Women Empowerment in the Philippines – Manila Bulletin


Senator Sonny Angara

the Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has long been a barometer of the extent to which a country or economy respects equality between men and women, particularly in terms of economic participation and opportunity; education level; health and survival; and political empowerment.

And from the report’s first release in 2006 until today, the Philippines has consistently been among the top performers. According to the latest iteration of the report (2021), we ranked 17and out of 156 countries worldwide,1st in ASEAN, and 2n/a in the Asia-Pacific region, behind only New Zealand which ranks 4and globally.

These high rankings are often highlighted each March when the country officially celebrates National Women’s Month. And with good reason, because it is in this area that we are truly a world leader – or, as President Duterte put it in a recent statement, “a shining beacon for women’s empowerment and gender equality. worldwide”.

Other studies have highlighted how we lead in this way. For example, in the Women in Business Report by Grant Thornton International Ltd., the Philippines has consistently ranked first in terms of the number of female executives in leadership positions in mid-sized companies. In fact, we ranked 1st in 2020 and 2021. And although we have slipped to 3rd in 2022, we again outperformed our regional peers with 39% of leadership positions held by Filipinos, compared to an average of 30% in the Asia-Pacific region and 37% in ASEAN.

There is a similar data story when it comes to innovation and intellectual property. An infographic recently released by the WEF, based on 2021 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) data, showed that the Philippines was second in terms of the share of women among international patent applicants. Only Cuba with 53% exceeded the 38% we recorded.

Indeed, compared to many other countries, women in the Philippines seem to be more empowered, occupy more important roles in society and enjoy equal footing with their male counterparts. This is not to say, however, that there are no gender gaps or biases that negatively affect the Philippines.

Consider the World Bank’s Women, Business and Law Index which assesses whether laws, policies or regulations limit or enable economic opportunities for women. According to the 2022 report, the Philippines scores perfectly on laws and policies that affect women’s work, pay, and entrepreneurship. That is, there are no legal barriers preventing women from having a job, getting equal pay or starting a business. In fact, this is confirmed by the comprehensive women’s rights framework enshrined in RA 9710 or Women’s Magna Carta, which we co-authored while still members of the House of Representatives.

The same index, however, showed that when it comes to freedom of movement, marriage constraints, laws affecting women working after having children, gender differences in property and inheritance, and laws affecting the amount of a woman’s pension, several reforms are needed to enshrine women’s equality in law.

The pandemic has also laid bare some gaps and disparities that have sometimes been glossed over amid the country’s glowing gender equality rankings. In December 2021, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published a study showing that women were among the hardest hit sectors due to the effects of Covid-19 on labor markets. Citing data from the second quarter of 2020, the report showed that while women made up 40% of the workforce before the pandemic, they accounted for up to 44% of jobs lost during this period. And that’s largely because women were overrepresented in the job sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as retail services and tourism. The closures have also negatively impacted the livelihoods of up to 3.5 million women who work in the informal economy as sari-sari shop owners, roadside vendors and carinderia operators. .

Meanwhile, it has been well documented that the incidence of domestic violence, which strongly favors women, has increased throughout the pandemic – a trend that has also been observed in the Philippines. A March 2021 survey by the Population and Development Commission (POPCOM) and Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that one in four adult respondents cited harmful acts in various forms as among the most pressing issues. women throughout the pandemic. Eleven percent listed physical abuse as a major concern, while seven percent mentioned sexual abuse and seven percent emotional abuse.

These are sobering reminders that while the Philippines has much to celebrate, much more needs to be done to empower women in our society, maintain their equality before the law, and promote their well-being.

E-mail: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @sonnyangara

Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years – nine years as a representative from the solitary district of Aurora and 6 as a senator. He has drafted and sponsored over 250 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.



Mara R. Wilmoth