Changing Status of Women

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The enhancement of women’s capabilities and opportunities to make choices is an important element of human development. The gains attained by the Philippines in increasing women’s access to education and jobs in certain sectors, and participation in elections as voters and candidates have been significant.

Gender literacy rate differentials have narrowed. By 1990, women’s literacy rate stood at 93.2 percent, only slightly lower that men’s literacy rate of 94 percent. And, while fewer women enrolled in high school, 36 percent more women than men completed college (see Table 4.1). Women’s health has also improved with the expansion of health care services, improved sanitation, and increasing availability of modern medicine. They live longer (66 years vs. men’s 62 years), and exhibit lower mortality rates during childhood and adulthood than men. Women’s economic contributions have also become more visible. The labor force participation rate among women rose from 40 percent in 1956 to 48 percent in 1990.

One of the initial steps that must be undertaken is to develop a system of gender-disaggregated data gathering, collection, processing and dissemination at the agency/firm, local and national levels to improve awareness and understanding of gender issues.

Employed women have higher educational backgrounds compared to their male counterparts. In polity, women have also taken a more active role. The number of women candidates running for public office has risen in absolute and real terms. More women are in government bureaucracy as civil servants and in non-government organizations as advocates of various causes.

While status of Filipino women have improved over the past few decades, they are still confronted by many challenges. In education, the fields pursued by Filipino women are in the traditional areas of care-giving and teaching. The incidences of anemia and malnutrition remain high, and factors related to pregnancy continue to be a major cause of death for women of child-bearing age. Women have persistently suffered a higher rate of employment than men. Many women are in low-paying and low-skilled jobs. Women’s supportive role in the home has carried over to the labor market such that they are relegated to home-like jobs and are not readily accepted in top leadership positions in public and private offices (see Table 4.4). In terms of income, women generally receive lower remuneration than men. This despite the fact that women, both in urban and rural areas, put in longer hours than men in labor market and home-making activities. The value of unpaid non-market productive activities of women is about 40-60 percent of the gross national product.

A comparative study of male and female-headed households showed that, in general, the latter spent less on food, tobacco/cigarette, alcohol and clothing, and spent more on real property, household durables (kitchen appliances, furniture), education, medicine, personal effects, payment of loans and bank deposits. Female-headed households also paid more income taxes, real property taxes, vehicle and direct taxes. This indicates that female heads of households tend to be more concerned about the longer material security of their families. Their incomes also tend to redound to the benefit of their households and their communities.

Women face many hazards in the home and the workplace. Work-related hazards include physical injury, ergonomic problems, exposure to poisonous substance and unhealthy working conditions. Subcontracting, home-working and other types of decentralized, unregulated work arrangements have contributed to the safety and health risks faced by women workers. In addition, women are vulnerable to sexual harassment and domestic violence. More than 11,000 women overseas contract workers complained of sexual harassment in 1994. One to six out of every 10 women face physical, sexual and psychological assaults in the home. A study of 1,000 documented cases of family violence between 1994 and 1996 showed that 98 percent of the victims were women with an average age of 23 years old. The most common perpetrators were women’s male spouses or partners.

While there are efforts from the government, academe and non-governmental organizations to address these gender issues, much still need to be done. One of the initial steps that must be undertaken is to develop a system of gender-disaggregated data gathering, collection, processing and dissemination at the agency/firm, local and national levels to improve awareness and understanding of gender issues. There is also a need to assess the economic policies and programs in terms of their gender-responsiveness and gender-based impact, and change the deeply ingrained assumption of gender neutrality in the thinking of academics, policy advisers, lawmakers and public officials.

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A. Cover
B. Cover Page
C. Preface, Foreword 1 and 2
D. Research Team and Acknowledgements
E. Abbreviations and Contents
Chapter 1 – The Changing Status of Women
Chapter 2 – Human and Gender Development 1990-1994
Chapter 3 – Social and Human Priorities and Budget Allocation Patterns Yardsticks for Governance
Chapter 4 – Economic Development and the Well-Being of Women
Chapter 5 – Household Expenditure Patterns Among Male-and Female-Headed Households
Chapter 6 – Hazards in a Women’s Workplace
Chapter 7 – Breaking the Silence: The Realities of Family Violence in the Philippines
Chapter 8 – Women and Governance: An Update
Technical notes, Appendix