fresh no ads
Economic opportunity: the bridge for true inclusivity and equality |

Lifestyle Features

Economic opportunity: the bridge for true inclusivity and equality

Jing Castañeda -
Economic opportunity: the bridge for true inclusivity and equality
Face mask-clad pedestrians cross a road in Manila on Sept. 12, 2022.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

The call for gender equality grows louder; and while there are wins for us to be proud of, there are still significant obstacles ahead of us, waiting to be overcome. 

As we celebrate Women's Month, it is timely to revisit the milestones that our society has achieved when it comes to addressing the gender gap, and at the same time we must also account for what else needs to be addressed to make significant progress. 

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) affirms that our efforts are bearing fruit. In the GGGI's 2023 report, our country is the 16th out of 146 countries--taking the lead in Asia--when it comes to gender parity. Notably, our 99.9% parity rating in educational attainment of women and men is worth acknowledging and maintaining.

The report, however, points out that women's income comes up short at only 72% of what men make, despite having "full parity in senior officers and technical workers." Overall, with factors such as economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, and others considered, we have achieved only 79% parity according to the index.

Evidently, there remains much work to be done in addressing the gender gap. 

But amid the challenges, I remain thankful for the people and groups committed to this very cause. It is truly a blessing to work with individuals who share your advocacy, which is an opportunity I look forward to whenever National Women’s Month arrives.

Oxfam Pilipinas leads the call Dapat All Equal

This month, I once again had the chance to work with Oxfam Pilipinas as they launched Dapat All Equal, in collaboration with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and Eastwood City – a campaign underscoring a collective call to action for increased financial support and economic opportunities from both the public and private sectors to bridge gender disparities.

Oxfam Pilipinas belongs to the select list of organizations I am most excited to work with. Every collaboration becomes an occasion to let our shared passion for women empowerment take the lead and deliver positive change. 

Arms linked as collaborators and partners in women empowerment and gender equality. Dapat All Equal!
Oxfam Pilipinas/Geraldine Hoggang

Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo emphasized the need for a unified front involving the government, private sector, and civil society. 

In her words, "advancing gender inequality is everyone’s responsibility," urging a paradigm shift, inclusive programs, and increased investment to dismantle barriers to gender equality.

The campaign pinpointed the economic empowerment of women as a crucial battleground. Erika highlighted the undervaluation of unpaid care and domestic work, pressing for universal social protection and support for women-led enterprises. Alarming statistics also reveal that women spend up to 13 hours daily on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to men's eight hours.

Personally, the economic empowerment of women is a cause close to my heart, as the grim effects of economic inequality are sad truths I can attest to. In my work as Program Director of ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata 163, across a significant number of cases we had to cater to, was a common – too common – occurrence of wives and children enduring abuse from patriarchs, as these victims are financially dependent on their abusers. These women and children-victims believe that they must bear cruel behavior or else they’ll live in poverty. 

Oxfam Pilipinas’ plea, together with PCW and Eastwood City, extends to addressing gender-based violence (GBV), with a call to augment investment in prevention programs. Last year, GBV was at the center of Oxfam’s campaign, and it is assuring to know that this remains a key component of their newest Dapat All Equal efforts.

Child marriage emerges as another battleground, with the Philippines ranking 12th globally for the highest rate. Maria Josefina Balmes, the Deputy Director for Operations at the Philippine Commission on Women, underscores the need for a multi-sectoral approach to counter this menace. 

Indeed, a society shackled by gender stereotypes only deepens the difficulties for women and girls trying to break free from the cycle of gender-based violence.

Philippine Commission on Women Deputy Director for Operations Maria Kristine Josefina Balmes gave us a situationer on gender equality in the Philippines during the Dapat All Equal campaign launch in Quezon City.
Oxfam Pilipinas/Geraldine Hoggang

Disaster impact is not gender neutral

Amid the worsening climate crisis, the campaign underscored the importance of the most marginalized sectors, particularly women, in finding climate-resilient solutions. To shed light on what true equity is in disaster risk reduction and management, the Office of Civil Defense was also invited to share their insights.

Dir. Edgar Posadas, the Spokesperson for the Office of Civil Defense, reaffirmed a commitment to addressing the gendered impacts of disasters. 

He underscores the need for better financing mechanisms, integrating gender mainstreaming interventions into policies and programs to ensure a more equitable response. As Director Posadas put it, “the impacts of disasters are not gender neutral.” 

Financial vulnerability, exacerbated by a lack of literacy, leaves women susceptible to the compounding effects of climate change, conflict, displacement, and food insecurity.

“The reality that women are one of the most at risk, calls on us to further push for gender-responsive (disaster risk reduction and management),” he added.

Collaborating for women

Eastwood City’s collaboration with Oxfam Pilipinas and PCW fulfills the essential trifecta of the private sector, government agencies, and non-profit bodies that is needed to ensure the success of the Dapat All Equal campaign. 

Eastwood City AVP and General Manager Denisse Patricia Malong called for a united approach for the success of this latest initiative, sharing her hopes that  the campaign becomes “a beacon to guide us towards a future where equality thrives.” 

Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo (right) and Eastwood City AVP and General Manager Denisse Patricia Malong also signed a memorandum of agreement during the campaign launch as part of their commitment to promote gender equality on National Women's Month.
Oxfam Pilipinas/Geraldine Hoggang

And while Eastwood City’s own activities for this year’s National Women’s Month are looking just as exciting, Denisse assures us that their commitment to gender equality “extends to championing equality across all genders, ensuring equitable rights and benefits for every member of our community.”

As the campaign gains momentum, Oxfam Pilipinas hopes for a fruitful resolution at the 68th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW68). 

UNCSW68, with the theme "Accelerating the Achievement of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls," will be hosted by the Philippines, and aims to leverage its role in building a just, equitable, and inclusive society. 

NGOs, including Oxfam Pilipinas, are poised to participate, amplifying the collective commitment to a more egalitarian future.

The commitment of organizations and individuals working for gender equality is not just inspiring --– their work eventually translates to innovation, establishing foundations for our advocacy to thrive on, and pave the way to the positive change we’re all clamoring for. 


Watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook and YouTube (@JingCastaneda – 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Monday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts: InstagramFacebookYouTubeTiktok and Twitter.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at

vuukle comment




Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with