In the southern Pakistani province of Sindh, additional school buildings and classrooms for girls are scheduled for construction, which are expected to provide access to education for over 6,600 students.
Japan is working to advance gender equality, alongside the governments of developing nations and a wide variety of institutions including UN Women, which offers expertise regarding gender issues. In particular, Japan seeks to empower women in developing nations with its expertise in the areas of education and healthcare management, via projects led by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
One of the problems to be solved is the low availability of education for girls. In Pakistan’s education system, for example, in many cases boys and girls go to separate schools from middle school onward. Girls’ schools in rural regions are scarce, however, forcing many girls without a school within commuting distance to discontinue their education. And even in schools with both genders, there have been cases of female students dropping out due to the lack of women’s restrooms in the schools. In the southern province of Sindh, JICA is providing grants to build schools, classrooms, and restrooms for girls to alleviate these problems. “I hope that by enabling girls to continue their education, we can expand the opportunities available to them,” explains Ayumi Yuasa of the Office for Gender Equality and Poverty Reduction of JICA’s Infrastructure and Peace Building Department.
Indonesian Maternal and Child Health Handbooks contain plenty of illustrations to make them easy for everyone to understand.
Photo:JICA/ Kenshiro Imamura
JICA is also encouraging widespread use of Maternal and Child Health Handbooks (MCH Handbooks), an idea originating in Japan. JICA is strengthening continuum of care for mothers and infants, through the use of MCH Handbooks tailored to the unique conditions of each country, in 25 countries. In addition to recording pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy, MCH Handbooks serve as a guide for childrearing. In regions where malnourishment of mothers and children is a problem, for example, the books contain extensive information regarding proper nutrition, such as “foods to eat during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period.” “Expanding the knowledge of mothers allows them to make their own judgments about the health care of their children and of themselves, which might otherwise be left to doctors and midwives,” finds Yuasa. In Indonesia, continuum of care for mothers and infants that is focused on the use of MCH Handbooks has led to a reduction of the maternal mortality rate. In light of such results, JICA is cooperating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop international guidelines for MCH Handbooks and further expand their use.
Side by side with the world, Japan will continue moving forward with these and other efforts in order to create “a society in which all women can shine.”