Speech at the Interactive Dialogue 2 of the UN Sustainable Development Summit
United Nations Headquarters, New York, the United States
Madam Klinda, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of JICA, Japan International Cooperation Agency, it is my great privilege and honor to provide remarks at this important dialogue. JICA is also a member of the International Development Finance Club, or IDFC, a network of 22 national, bilateral and regional development banks from Africa, Asia, Europe and Central and South America. Together, the IDFC members have committed around 440 billion USD in 2013 to finance a wide range of wide-ranging global development projects, including projects to promote gender equality
Since 2003, the concept of Human Security has been incorporated into JICA's development cooperation. Human Security urges us to tackle the root causes of human insecurity. As such, we have reoriented our activities to better target the most vulnerable and to work not only to free people from fear and want, but also to ensure that all people live in dignity.
Mainstreaming human security in our operations has also guided us to focus on people's capabilities. Empowering individuals allows them to develop their potential, overcome challenges by themselves, and live with dignity.
Human security is becoming even more relevant in the present era of sustainable development, as SDGs call for a comprehensive and interlinked, people-centered, context-specific and prevention-oriented approach. Furthermore, both Human Security and the SDGs promote the participation and voices of marginalized populations.
Women continue to be excluded from a range of processes, and eradicating gender inequalities is an important priority to create a more inclusive and resilient society. Women are often disproportionately affected by threats such as violent conflicts, terrorism, environmental degradation, infectious diseases and economic crises. There is no doubt that women should receive special protection. But we must avoid focusing solely on their vulnerabilities. We must embrace their leadership potential and recognize women as change agents. Incorporating women's perspectives and experiences strengthens necessary processes, ranging from recovery and reconstruction following natural disasters, to peace-building after conflicts.
Based on this belief, JICA is planning to start a new training program for 7 Asian countries that focuses on women's leadership in disaster risk reduction. This is also in immediate response to recommendations made in the Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction, announced by the Government of Japan in March of this year.
With regard to peace-building, a 2013 JICA Research Institute study found that politically disadvantaged groups perceive their level of inequality to be higher than their actual socio-economic standing.
This heightens the sense of alienation of marginalized individuals, including women, thereby disrupting the reconciliation process. Promoting the participation of women in political processes, especially in the wake of conflicts, is important in and of itself.
In addition, by correcting the erroneous perception of inequality, women can feel more confident to participate in the political process. Increased participation can lead to their empowerment and enhanced leadership roles. Achieving this will depend on the strong political commitments of local governments and all member states.
Addressing gender inequalities from a human security perspective is key to creating an inclusive and resilient society. The journey towards 2030 is one filled with hope, hope that I believe we can fulfill through collective efforts.
Thank you very much.