Japanese Experts Call for Gender Equality at meeting in Hyogo/ By Yuki Matsuoka

A structure to achieve creative reconstruction: gender in reconstruction

The Hyogo Prefectural Government’s (Hyogo) reconstruction initiatives after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE) were based on the stated philosophy of male-female joint participation supported by the Hyogo Prefectural Gender Equality Promotion Center. These initiatives strove to promote female participation in the reconstruction programmes by encouraging female citizens to participate in decision-making opportunities and through relevant empowerment activities.


During the post-earthquake process, Hyogo experienced challenges such as the shortage of relief goods for female citizens and infants, a need to create a female-friendly evacuation shelter environment, and instability of female employment.

Coping Strategy

(1) Female participation in decision-making opportunities

In Japan, it is not commonplace for female citizens to participate in an organization’s decision-making opportunities. Hyogo appointed women as the Director General of the Reconstruction Bureau and Chief Executive Officer. It appointed a female officer as a member of the Hyogo’s Disaster Management Council, which is a body in charge of making disaster countermeasures policy.

(2) Gathering and release of female citizens’ opinions

Four months after the Earthquake, Hyogo established the Gender Diversity Society Creation Promotion Council, and released the following recommendations in consideration of citizens’ opinions in the disaster-affected area: “Implementation of Government Policies for Gender Diversity”; “Stimulation of Female Officer Promotion”; “Female Opinion Reflection in Community Development”; “Female Participation in Resident Association Activities.”

(3) Environment improvement of evacuation shelters

Hyogo introduced an initiative to improve the evacuation shelter environment by introducing female-friendly features. It arranged for the evacuation shelter operation manual to stipulate requirements such as the securing of privacy for females citizens and the availability of a baby feeding and changing area.

(4) Female empowerment

Immediately after GHAE, Hyogo began to implement skill training courses, career resumption seminars for female citizens, female job creation seminars (entrepreneurship support program), and coupled with various courses thereby assisting female citizens in obtaining employment and in participating in reconstruction and community development initiatives.

(5) Building a structure for female citizens to participate in a disaster management project

This is indispensable for disaster management and reconstruction initiatives to offer female-friendly features and have female participation. Given the importance of making such features available and putting relevant rules in place during ordinary times, Hyogo held a workshop in various locations across the prefecture. Hyogo prepared a handbook highlighting a collection of recommendations comprising disaster management ideas and inventions devised from a mother-child perspective. In another step, it compiled a programme with data on implementation details and procedures for an interactive disaster management for encouraging relief service providers to hold seminars in a proactive and continuous manner.


Efforts to apply detailed improvement and practical ideas from a female perspective, provided disaster relief services that met disaster victims’ needs. Female citizens including disaster victims actively participating in the reconstruction initiative resulted in huge progress on creative reconstruction programmes in Hyogo.

Measuring Success

For the disaster management measures as a whole, it is necessary to promote initiatives to utilize female participation and viewpoints as well as life recovery of disaster victims.

Potential for Replication

While the social status of female residents differs in countries and regions, incorporating their opinions into a disaster management programme and having them participate in programmes is indispensable for the local community to achieve higher quality reconstruction, given that about a half of the entire population is female. It is necessary to encourage female residents to participate in ways that go beyond the scope of the applicable system and established customs.

Contact Information

Mr. Masahiko Murata – Director, Research Department

Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI)

1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan

Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082

Mail: murata1@dri.ne.jp


Mr.Naoki Nakatsu – Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division,

Disaster Management & Planning Bureau,

Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department

5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan

Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914

Mail: naoki_nakatsu@pref.hyogo.lg.jp