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November 20, 2017

JICA President Speaks at 2017 World Assembly for Women, Emphasizes Support for Woman Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries

Political and business leaders and experts from around the world gathered for the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo from Nov. 1 to 3.

The Government of Japan has been holding the conference, which is abbreviated as WAW!, every year since 2014 to communicate policies to encourage active roles for women. The theme of WAW! 2017 is "WAW! in a Changing World." Participants' lively discussions included a conversation on support for woman entrepreneurs, a subject getting international attention. Part of this support is the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative*1 announced at the G20 Summit in July 2017.

On Nov. 1, following the opening remarks by Akie Abe, the Spouse of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and keynote addresses, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka participated in a panel discussion called “Women and Entrepreneurship.” Kathy Matsui, Vice Chair and Chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd., served as the moderator of the panel. In addition to Mr. Kitaoka, panelists included Susi Pudjiastuti, Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Minister, Republic of Indonesia and Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre.

Mr. Kitaoka began by saying that though Japan lags the world on closing its gender gap, historically it is a country where women have played active roles. He went on to emphasize that women have the potential to create businesses suited to the new era. As examples of JICA supporting woman entrepreneurs in a developing country, he talked about encouraging small businesses owned by women in the Kyrgyz Republic and improving access to funding for women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia and ASEAN countries. Finally, he said JICA is determined to continue removing barriers to women demonstrating their potential and making social progress, and it is also committed to supporting entrepreneurship by women.

That morning, Mr. Kitaoka also met with Pramila Patten, the U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who was in Japan to participate in WAW!. They discussed initiatives to abolish sexual violence in conflicts.

On Nov. 2, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono gave the overall conference opening remarks, in which he talked about assistance for human trafficking countermeasures in the Mekong Delta as representative of the Japanese government's initiatives in the fields of gender equality and the empowerment of women. This was followed by seven sessions, including a round table on "Women, Peace and Security." Closing remarks were made by Seiko Noda, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, Minister in charge of Promoting Women's Active Participation and Minister appointed by the Cabinet Office.

On Nov. 3, a WAW! special event was held by the World Bank and the government of Japan. In his opening address, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced the case of entrepreneur Lim Porty. She started a business through a program administered by JICA to support entrepreneurs*2 and is working to solve the problem of poverty in rural areas of Cambodia. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the U.S. President, gave a special speech emphasizing the importance of economically empowering women.

Based on the "Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment" of the Japanese Government, JICA will continue its comprehensive measures toward gender equality and the women’s empowerment.

*1 Abbreviated We-Fi. It was established at the World Bank. The Japanese government announced a US$50 million contribution.
*2 Offered at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center.

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