Philippines fails to improve ranking on equal opportunities for women
This is lower than the 81.3 average score the Philippines got in the previous year.
The STAR/Michael de Guzman, File

Philippines fails to improve ranking on equal opportunities for women

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has failed to improve in giving women equal economic opportunities, with the pandemic reinforcing gender inequalities among countries, according to the World Bank.

In its latest report “Women, Business and the Law 2021,” the World Bank said the Philippines scored 78.8 out of 100 on the WBL 2021 index, which  analyzes laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies across eight indicators – mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.

This is lower than the 81.3 average score the Philippines got in the previous year.

Only 10 economies – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden – scored 100, which means that women are on an equal legal standing with men across all areas measured.

Last year, the average global score was 76.1 out of 100, indicating that the world has achieved about three-quarters of good practice legislation as measured by the indicators.

For the Philippines, it scored 100 in three indicators (workplace, pay and entrepreneurship), 75 each in pension and mobility, and a lower 60 for marriage, parenthood and assets.

“Although much progress has been made over the past 50 years, global gender equality had not yet been achieved when crisis struck in 2020. COVID-19 has directly and disproportionately jeopardized women’s social and economic capabilities,” the report said.

“Because they make up the majority of health, social service, and unpaid care workers, women are uniquely susceptible to the effects of the pandemic. In addition, women continue to earn less than men for the same work, as well as face a higher risk of violence in their homes,” the World Bank said.

The World Bank noted that women have only three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men.

In addition, the World Bank said the pandemic has contributed to a rise in both the severity and frequency of gender-based violence. Preliminary research shows that since early 2020, governments introduced about 120 new measures including hotlines, psychological assistance, and shelters to protect women from violence.

The World Bank, however, emphasized that governments still have room to enact measures and policies to address the problems.

“While it is encouraging that many countries have proactively taken steps to help women navigate the pandemic, it is clear that more work is needed, especially in improving parental leave and equalizing pay,” said Mari Pangestu, managing director of World Bank Development Policy and Partnerships.

“Countries need to create a legal environment that enhances women’s economic inclusion, so that they can make the best choices for themselves and their families,” she said.

The report suggested that there is an urgent need for reform because the pandemic has widened the long-existing gender pay gap.

Reforming laws to achieve greater gender equality should remain a priority as governments enact measures to recover from the shocks imposed by the crisis, the World Bank said.

“Women need to be fully included in economies in order to achieve better development outcomes,” World Bank Group president David Malpass said.

“Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the center of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

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