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Focus on Women and Men in the Philippines: Closing the Gender Gap?

Focus on Women and Men in the Philippines: Closing the Gender Gap?

Jan 14, 2012

Focus on Women and Men in the Philippines — Closing the Gender Gap?

by Mary Ann Manahan

“We are proud of the gains in gender equality in the Philippines. We are number one in the world in terms of gender parity in literacy and in health.”

–Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s pronouncement during the Luncheon with the Soroptimist International of the Philippines Region, May 2008.

The World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines 9th (out of 134 countries) in its 2009 Global Gender Gap Index. The report’s Index “assesses countries on how well they allocate their resources and opportunities among male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities”.  The index covers economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, political empowerment, and basic rights and social institutions.

For the first time in four years, the Philippines slipped from its 6th position but remains the leading Asian country in the rankings. The Nordic countries’ continue to dominate the top four—Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, with African countries such as South Africa (6th) and Lesotho (10th) making great strides in closing their gender gaps.

At home, the National Statistical Coordination Board released an updated fact sheet on the State of Women and Men in the Philippines . From the figures, it appears that we are closing the gender gap, specifically, in the areas of family income and expenditure, health and nutrition, social welfare and development, and education. However, we have yet to achieve gender equality in terms of (1) work and economic participation, with only 49.3% of women in the labor force, compared to their men counterpart, 78.8%; and with the proportion of unpaid family workers still higher for women than men, 56% and 44%, respectively.; (2) access to agricultural land—only 32% of women have Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), a land title/instrument provided under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, compared to men farmers, of 68%.; and (3) public life, especially in terms of proportion of occupied elective positions—on the average for every 7 men in elected positions, there are only 2 women. Except for the Senatorial positions (and also President and Vice President), the proportion of women in occupied elective positions only ranges from 14% to 23%.

Overall, the official statistics show that the Gender Development Index, a measure of human development that is adjusted between men and women and patterned after the Human Development Index framework, with components of health, education and income, has slightly improved from .59 in 2000 to .61 in 2003. Further, women are generally ‘happier’ than men with a Happiness Index of 76.5% (compared to 68.3%) and have an advantage over men in terms of benefitting from development, with the Gender Equality Ratio of 1.1 in 2003 (compared to 1.08 in 2000).

Table 1: Gender and Development

Gender Development Index (GDI)



Gender Health Index 0.6842 0.7018
Gender Education Index 0.8310 0.7989
Gender Income Index 0.2542 0.3254
Overall GDI 0.5898 0.6087

Gender Equality Ratio (GER)

Health 1.0329 1.0248
Education 1.0979 1.0583
Income 1.117 1.2299
Overall GER 1.0820 1.1008
Happiness Index 76.5 68.3

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board Fact Sheet, Updates on Women and Men in the Philippines, March 1, 2010, www.nscb.gov.ph

Table 2: Key Socio-Economic Indicators: Population, Education, Health and Nutrition, Work and Economic Opportunity, Family Income and Expenditure, and Agricultural Land Ownership

Women Men Reference Period/Source
Population 46.7 M 47.2 M 2010/NSO
Projected Life Expectancy at Birth 73.1 years 67.6 years 2010/NSO
Functional Literacy Rate (%) 86.3 81.9 2003/FLEMMS/NSO
Basic Literacy Rate (%) 94.3 92.6 2003/FLEMMS/NSO
Maternal Mortality Rate (per 100,000 births) 162.0 2006 FPS/NSO
Labor Force Participation Rate (%) 49.3 78.8 October 2009 LFS/NSO (preliminary)
Unemployment Rate 6.7 7.4 October 2009 LFS/NSO (preliminary)
Proportion of Unpaid Family Workers (%) 56.0 44.0 October 2009 LFS/NSO (preliminary)
Proportion of Poor Women (%) 30.0 Not applicable 2006/NSCB
Proportion of Poor Households by Sex of Household Head (%) 16.3 29.3 2006/NSCB
Average Annual Income by Household Head PhP 197,629 PhP 167,013 2006 FIES/NSO
Average Annual Expenditures by Household Head PhP 164,240 PhP 143,262 2006 FIES/NSO
Average Annual Savings by Household Head PhP 33,390 PhP 23,750Q 2006 FIES/NSO
No. of Holders of CLOA 537,320 1,130,737 2009/DAR

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board Fact Sheet, Updates on Women and Men in the Philippines, March 1, 2010, www.nscb.gov.ph


 (Published in Focus on the Philippines March 2010: http://focusweb.org/oldphilippines/content/view/391/52/)

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