6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where we are?

school girls
Filipino females consistently outperform males in terms of education in all levels. (Photo: UNICEF Philippines)

In education and literacy, Filipino females have fared consistently better than males. Since 1990s, females maintain higher rates of cohort survival and completion rates than males in all levels of education. There has also been gender disparity (in favor of females) in terms of participation rates in both secondary and tertiary education. However, it should be noted that females and males have relatively equal participation rates at the elementary level. One of the most cited reasons behind this gender disparity is that Filipino males tend to get out of the education system because they either need to work to help augment their household income or they had lower motivation in going to school than their female counterparts.

In recent years, women have become more empowered through political and economic participation. Women are becoming more visible as leaders and thus more involved in policy decision making, both at the national and local levels. There are also more female workers who have been deployed abroad to work for the welfare of their families. More often than not, however, they tend to accept jobs that are usually not commensurate with their educational attainment such as domestic workers, caregivers, entertainers, clerical staffer or factory workers.

Beyond these, the Government also recognizes the other dimensions in gender equality, and thus added a number of indicators, which are discussed below.

  • Male-to-female ratio: The male-to-female population ratio in the Philippines is 101 to 100. However, Filipino women live longer than men, with a life expectancy of 72.5 years compared to 67.2 years for men;

  • Literacy: Women also have a slight edge over men in simple literacy rate (94.3 vs. 92.6 percent) and functional literacy rate (86.3 vs. 81.9 percent);

  • Gender Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM): Based on the 2006 Human Development Report, the country’s GDI showed an improvement from 0.751 in 2002 to 0.761 in 2004. Likewise, GEM increased from 0.48 in 1999 to 0.542 in 2004. However, these gains do not necessarily translate into positive measurable changes in the roles and status of women in the country;

  • Gender-based violence (GBV): a recent national survey estimated that around 2.2 million Filipino women or nine percent of all women ages 18 years and above, experienced violence inflicted by their partners. In the past two years, around 70 percent of child-abuse victims were girls and about 40 percent of cases were sexual abuse and exploitation;

  • Trafficking: The Philippines is recognized as a source, transit, and destination country for cross-border trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor. It is estimated that between 60,000 to 100,000 children and over 100,000 women are trafficked (internally and externally) annually. Since the passage of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, the number of cases filed for investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice had steadily increased from 12 in 2003 to 114 cases in 2005. There had so far been eight convictions since 2003;

  • Access to income and productive resources: The last decade had seen an increase in the number of women in the labor force with 50 percent of all women working compared to 80 percent of men. In terms of quality of work, 64 percent of those in higher wage-and-salary jobs and 67 percent of own-account workers were men. Among the employed women, 50 percent were wage-and-salary workers, 33 percent were own-account workers and 17 percent, unpaid family workers.

    While women have a large presence in the growing informal economy, they have limited benefits and protection, such as social security and health care. Moreover, their economic contribution was largely invisible. For instance, as a country with the highest number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) worldwide, women and men were almost equal in number. The national economy and a quarter of the country’s families were highly dependent on OFW remittances. However, the average cash remittances of women were only 60 percent that of men. This is indicative of the status of women OFWs in lesser skilled and often unprotected lower paying jobs. This renders women vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking and abuse. Of particular concern is that 72 percent of newly-hired OFWs in 2005 were women, indicating lack of opportunities locally for decent work and livelihood to provide for themselves and their families.

  • Civil and political rights: The Philippine Constitution upholds the right of women to sectoral participation in national and local legislative bodies. The Philippines is one of the few countries with a woman President. Four out of 24 senators are women. Women dominate the civil service at the technical level (74%), but are still largely outnumbered by men in decision-making positions (35%). Women account for only 20 percent of total positions in the judiciary. In the 2004 elections, mean participation rate of women was 18.2 percent at the national and local levels of both executive and legislative bodies.
Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament