Plan for Gender Equality 2000

4. Building Partnerships in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Villages

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Women account for 60 percent of the agricultural workforce and contribute enormously to the stimulation of agriculture, forestry and fisheries as well as rural villages through participation in product processing and community activities. Despite their important role, however, women are not duly recognized for their contributions and are not making advances in the way of participation in policy decision-making due to stereotypes and customs regarding the roles of women and men which remain firmly entrenched in such regions. For this reason, it is necessary to take steps toward the building of a society where women can plan their own lives, be evaluated for their contributions fairly, feel confident and fulfilled in their work, home and community lives, and participate as equal partners with men. Effective efforts must be made toward this end, including the setting of concrete indices and targets and studying of progress toward those goals.

(1) Reforming awareness and actions in all fora

In order to realize a society where the talents of those in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, whether women or men, are fully displayed and evaluated fairly, and a partnership is established for participation in policy decision-making, there is a need to promote a reform in awareness and action, including maintaining independence as individuals and the correction of stereotypes at home and in the community of rural villages, as well as customs, practices and actions based on those stereotypes. To this end, it is important to carry out activities to educate women and communities in agriculture, mountain and fishing villages.

[Concrete Measures]

- Maintain independence as individuals

Conduct educational activities that target members of the home and community in rural villages to enable women living in those villages to freely choose how they want to live, and plan and realize their own ways of life.

- Revise gender role stereotypes

Conduct educational activities for the elimination of customs and practices based on gender role stereotypes in rural villages, including the promotion of participation by women in community policy decision-making, and the understanding and participation of men in housework, child care and family care.

- Foster and encourage public support

Encourage broad public support toward participation by women and men as equal partners, through such activities as the Rural Women's Day.

- Accurately investigate the real condition of women in production

Provide information on: the work conditions of women, including housework; the conditions necessary for women's participation in society; differences in male and female awareness; other research; and progressive case studies aimed at reforming awareness and actions. In addition, design statistical surveys and methods to analyze the results so that it is possible to accurately investigate the role played by women.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

(2) Increasing participation by women in policy decision-making processes

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Reflecting the importance of the role played by women in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, measures must be taken in the future to dramatically increase participation by women in all decision-making situations concerning regional production.

[Concrete Measures]

- Increase participation by women in policy decision-making processes

Realize full membership of women in Agricultural Cooperatives, Forest Owners' Cooperatives and Fisheries Cooperatives. In order to reflect the will of women in the management of such organizations, promote the appointment of them to committee member and director level positions and encourage their participation in decision-making. Study the participation by women directors of land improvement districts and women committee members formulating policy on regional development projects.

- Develop and fairly evaluate women's talents

Provide training for women to develop the necessary abilities to fully participate in regional policy decision-making. Encourage certification of Certified Female Farmers, etc., in order to ensure the regional community properly recognizes women's vocational abilities, leadership skills in the community, etc.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

(3) Improving the economic status of women and improving work conditions/environment

[Basic Direction of Measures]

There is a need to improve the economic status of women, improve their working environment and clarify their working conditions, through the distribution of profits and forming of assets commensurate with work, and the strengthening of entrepreneurial activities.

[Concrete Measures]

- Improve the economic status of women

Promote the widespread use of family business agreements, and enhance the content of those agreements to ensure women are fairly evaluated for the roles they fulfill and to enable them to secure income/form assets commensurate with their work contributions. Promote the incorporation of agricultural management with consideration to the status of women, support the entrepreneurial activities of women, and dissemination of knowledge on inheritance, finance and taxes.

- Improve technical and management skills

Implement training and exchanges for women that enable them to acquire knowledge as well as technical and management skills which are matched to their respective levels since most women get involved in agriculture, forestry and fisheries as a result of marriage to their spouses, and their knowledge and experience related to production technology and management varies from one individual to the next.

