Gender and the Philippines Labor Market

20 August 2012 -- The Gender and Labor Market national workshop, co-hosted by ADB's Philippines Country Office, and the Regional and Sustainable Development Department (RSDD), aimed to share and discuss the outcome and recommendations of the national level gender analysis of the Philippine labor market research project, Regional Research and Development Technical Assistance (R-RDTA) 7700: Promoting Gender Equality in the Labor Market for more Inclusive Growth.

The research seeks to identify potential labor market reforms that will promote decent and expanded employment opportunities for women, which could contribute to inclusive growth.

"Decent work," as defined by the International Labour Organizations (ILO), involves opportunities for employment that are productive, deliver a fair income, and provide security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families. The research covers the Philippines, Cambodia and Kazakhstan.

The workshop provided an opportunity to obtain feedback from the participants, who came from government, various labor market agencies, academe and civil society, about the findings and recommendations of the project, which was primarily a desk-based review. The Philippines portion of the project, conducted by 3 national consultants with the support of 2 international consultants aimed to:

  • provide a gendered analysis of the Philippines labor market, government policies and legislation
  • analyze the determinants (and constraints) to the employment of women
  • identify and explore one - two market sectors in each country which could potentially be expanded or developed to promote opportunities for decent work for women
  • identify good practice examples from each DMC
  • provide legal and policy recommendations for promoting decent work for women.

Summary of presentations

Principal Country Specialist, Claudia Buentjen of ADB Philippines country office, delivered opening remarks, noting that although significant numbers of women have entered the labor market over the last decades, women's full productive potential remains untapped and the quality of their employment characteristically leaves them disadvantaged and vulnerable.

View the opening remarks.

ADB Senior Social Development Specialist (Gender) Imrana Jalal, explained the technical assistance project pointing out that the research was primarily a desk review based on what was available, but that it brought together most of what was available, into one document. Its added value was that it brought together global best practice in social and economic policy, and legislation; and country findings to see how the country measured up. She noted that the lack of detailed sex-disaggregated data in various industrial sectors continued to be a significant problem. The presentations were not able to cover all the information from the research, but would merely provide some highlights.

View the presentation.

ADB Consultant, Fiona MacPhail (Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia, Canada,) delivered a presentation on Gender Inequality in the Philippines Labor Market. The presentation reported upon the preliminary findings of the country study, noting the low participation of women in comparison to other South East Asian countries, the decline in decent work, the substantial segregation by sex and "sticky floors" for women, and the patterns of employment for women in low, middle and high skill sectors.

View the presentation.

Norio Usui, ADB Senior Country Economist, Philippines Country Office, spoke on the topic, "Taking the Right Road to Inclusive Growth: Job creation through industrial diversification". The presentation assessed the recent economic situation in the Philippines, suggested how the economy could increase its potential GDP growth rate to 7-8% and how to make growth more inclusive. Recommendations as to what changes were needed in the manufacturing sectors were also canvassed.

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Carolyn I. Sobritchea, national consultant and Gender Specialist for the Philippines, provided a gendered analysis of national government policies on employment and commented on whether they were effective. She spoke about the potential of the business processing outsourcing industry (BPO) which employed close to 800,000 people, of which about 70% were women. She argued that although this sector was not capable of employing millions of women, it was a source of relative decent work for graduates who would otherwise not be employed.

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ADB Consultant, Justice (Rt.) Robyn Layton AO, QC, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of South Australia, delivered a presentation on "Global Good Practices in Legislation and Work Opportunities for Women in Agriculture and Agribusiness in the Philippines". The Philippines' adequate legislative framework but poor enforcement record was noted. Agriculture and agribusiness were highlighted as a significant sector of great importance for women and the country due to the large numbers of women employed, the opportunity it presented for reducing poverty in rural areas, the potential for improved food security and increasing household income to sustain women and the families. The presentation illustrated the importance of women's engagement in the rice and vegetable industry and the importance of cooperatives, value chains, and micro-financing.

View the presentation.

Ma. Concepcion E. Sardana, Senior Programme Officer of the International Labor Organisation (ILO), Philippines office, spoke about problems of youth unemployment, and ILO's Decent Work program for Women. ILO is a partner in the R-RDTA research project.