Women still constrained by gender roles in PH: World Bank study

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2023 01:04 PM

MANILA - A World Bank study said that while Filipino women have been successful getting positions in upper management, more women are still trapped in low skill, low wage work. 

This has forced more Filipino women, skilled and unskilled, to seek opportunities abroad, according to the just launched World Bank study titled Philippine Jobs Report: Shaping a Better Future for the Filipino Workforce.

"On the average it looks like the Philippines has achieved gender equality. On average male and female outcomes kind of look more or less similar,” said World Bank Senior Economist Yoonyoung Cho. 

But she also added that “the middle skilled female workers are not so present. There is a huge missing middle.” 

“On the lower end of the skill spectrum, there are a lot of women who are in elementary occupations, and there are a lot more women who are earning less than minimum wage. There are a lot more women who are constrained by social norms and care work. This environment provides incentives for female workers seeking employment abroad,” she continued. 

These workers need to be given better opportunities domestically, she said. 

The World Bank said in 2019 about 30 percent of high skilled workers were women, while less than 20 percent were men. Meanwhile there were 11.9 million women who were not in employment, education, or training compared to just 3.3 million men. 

In terms of labor force participation the latest data, up to date as of January 2023, show the female labor participation rate at 54 percent, versus the male labor force participation rate of 75 percent. This may also be an indication that Filipinas are still restricted to unpaid housework or family care.

Hans Leo Cacdac, Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment at the Department of Migrant Workers said even highly skilled women workers are migrating in search of better job opportunities abroad. 

"There are middle east countries which are thought of as destinations of domestic workers. But actually we are also seeing an increase or an even bigger share of skilled workers in those countries,” Casdac said. 

The World Bank study however also noted that working abroad no longer requires an actual, physical departure from the archipelago. Filipinas can continue to migrate to jobs abroad, and to jobs in business process outsourcing or even the digital gig economy.