

The government has started making arrangements to set numerical targets for female Self-Defense Forces personnel to be sent on U.N. peacekeeping operations or work at U.N. agencies.

The government will integrate the targets into an action program the Foreign Ministry wants to draw up by the end of fiscal 2013 in March, with an eye to making the numerical targets part of Japan’s international commitments, government sources said Sunday.

The United Nations proposed in 2009 that the proportion of female peacekeepers sent by each U.N. member state be raised to 10 percent and that Japan use the criteria as a “reference,” they said.

The move is aimed at demonstrating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stated goal of empowering women, following his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, in which he offered more than $3 billion in official development assistance over the next three years for related efforts, the sources said.

A combined 350 SDF members are deployed in South Sudan for U.N. peacekeeping operations, but women account for only 13 of them, the Defense Ministry said.

Although the women slightly outnumber the men at the U.N. Secretariat, the overall figure is far out of proportion to Japan’s contribution to the U.N. budget, and the secretariat has been urging Japan to increase their presence.