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Decision-making on economic assistance to developing countries should reflect more opinions from women, according to a government panel.

The panel at the Cabinet Office’s Council for Gender Equality cited in a report, compiled Monday, the need to seek active participation of women in making loan decisions and not to regard women in aid-recipient countries as “the socially weak who need care” but as “principal players for development.”

The panel conducted research with the aim of prompting gender equality in dispersing official development assistance. After soliciting public opinions, it will present a report to the council in April.

Regarding aid grants, including emergency assistance and food aid, when women are often direct recipients, the panel is urging research on the impact of aid on promoting gender equality.

It also noted the need to consider a gender balance in selecting financial assistance for foreign students in Japan.

The panel’s report points out the lack of statistical data to gauge to what degree the government has been incorporating gender equality steps in devising aid policies.

Panel head Genrokuro Furuhashi said, “Without statistics, we cannot say to other countries that Japan is making efforts at promoting gender equality.”

The panel is urging more cooperation between the Foreign Ministry, which oversees ODA, and the Cabinet Office’s Council for Gender Equality, which was established in January 2001 under the reorganization of government ministries.

To strengthen the prime minister’s overall policy leadership capability and ability to provide comprehensive coordination among government bodies, the Cabinet Office is ranked one level higher than the other ministries and agencies.

The council, which has 25 members, including Cabinet ministers and intellectuals and is chaired by the chief Cabinet secretary, is one of the Cabinet Office’s advisory organs, along with the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the Council for Science and Technology Policy, and the Central Disaster Prevention Council.

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