Local Governments Disaster Preparedness for Women and Infants to be Published; Project Aims to Improve Disaster Response

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A welfare commissioner organizes donated disposable diapers and sanitary items at an evacuation center in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, in January.

The Cabinet Office will publish the status of local governments’ disaster preparedness for women and infants on its website as early as May. By making it easier for prefectural governments and municipalities to compare their efforts, the project aims to encourage them to improve their disaster response to the needs of women and infants.

The stockpiling of supplies for women and infants, as well as the percentage of female disaster management staff, will be visualized by color-coding a map for each local government. The map will be based on the results of a survey of prefectures and municipalities conducted by the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office.

Specifically, the status of the stockpiles of sanitary products, powdered milk, baby food, disposable diapers and others will be assessed. The percentage of female staff in disaster prevention and crisis management departments for each local government, as well as the percentage of female members of disaster prevention councils that prepare local disaster prevention plans, will also be surveyed, with the results classified into four to five levels and color-coded.

The Noto Peninsula Earthquake in January highlighted the issue of a lack of disaster preparedness for women and infants, as several evacuation centers lacked changing rooms and nursing spaces.

According to a survey conducted by the Cabinet Office in 2022, 61.1% of municipalities had no female staff in disaster prevention and crisis management departments. Only 14.3% had stockpiled baby food and 0.5% had clothes for expectant mothers.

The Cabinet Office is also considering using the maps as a teaching tool for disaster education and other purposes to raise disaster awareness.