World Bank: Gendered social norms hold back PH economic growth

MANILA, Philippines — Gendered social norms held back the Philippines’ economic growth as it prevented more women from participating in the labor force, said a World Bank report released on Thursday.

The report, titled “Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in the Philippines: Past, Present, and Prospects for the Future,” tackled economic inequality in the country.

“While comparatively speaking, the Philippines is a high performer in gender equality globally, in 2019, women’s participation in the country’s labor force was still just 49 percent— one of the lowest rates in East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region. This was clearly a missed opportunity for economic growth and heightened prosperity,” said the World Bank.

According to the report, Filipino women generally have higher educational achievement, but in the World Bank’s 2021 survey, 75 percent of men and 80 percent of women respondents said they believed it was   a man’s job to earn money for the family.

Moreover, the World Bank found that women perform better than men in the workforce. However,  women are clustered in low-ranking and low-paying jobs. On average, women’s wages are 5 percent higher than men, but at the bottom of pay distribution, men’s daily wages are 50 percent higher than women’s.

“Women’s earning disadvantage is partly due to their desire to work in jobs that offer more flexible hours and work arrangements but offer lower returns for their qualifications,” said the World Bank.

Also, many of them are held back from productive employment opportunities by their family responsibilities and

“Closing the gender gap in the labor market offers a valuable opportunity to reduce income inequality generally in the Philippines,” it said.

This will require furthering women’s economic empowerment through policies such as supporting more flexible work arrangements, scaling up efforts to reskill and upskill women to help them secure more productive jobs, encouraging firms to expand opportunities for women who want to reenter the labor market, empowering women entrepreneurs in e-commerce, and addressing traditionally gendered norms and childcare challenges,” recommended the World Bank.

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