The Philippines had been hailed as one of the countries embracing gender equality. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 of the World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines as the 16th on the index among the developed Scandinavian countries. The International Labor Organization detailed that the Philippines is the 5th in having the highest share of managers who are female.
In the effort of the Philippines to fight against gender inequality, the world might learn a thing or two from the archipelago in Southeast Asia.
Matriarchy in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, matriarchy is ingrained in its culture.
In my own home, my mother is the breadwinner of our home, not my father. She would leave our home early for work and come home when the sun is down. She would provide for the family and be the one buying me and my siblings' groceries. Apart from that, she acts as the family’s treasurer, handling the money.
A Brief History of Gender Equality in the Philippines
The Philippines always believed in gender equality. According to the Philippines: A Country Study, written by Ronald E. Dolan, gender equality was never questioned, even before the Pre-Spanish Colonial rule in the country. During the Spanish Colonial, women became the treasurer of the family. From the same source, it also stated that both education and literacy levels in 1990 were higher for women than for men.
According to the La Mujer Indigena - The Native Woman of Lorna S. Torralba Titgemeyer, the early Filipinos always valued equality, not just in husband and wife, but in the upbringing of their children. Quoting Titgemeyer, she stated that “The early Filipinos gave equal importance to both male and female offsprings”. It was further expounded that the country before the colonial rule gave equal opportunity to men and women, from education to inheritance.
The same source tells that the practice of primogeniture in the pre-colonial Philippines concerning inheritance regardless of gender allowed women to succeed their fathers as rulers of tribes. This shows that long before the people from the country saw power equally, in both sexes.
The high position of a woman is never unusual in the Philippines. Government seats, editors-in-chief, business corporation heads, all of which are positions wherein women have been in the country. In 1986, the country elected its first female president, Corazon Aquino, a champion of the country’s democracy. Even for service-oriented, such as assembly-type work employment opportunities, women flock to the workplace.
A Goal for the World
In life, all of us are born with human rights. Gender equality is a fundamental human right, thus all of us are born equally. According to the United Nations, gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and United Nations values.
For 2030, the United Nations had seventeen interlinked goals relating to social, economic, and environmental factors. The fifth of the following goals is called “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”- or in simpler terms, gender equality. According to the United Nations, gender equality is a “necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world”.
The Challenges for the Goal
The fight for equality is not just in the share of senior positions in a workplace. It is not just in gender gaps, as well. To achieve what we wanted to accomplish, violence against women and girls must also stop.
The United Nations’ fight for the SDG 5 is presented in different methods. One of which states that women must be represented fairly in pandemic-related leadership roles. According to United Nations’ global data, only 25% are represented by women in national parliaments, and only 36% are represented by women in local governments.
According to UNICEF, worldwide, girls aged 5-9 and 10-14 spend 30 percent and 50 percent more of their time, respectively, on household chores than the opposite gender of similar age. This shows that in our world, stereotyping is still prevalent.
For a jarring fact, the same UNICEF source also reported that one in every 20 adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, around thirteen million, have experienced forced sex, one of the most violent forms of sexual abuse women and girls can suffer, in their lifetime.
According to the United Nations, 58% is the proportion of female homicides that are perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member. This by itself, is a troubling statistic that the world is facing right now.
Furthermore, another statistic provided by the United Nations states that 80% is the proportion of victims of intimate partner homicides who are women and 20% is the proportion of victims of homicide who are women.
Through these figures, one must be reminded that all over the world, these harsh truths are still hindering our dream of global gender equality.
Lessons from the Global Gender Gap Report 2020
Published annually since 2006, the Global Gap Report of the World Economic Forum aims to bring light to equality and to inform the people about the gender gaps present in the world.
According to Investing in Women’s summary of the report, the Philippines remains the most gender-equal country in South-East Asia, despite falling eight places lower to the 16th. Laos is second to the Philippines among ASEAN countries at 43rd, a significant drop from ranking 26th way back in 2018.
The data continued with Thailand is next in line, lower in the rankings, slipping two places to 75th. Brunei fell to 95th with five places, and Malaysia to 104th with three places. Vietnam dropped 10 places to 87th, while Myanmar dropped to 114th place - 26 places lower than its position in 2018. Overall, for the year, a lot of countries fall above the rankings, noting the ones from the ASEAN region.
The World’s Perspective of Gender Equality in the Workplace
A workplace must always be a safe and equal space for all genders. Both men and women should be treated fairly in the workplace.
In 2019, 28 percent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women, a small increase from 25 percent in 2000, while women represented 39 percent of the world’s workers and half of the world’s working-age population.
Through these statistics, one must observe how low the amount is, and how problematic it can be. However, the United Nations also stated that over the past 25 years, there has been progress and development in reforming laws towards improving gender equality. Despite this, the struggle is still visible.
Gender Equality in the Workplace (Jordan and Philippines)
The Philippines is in 5th place, along with Asian neighbor Jordan, and countries Saint Lucia, Botswana, and Honduras are the top five countries where females are most likely to have managerial positions in the workplace. Jordan has a 62% share of managers being female. In the Philippines, it has a share of 50.5%.
Lessons for the Philippines and the World
Before the lessons, commending the Philippines for its efforts on equality is still worth noting. The country, despite the virus, still is a role model for its neighbors not just in Asia, but all over the world.
With a drop of over eight points for the Philippines, every Filipino must learn from this experience. Eight points is a large dip, and for a country to fully develop, everyone in the country should not be complacent. Gender equality, as stated earlier is a human right, and everyone must be able to enjoy the human right.
This drop in form from the Philippines shows that every country has a chance of being complacent from its values. As stated earlier, I always admired the Philippines and its fight for gender equality but comparing it to its performance over the previous report, it showed that there are tendencies wherein we would be lost in accomplishing our goals.
The first lesson countries can learn is to study its own culture. If the culture is somewhat against equality, to learn from other countries can also be a treat. In the Philippines, learning about culture and history is valuable, and seeing how the country valued women would motivate them to continuously fight for it.
The second lesson is to value these research and statistics about the positive things in the country. In these studies, one can be motivated to continuously fight for the different causes, and through these, can push the country to aim for the better.
The third and last lesson is to see these studies as a way to learn from other countries that are doing well. Learning about other cultures can lead to more fruitful developments for a country. In the end, one must not see these charts and figures as a way of competing with other countries, but a way to be a better nation, and be motivated from the ones doing proficiently.
As a call to action, every country, not just the Philippines must be able to see gender inequality as a problem towards global growth. We must teach future generations about equality, and how to value it as well. Gender equality can bring development and prosperity for a country, and its opposite can bring unrest and tension. For gender equality to be fully possible, people from different nations must be willing to cooperate and do their part in shattering the glass window.
Historical and Cultural Analysis