Plan for Gender Equality 2000

9. Supporting Life-long Health for Women

[Basic Direction of Measures]

A woman's body is endowed with the capability for pregnancy and childbirth. Therefore, she is, throughout her life cycle, confronted with health challenges that are different from those of a man. At the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in September 1994, the concept of reproductive health/rights was advocated and is recognized today as an important human right of women. The focus of reproductive health/rights consists of the freedom to decide if, when and how often one would like to have a child, a safe and satisfying sex life, safe pregnancy, and healthy childbirth and upbringing of children. In connection to these, a wide range of questions concerning sex and reproduction which a woman may face in her life are discussed (e.g., health problems at puberty and menopause).

While promoting the spread of the reproductive health/rights concept throughout society, comprehensive measures based on this perspective should be taken to support the health of all women throughout their life cycles.

(1) Spreading awareness of reproductive health/rights

From the standpoint of promoting a widespread awareness of reproductive health/rights throughout society and increasing recognition of the importance of measures to support women's health throughout their life cycle, measures should be promoted so that women and men share a strong interest in these problems, obtain accurate knowledge and information, and deepen their awareness of the problems.

[Concrete Measures]

- Promote public support for measures to address women's health problems

A woman's body is endowed with the capability for pregnancy and childbirth, and therefore she is, throughout her life cycle, confronted with health problems that are different from those of a man. Create an environment in which the awareness of the importance of these problems is enhanced among men and throughout society and active measures are taken to address them.

- Improve guidance on sex in school education

Provide guidance on sex in school education so that children: acquire basic knowledge matched to their level of development; appreciate the value of human life; understand the opposite sex based on the spirit of respect for humanity and equality between women and men; and adopt desirable behavior.

- Enhance opportunities for sex education

Develop a healthy understanding of sex as part of the learning activities that target parents as well as youth in communities. Incorporate information on reproductive health/rights in providing parents with learning materials on home education.

Promote opportunities for interaction with infants at homes for infants and day care centers. Provide learning opportunities related to sex and respect for life for boys and girls at puberty.

- Respect social functions of mothers

Use every opportunity to promote an awareness of the fact that mothers have an important function in society and should be protected by society as a whole, and that this should not be used as a reason for discrimination against women.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Labor

(2) Advancing measures to maintain and promote women's health throughout the life cycle

[Basic Direction of Measures]

- A health education and counseling structure that emphasizes reproductive health/rights and enables women to take proper care of themselves in accordance with their health conditions should be established. At the same time, the health of women should be maintained and promoted throughout their life cycles by building appropriate systems matched to the issues which a woman may face at puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and old age.

[Concrete Measures]

(a) Enhancing health education and counseling support to maintain and promote health throughout the life cycle

- Enhance health education and counseling guidance for women

Educate women on how to maintain and promote good health throughout their lives, paying attention to the fact that a woman's body is endowed with the capability for pregnancy and childbirth, and that therefore she is, throughout her life cycle, confronted with health problems that are different from those of a man. Improve this system to enable women to comfortably discuss various issues concerning their health (e.g., contraception, pregnancy, sterility, sexually transmitted diseases, gynecological troubles, and complications during menopause).

- Comprehensively study measures on woman's health, etc.

Promote studies and research on women's health throughout their life cycles and comprehensively study the further enhancement of related measures from the perspective of reproductive health/rights.

(b) Supporting women's health during pregnancy and childbirth

- Provide maternal and child health services from pregnancy to childbirth

Promote measures to provide health services in the daily life of a woman from the time of pregnancy to childbirth, including health checkups, health guidance/counseling, and medical care assistance.

- Enhance expert counseling services on sterility

Enhance expert counseling services for people who want to get pregnant but find themselves unable to do so, enabling them to make decisions themselves based on accurate, appropriate basic information.

- Enhance medical care during the birth cycle

Enhance comprehensive medical care services and promote research to ensure the health of mothers and children during the birth cycle, which exerts a major impact on the life and bodies of mothers and children.

(c) Support for the promotion of women's health during adulthood and old age

- Support the promotion of health during adulthood and old age

Promote health examinations and guidance with an emphasis on alleviating complications during menopause and preventing obesity during middle/old age to enable women to lead long, healthy lives without being committed to a bed. Promote healthy eating habits and appropriate exercise habits.

Enhance and strongly promote health initiatives in order to maintain health in old age (e.g., health education, health guidance, health examinations, functional training, and visitation guidance).

- Take measures to prevent uterine cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis

Disseminate accurate information in order to prevent maladies peculiar to women, such as certain cancers and osteoporosis. Promote further examinations for uterine cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Promote the extension and education of examination methods for breast cancer since personal examination is possible.

- Promote sporting activities throughout the life cycle

Develop and establish community sports clubs where women can comfortably take part in the sports of their interest, enabling women to remain athletically active in activities appropriate for their age, strength and purpose throughout the life cycle. Actively promote the establishment of sports facilities, recruitment and training of sports instructors, and various other sports-related initiatives.

Responsible authorities: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Welfare

(3) Promoting measures to address problems that threaten women's health

HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases exert a profound impact on women's health so comprehensive measures for proper understanding and widespread awareness should be promoted.

Drug abuse not only adversely affects the physical and mental health of the abuser, but can rock the very foundation of society as a cause of broken homes, crime, etc. In the case of pregnant women, drug abuse has been found to have a negative impact on the fetus. Furthermore, with the recent concern about the increase in drug abuse among young women, prevention measures should be strengthened.

(a) Countermeasures against HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases

- Promote comprehensive countermeasures against HIV/AIDS, from prevention to treatment

Conduct educational activities and promote comprehensive measures, including the enhancement of medical care structures and research and development on medical treatments, to give the Japanese people an accurate understanding of HIV/AIDS to prevent spreading and to promote properly informed behavior toward AIDS patients and those carrying the HIV virus.

Promote education on HIV/AIDS at schools because basic to these measures is that the Japanese people have a proper understanding of HIV/AIDS in order to ensure children have a correct understanding in line with their developmental level and act in a manner based on the spirit of respect for humanity. Enhance community learning activities related to the HIV/AIDS problems and promote accurate understanding.

- Promote countermeasures against sexually transmitted diseases

Enhance measures related to prevention, health examinations, consultation, medical treatment and so on in addition to promoting an accurate understanding and spreading awareness of sexually transmitted diseases.

(b) Promoting measures to prevent drug abuse

- Cut off the drug supply and eradicate the demand for drugs

Encourage close cooperation among concerned organizations to destroy illegal drug-dealing organizations, promote coastal control and cut off drug supply lines, as well as promote measures to eradicate demand, e.g., arresting end users (abusers).

- Promote measures to prevent drug abuse by girls

Step up efforts to crack down on drug abuse at the supply source and to continue guidance activities based on cooperation among concerned organizations to identify abusers at an early stage, bring them into custody, and prevent them from abusing again considering that minors being taken into custody for abusing stimulants and other drugs are on the rise, and half of the abusers are girls.

- Create a social environment that is intolerant of drug abuse

Create a social environment that is intolerant of drug abuse by promoting a widespread, correct understanding of the impact of drugs and actively promoting publicity and educational campaigns.

Promote education, in particular, for the prevention of drug abuse at schools so that school children have a correct understanding of the relationship between drug abuse and health and that they never engage in drug abuse at any time during their lives. Increase learning opportunities at the community level to promote a correct understanding of drug abuse, and to prevent it.

Responsible authorities: National Police Agency, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Welfare