Plan for Gender Equality 2000

2. Reviewing Social Systems and Practices and Reforming Awareness from the Perspective of Gender Equality

[Basic Direction of Measures]

There are still many social systems and practices which are based on stereotyped notions of gender roles and which do not function neutrally for women and men in consequence, reflecting the differences in the actual positions of both sexes in society, even if they do not explicitly distinguish gender roles.

Approaching the 21st century, faced with falling birthrates, an aging population and increasingly tight constraints on natural resources and the environment, it is urgently required, in order for the society and economy to operate more effectively, that the conditions of society be adjusted to enable women and men to participate as equal members, not just in the family and workplace, but in every area of society. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to review these social systems and practices from the perspective of gender equality and daily life.

These social systems and practices have been formulated on the basis of the consciousness of every member of society. Therefore, in order to change people's consciousness, every available opportunity must be used to carry out informative and educational activities which are to reach a broad sector of the public. In particular, activities shall be conducted to enable women to be aware of their entitled rights.

In addition to these activities, efforts shall be made to collect, organize and provide information which forms the basis for the planning and implementation of policies for the promotion of gender equality.

(1) Review of social systems and practices from the perspective of gender equality

Many social systems and practices do not function neutrally for women and men in consequence, reflecting the differences in the actual position of women and men in society. Therefore, it is necessary to review these systems and practices from the perspective of gender equality, so that they do function neutrally.

Also, as many of these systems and practices are based on gender roles at the time they were formed and still reflect the notion that an individual should be treated according to her/his status within the family, there is a need for their review from the individual/oriented perspective, so that they do function neutrally, regardless of whatever lifestyle they may choose.

In adjusting various social infrastructure, consideration must be given to fully reflecting the needs and perspectives of all citizens, including women, the elderly, persons with disabilities and children, with attention to the fact that both women and men alike are citizens and workers.

[Concrete Measures]

- Review legal systems pertaining to family

Give further consideration, from the perspective of equality between women and men, to revision of marriage and divorce systems, including the introduction of a system which allows a married couple to retain separate surnames and the shortening of the period during which women are prohibited from remarriage.

- Study social systems that are neutral toward individual lifestyle choices

Evaluate extensively systems and customs that greatly influence lifestyle choices (e.g., tax system, social insurance system, spouse allowance system) from the perspective of neutrality toward individual lifestyle choices and with consideration to fairness among various types of households and related trends in other countries.

- Revise customs in the workplace, home and community

Call for the revision of customs in the workplace, home and community which may lead to gender-based prejudice.

- Improve social infrastructure that reflects the perspectives of both female and male citizens

Reflect the perspectives and needs of all citizens in national planning, urban planning, regional planning, environmental conservation and other areas, from the perspective of improving social infrastructure to the point that it is premised on a diversity of lifestyles. Establish equipment and facilities for everyday living, develop new technology, commodities, housing as well as communications technology, and build up information systems which will make it easier for women and men to jointly participate in the workplace, family and community. At the same time, appeal to local governments and private companies to take similar action.

Responsible authorities: Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Justice, related ministries and agencies

(2) Carrying out informative and educational activities to reach out to a broad sector of the public

[Basic Direction of Measures]

One of the major obstacles to the realization of gender equality is gender role stereotypes that have formed in the minds of people over long periods of time. Therefore, promotional and educational activities are positively promoted in order to broaden recognition that gender equality is an issue deeply related to people's lives and to firmly establish an awareness of the equality of women and men, and of respect for human rights. Develop a campaign that reaches out to a broad sector of the public, with special attention to reaching men and young women, while cooperating with organizations that exert a major impact on gender equality, including local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business circles, mass media, and educational organizations.

[Concrete Measures]

- Conduct informative and educational activities using various media

Conduct informative and educational activities with the goal of deepening awareness of gender equality, firmly establishing gender-sensitive perspectives, and revising all customs and practices in the workplace, home and community. Conduct these activities in cooperation with local governments, NGOs and others on various occasions (e.g., United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, Human Rights Week, Rural Village Women's Day, Women's Week and Equal Employment Opportunity Month), making use of a wide variety of media, including print, video and the Internet.

Formulate a familiar logo and slogan that encourages familiarity with gender equality and the establishment of a day or week that provides a specific time for people to reflect on a gender-equal society.

- Conduct informative and educational activities in cooperation with various organizations

Promote efforts involving the general public toward creating a gender-equal society through promotional and educational activities, as well as exchanges of information and views with all members of society through the activities of the Liaison Conference for the Promotion of Gender Equality, which is comprised of representatives of various organizations, such as specialist groups, women's organizations, economic organizations, the mass media and educational organizations. In addition, conduct cooperative efforts with local governments and NGOs to expand awareness of this issue through the holding of meetings, events and other fora focusing on various subjects at the national and local levels.

Encourage municipalities to declare themselves gender-equal cities, while continuing to support cities which have done so, in order to enhance measures related to gender equality at the municipal level.

Responsible authorities: All ministries and agencies

(3) Strengthening legal literacy

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Efforts must be made to promote "legal literacy" to enable women to obtain accurate information on their guaranteed legal rights and on measures to take in the event of an infringement of those rights.

[Concrete Measures]

- Publicize relevant laws, ordinances and treaties

Effectively publicize an easily understandable summary of the content of domestic laws and ordinances and international treaties profoundly linked to the human rights of women.

Provide information on consultation services and relief facilities in the event of an infringement of a woman's rights, while giving special consideration to children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, foreigners and any others who cannot easily obtain relevant information.

Responsible authorities: Prime Minister's Office and related ministries and agencies

(4) Collection, organization and provision of information related to gender equality

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Collect, organize and provide statistical information, etc., that makes it possible to objectively ascertain the conditions of women in order to have basic data available when incorporating the gender equality perspective into all policies. This requires attention to the fact that unpaid work, the majority of which is carried out by women, is not sufficiently understood in quantitative terms, leading to an under-appraisal of the role played by women.

[Concrete Measures]

- Enhance statistical surveys

Study to determine what statistical information would make it possible to objectively ascertain the conditions of women, and efforts should be made to collect, organize and provide such information toward the creation of a gender-equal society. Evaluate the design and dissemination of results of statistical surveys and, as necessary, make revisions from a gender-sensitive perspective.

- Promote the quantitative evaluation of unpaid work

Conduct studies and research on policies to promote a quantitative understanding of unpaid work, while considering the best way to evaluate that work in society.

Evaluate child and adult care services -- a major field of unpaid work that is carried out primarily by women in Japan -- that are unpaid (non-market sector) and those that are paid (market sector) and establish statistics on relations between the use and cost of those services of an adult care/child care as a "satellite account."*

Responsible authorities: Management and Coordination Agency, Economic Planning Agency, related ministries and agencies

* Satellite Account: While maintaining the core system of SNA (System of National Accounts), this additional account was created in order to provide information that enables systematic and integrated analysis of the activities in areas of great social interest (e.g., environment, culture, education, family/child care, social guarantees, travel, research and development, and development assistance) with economic activities.