Improving women’s access to jobs and economic opportunity

The World Bank said on Thursday improving women’s access to jobs and economic opportunity could significantly boost workers’ productivity in the Philippines and the rest of East Asia and the Pacific Region by as much as 18 percent.

In a report titled, “Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and the Pacific,” the WB says that while gender equality across the region has improved tremendously, disparities still exist in many areas, specifically in areas like the economy.

“The East Asia and the Pacific Region is vast and diverse, with large differences in economic and social progress – including toward gender equality. In some ways, women in the region are better positioned today than ever before to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from development, but much more needs to be done,” said Andrew Mason, WB Lead Economist, who discussed the findings of the study with civil society groups, representatives of government agencies, and the private sector. Mason is the lead author of the report.

“Eliminating inequality of opportunity in economic participation could increase worker productivity in the region by 7 to 18 percent,” he said.

The report shows that the Philippines has gone a long way in enhancing women’s voice both in the home and society. Filipino women have high levels of autonomy, as reflected in the control of their own savings, and have the ability to make decisions on matters like health care and household purchases. More women are climbing up the corporate ladder and are either elected or appointed to public office.

The report also shows that reflecting regional trends, Filipino women only get 76 percent of what men earn. Also, women in the Philippines and the rest of the region are more likely to work in small firms, to work in the informal sector, and to be concentrated in lower-paid occupations and sectors.

“It is precisely because of these hard truths that we are called upon to be more proactive in creating gender-sensitive policies and implementing them well in the country and the region,” said Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, in her keynote address.

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