Japan’s developed economy and sophisticated financial markets mean that women enjoy a favourable economic environment with unhindered access to credit and financial instruments—96.8% of women have accounts at financial institutions, according to the World Bank.
Japan’s infrastructure and technology are best-in-class: it is home to one of the world’s most sophisticated disaster early-warning systems.
In considering the needs of female internally displaced persons (IDPs), the 2011 Disaster Management Basic Plan requires the participation of women in running emergency shelters, and the participation of women in disaster-preparedness training.
Legislation to foster “family-friendly” policies in the workplace has facilitated the participation of women in the labour force, who make up 48.5% of workers. Attitudes are shifting of late: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set a goal of raising the ratio of female managers in the workforce to 30% by 2020.
Bhutan has an advantage over other South Asian countries for disaster resilience in attitudes pertaining to women’s access to finance and employment opportunities. Gender is specified as a cross-cutting theme in the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2008-13).
Early warning systems exist for glacial lake outburst floods and those from rainfall, but these remain localised and are not linked to national or international systems.
Government sources report that over 60% of land title registration deeds are held by women, given the customary practice of matrilineal inheritance, though tradition disadvantages women in the south of the country, where patrilineal inheritance is the norm.
Bhutan’s performance in the Social category is bolstered by high enrolment rates for girls in secondary school (76.1%) and low levels of child malnutrition (12.8%).
The majority of women rely on informal financing for access to credit and are the primary beneficiaries of microfinance schemes in Sri Lanka—they make up 92% of all borrowers. According to the World Bank, 19.4% of women have taken loans from financial institutions while 67.2% have accounts.
Mobile cellular subscriptions have a penetration rate of 95%, and significant improvements have been made to the early warning system in the wake of the devastating 2010 Indian Ocean tsunami
in the form of a dedicated Disaster Management Centre.
Women make up 5.3% of the police force, and while women’s and children’s desks are now located
in some police stations, no serious attempts have yet been made to increase the number and influence of female officers, despite high levels of violence and violence against women (VAW) in society.
While women face fewer restrictions on mobility compared with some other South Asian countries, low female participation in economic activities is in some part a result of women’s traditional roles as child-bearers and for domestic work, and a lack of access to opportunities and information pertaining to other work.
In 2012, women comprised some 98.5% of microfinance borrowers. Access to formal bank accounts is limited for both men (30%) and women (21%) in Nepal, while only 9.6% of women have loans at financial institutions.
Gaps in communication mechanisms— for example, just 36.4% of the population has access to television—has hindered the development of an early warning system that is integrated on national and community levels.
Women are required to be represented on central and local disaster management committees under the 2009 National Strategy on Disaster Risk Management (not yet passed into law).This policy calls for DRR training to be provided on a priority basis to women and other marginalised groups.
Patriarchal attitudes remain predominant in Nepalese society and have a bearing on women’s inclination to enter the workforce: half of unemployed women in Nepal cite childcare and domestic duties as the reason for not pursuing work opportunities.
Some 93.7% of microfinance borrowers are women in India, and such schemes remain the key channel by which Indian women have access to credit. There are a number of regional financial institutions that have designed programmes and financial instruments specifically for women, such as Gujarat’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) bank.
An early warning system has been established and monitoring systems are generally in place, though communication between the national and the local level can be variable across states.
High-profile cases of sexual violence have raised public awareness on the issue of violence against women (VAW), leading to calls for new legislation: parliament passed a package of laws in 2013 to deter sexual VAW.
While women have gained more visible representation and autonomy in past decades, gender inequality is still pervasive in India, as exemplified by low secondary school enrolment rates for girls (66.3%) as opposed to boys.
There is a very limited microfinance network in the Maldives. A number of government initiatives are in place to improve access to credit for women, but there is scant evidence of female participation in finance programmes or the availability of financial instruments to women.
Extensive communications networks (television, radio and mobile penetration) for this small
population boost its infrastructural capacity for disaster resilience, though issues around
information dissemination across the country’s many islands still pertain to its early warning system.
Key documents or plans do not include provisions for the needs of female internally displaced persons, nor is women’s inclusion specified in disaster preparedness training. Similarly, measures to
address violence against women (VAW) are not included, despite VAW being experienced by an estimated one-third of women in 2007.
Islamic tradition serves as the basis for current gender relations, and while physical mobility does not appear to be highly restricted, domestic responsibilities have had implications for women’s participation in the workforce: only 21% of female household heads were economically active in 2006.
Women represent the majority of microfinance borrowers–90.1%— but their access to credit at both formal and informal institutions remains limited given the requirements for collateral. This is reflected in only 22.3% of loans being made to women at financial institutions, and women owning just 34.9% of bank accounts in 2012-13, according to the World Bank.
The country does have many aspects of an end-to-end early warning system, with improvements shown in the success of the response to more recent cyclones.
Planning documents provide for the needs of female internally displaced persons (IDPs) in that they encourage the building of separate facilities where possible and for the inclusion of women in the management committees of cyclone shelters. But security and privacy concerns continue to deter some women from shelters.
Socio-cultural norms restrict a large proportion of women to domestic responsibilities and limited access to education and health. In 2011 only 54.5% of girls were enrolled in secondary school
Of the large South Asian countries in the index, women’s access to microfinance schemes in Pakistan is among the lowest, at around 54.7% of borrowers. Women make up just 1.9% of those taking out loans at financial institutions and 3% of those with accounts in 2012-13.
Pakistan does have an early warning system in place, but dissemination systems and integration between national and community levels remain less developed than in other countries in the index, in part owing to the low penetration of television (60.2%) and radio (10.9%).
There are dedicated emergency response units in the police force, where women play a largely secondary role. Only 0.6% of police officers are female in Pakistan as of 2013, according to the Network for Improved Policing in the South Asia, and they face severe restrictions on their duties and roles.
Traditional practices have a bearing on the mobility of women in many communities, as exemplified
by the low enrolment rates of girls in secondary education—30.9%—indicating that movement
remains highly restricted for the majority of women.
For full country summaries and sources see the accompanying
white paper and downloadable Excel spreadsheet.