- Establish conditions for a comfortable work environment

Improve working conditions in agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries to ensure that women are able to work safely and comfortably, e.g., promote safety, develop labor-reducing technologies, make working hours more appropriate, inspect/improve working environments, and ensure days off.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

(4) Creating an environment conducive to the lives and activities of women

[Basic Direction of Measures]

There are various women in rural villages. Some work in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, while some are involved in community social activities. In terms of life-cycle stages, some are having babies/raising children, while others are in the prime of their lives and others in their later years. To ensure that all these women truly feel happy residing in such villages and are able to live their various lives without being forced into stereotyped roles, the creation of an environment conducive to the lives and activities of these women should be promoted.

[Concrete Measures]

- Build a labor force adjustment system that supports independent activities

Enhance community facilities and services for child care and family care and promote educational activities targeting the home and community to ensure they can be easily used to enable women to engage in these industries as well as a variety of social activities without such excesses since women working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries often bear an excessive burden both in terms of production and household duties. Promote the enhancement of various helper systems and the formation of a labor force adjustment system.

- Establishing a comfortable living environment

Build communities that fully utilize the rich natural environment and scenery and establish a beautiful, comfortable environment for working and living to promote the stable development of rural village communities and to conserve their environments, while enabling a lifestyle that takes advantage of the special qualities of such regions.

Promote the understanding of rural villages through the utilization of regional resources (living techniques, culture, natural environment), and develop human resources, especially women, who support them.

- Build a women's network

Promote the building of broad regional networks among women in order to develop active regional communities in rural villages.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

(5) Establishing conditions where the elderly can lead active, secure lives

[Basic Direction of Measures]

In rural villages, there is a strong belief that care of the elderly (e.g., parents, spouse, spouse's parents) is a woman's job and there is a strong resistance to using family care services, etc. As a result, women in these villages often take on these family care tasks in addition to their agriculture, forestry and fisheries work, housework and child care duties. Furthermore, these women are often elderly themselves, which makes the task of women even greater.

There are other realities that prevent elderly women from achieving independence, e.g., they are usually unpaid family workers and cannot secure economic independence when they grow old. Further, men rely on women to do housework and other daily tasks because of their stereotypes about gender roles.

In this light, there is a need to establish an environment where women and men living in such villages can securely enter the golden years on an equal footing.

[Concrete Measures]

- Establish a structure to support the lives of the elderly

Appeal to women and youth organizations of agricultural cooperatives, fisheries cooperatives, etc., to promote volunteer activities such as safety checks, meal services, and shuttle services to public facilities. Promote human resources development related to nursing systems for the elderly, including home helper development through agricultural cooperatives, etc.

- Promote activities of the elderly

Promote the formulation of a vision for the elderly in regional areas and create opportunities for them to remain active in order to develop regional communities where the elderly, taking advantage of the unique characteristics of rural villages, are able to sustain lifelong employment in accordance with their abilities and desires, and establish a living environment conducive to the elderly both in terms of "hard-ware" aspects such as barrier-free* facilities and "soft-ware" aspects such as activities to help the elderly.

- Secure independence for the elderly

Improve the economic independence of women and clearly lay out the working conditions/environment by clarifying the working conditions of women through family business agreements that ensure appropriate compensation for work and a guaranteed living allowance for the elderly, and by women holding separate bank accounts.

Inform women of the agricultural pension scheme, which has been revised to offer more opportunities for women in agriculture to enroll, and encourage such enrollment by women in order to promote stability for the elderly and to modernize family agricultural management. Publicize the purpose and content of the national pension system -- a basic pension add-on system established for the purpose of providing stable retirement for women and others working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Conduct various courses and other enlightening activities to promote the independence of elderly men.

*Barrier free: The removal of barriers to community living for people with handicaps

Originally a construction term, "barrier free" implies the elimination of split levels and other physical barriers in buildings, but is also used in the broader sense of removing social, systematic and even mental barriers that make it difficult for persons with disabilities to participate in society.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries