Filipinas have better access to opportunities: global index

by Raphael Vincent Bosano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2013 12:46 AM | Updated as of Mar 13 2013 08:48 AM

Navy Commander Luzviminda Camacho

Philippines in top 10 of 2012 Gender Gap Index

MANILA, Philippines - Women in the Philippines have better access to opportunities as their male counterparts compared to any other country in Asia.

This is according to the 2012 Gender Gap Index released by the World Economic Forum earlier this year.

The report, assembled by experts from the University of California in Berkely, Harvard University and the WEF, identified the Philippines as the only country in Asia that has closed the gender gap in terms of opportunities to education and health.

It is also among the top 20 countries where women are given economic participation and political empowerment. Combining the results of all subindexes measured, the country holds the 8th spot worldwide.

Filipino women have indeed diversified and are now playing more important roles in national development. In the Armed Forces alone, several of them are now making marks and setting records.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Miyuela set a record in 2007 for being the first female in the frontline who was wounded during an encounter with a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

She recalled her experience during their attempt to rescue Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, the Italian missionary who was held hostage by the group, as the turning point in her career.

"It was during that time that I realized that danger is something I have to face especially in this profession. Women can pretty much serve in the frontline as men," she told ABS-CBN news.

Marine Captain Maria Rowena Miyuela

Similarly, Navy Lieutenant Jovy Iringan is also the first female instructor pilot in the service. Although she admits that it is far from an ideal job of a woman, it gives her the opportunity to help others in far-flung areas.

She adds that being the first female instructor pilot allows women to be viewed differently especially by those who are unfamiliar with the nature of serving in the military.

"It's a glamorous job but in a different way. It's very fulfilling when you are seen differently, that you are able to help people in a big way," Iringan said.

Navy Lieutenant Jovy Iringan

Recently, another Navy personnel made history by being the first female officer who commanded a warship.

Commander Luzviminda Camacho is still on a high whenever she recalls her experience of controlling the helm of a World War 2 vessel.

She explained that being a mother added to the challenge but was never viewed as a reason for her not to carry out her duties.

"It's very different when you are trusted to ensure national security. Of course your family will always be important, but as members of the military, you also have to prioritize your duties to the country," she said.

While the Philippine Commission on Women (PWC) acknowledges that the country is doing well in bridging gender disparities, they remain hopeful that women will be more involved in economic and political platforms.

"Women play a very important role especially in moderating peace. Based on research, when women act as negotiators in any discourse, it is more likely that these talks would progress and achieve results," explained PCW official Anette Baleda.

The country has long been open to women in the workforce. For the PCW, what remains to be seen is women's consistent and increased participation towards national development.