Women’s participation in decision-making at local level – gender justice is the key for successful DRR/M

infograph_DRR We have learnt that women’s participation in decision making at local level is as important as at national level for gender just and inclusive disaster recovery, risk reduction and management.(“Are women wives and mothers to cook and care? Lessons learnt through two mega-earthquakes”)

Local government and agencies, community governance mechanisms, and management and decision making systems at work place play important roles in disaster management and should ensure gender equality and women’s participation.

In rural Japan, like the areas affected by the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami in 2011, many people engage in agriculture and fisheries. Women, too, play a vital role in rice and vegetable farming, seaweed growing or various post-harvest practices as major or part of their livelihoods.

According to the data from the Ministry Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, women in agriculture count 51% (1.211/ 2.390 million) in 2013.  [There is no disaggregated data on women in fisheries on the same database!] 

The Japan Fisheries Cooperative (JF) and the Japan Agriculture Cooperative (JA) organize people in agriculture and fisheries respectively at local and national level. Those organizations play a key role in managing individual, family-based and corporate agriculture and fisheries enterprises at local level.

They are also important organizations in disaster management for people in agriculture and fisheries. Level of women’s participation in decision-making and management in those organizations is, however, quite low.

The issues for women to participate in decision-making in fisheries have been illustrated through the interview (“Women only get the secondhand information from husbands on the post-tsunami reconstruction”)

What about agriculture sector?

No gender disaggregated data

I looked at the homepage of JA Miyagi, the place I am from and affected by the tsunami. I could not find out how many women are in full membership and in its board members. It does not show gender disaggregated data. None of 13 local JAs within the JA Miyagi group has gender disaggregated data on respective homepage. I can just guess there are a few women listed among some board members through seemingly women’s names.

The Ministry has not updated the data on women’s participation in JA and JF for 10 years

The homepage of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan includes the data of women in decision making bodies in agriculture and fisheries and 2004 is the latest data there.

According to that, 10 years ago, the number of women who were in full membership (with a vote) of JA was 15.59% of which in board was 1.53%. 

The total number of population engaging in agriculture in 2008 (over age of 15 spending more days for agriculture a year) was 2.986 million of which women were 1.597 mil (53%) (the data in the closest year to the ones above, to compare with).

Women make up –


I must recognize that there are a lot of women in fisheries and agriculture who have been doing great work such as initiating innovative business, contributing to environmental conservation, inspiring community work, health cooking and culture, etc. and that those are well promoted by those organizations and the Ministry.

Women in agriculture are struggling for closing the gap between the level of women’s contribution and their voices in decision making.


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