Gender issue least of RP’s problems

Published by rudy Date posted on February 4, 2009

THE Philippines’ gender equality and women empowerment have improved despite sporadic reports of discrimination, a joint study of the Asian Development Bank and other multilateral institutions reveals.

“There is no doubt that the Philippines compares favorably with other countries in the region when it comes to gender issues. But the study identifies a number of issues that need further attention,” said Karin Schelzig Bloom, a Social Sector specialist at the Asian Development Bank.

In the study “Paradox and Promise in the Philippines: A Joint Country Assessment,” the country is reported to have enacted laws that protect and promote women’s rights; however, the focus must now be on implementation.

“The legal and policy framework has not yet delivered the intended benefits for women as extensively and effectively as hoped,” the report said.

Some issues that need attention include reproductive health and decent employment conditions both at home and abroad, it added.

“Access to reproductive health services is hampered by high costs, inefficiency in the health system, and social and cultural barriers,” Bloom said. The country’s maternal mortality rate is 162 per 100,000 live births.

In assessing economic empowerment, the report said there is potential for women in new industries, but some of the old problems persist. Modern workplaces, such as in electronics, information technology and call centers, employ more than a million young workers, mostly women. But reports of discrimination such as sexual harassment, difficulty in obtaining maternity leave and bias in promotion have persisted.

“The labor market is also unable to absorb all job seekers, leading many women to seek jobs abroad. Women make up an increasing share of overseas migration, often working as nurses, caregivers or domestic helpers. But migration comes at a cost. Illegal recruitment, trafficking, exploitation, and forced labor are all occupational hazards,” it added.

The joint assessment was led by Asian Development Bank with collaboration from the Canadian International Development Agency, the European Commission, United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and the United Nations Population Fund. –Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter, Manila Times

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