The Symposium on "Disaster Reconstruction Efforts and Gender Equality"

On June 11, I participated in the "Disaster Reconstruction Efforts and Gender Equality" symposium organized by the Science Council of Japan (SCJ). For more details on the symposium, please see this link:

For its 6th emergency appeal, SCJ put together a statement on "Rescue, Support, and Reconstruction Efforts from a Gender-Sensitive Perspective."

The event was a great success. Already a week beforehand, the number of persons wanting to attend exceeded the venue's capacity, and entry on the day of the event was by waiting list only. It's clear that there are lots of people who agree that a gender-sensitive perspective is critical in the reconstruction efforts.

The symposium featured talks on international trends in disaster responses, updates on the circumstances of reconstruction efforts, messages from local elected officials in the disaster areas, and reports on current measures and efforts. The symposium ended after participants adopted a "Demand for a Thorough Incorporation of Gender-Sensitive Measures in the Response to the Greater Eastern Japan Disaster."

Some of the points that came up over and over again were:
  • Gendered stereotypes and expectations become very apparent in times of disaster (ex. the people preparing food at the evacuation centers are mostly women; many female part-time workers have been fired)
  • Women play a significant role in rescue, support, and reconstruction efforts (ex. using their local networks, women have been able to spearhead and contribute to many different aid efforts)
  • Gender-sensitive perspectives in disaster prevention need to be incorporated across the country (ex. having more female members on local disaster prevention boards would allow for the emergency stock-piling of supplies for women, etc.)
It's indispensable not only to incorporate such perspectives into our response toward the current disaster and to encourage more women to participate in decision-making, but also to implement these changes on a countrywide scale.