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Published by: Investing in Women

Country / Region: Philippines

Philippines Country Context Paper

26 January 2018

This country context paper provides an overview of women’s participation in the labour market and as entrepreneurs in the Philippines, and identifies key barriers to women’s economic empowerment in the Philippines.

The paper provides a snapshot of the many factors that either facilitate or inhibit women’s economic empowerment in the Philippines, focusing on: laws and their implementation; social norms; access to markets and productive assets; business and work; and political representation. The report also considers the key actors and institutions that are driving or resisting policy reforms that promote gender equality in the world of work, and provides recommendations for addressing the underlying causes of gender gaps.


The Philippines is ranked 7th amongst 144 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. It has ranked in the top ten since 2006 and is the only East Asia and the Pacific country to achieve this rank. Its high ranking is based on closing the relative gaps between women and men in access to health, education, the economy and politics. Women’s labour force participation rate in the Philippines is 52% compared to 81% for men, and there is wage equality for similar work. The Philippines has one of the highest proportions globally of women in senior management – at 39%, and at senior occupational levels the gender pay gap is low at just 8% for professionals and 2% for managers. The paper also conveys the commitment of the Philippines government to women’s economic empowerment, demonstrated by its Development Plan for 2017-2022 that contains targets for women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship.

While removing all barriers to women’s economic participation in the labour market is important, investment is equally vital. Investing in women is one of the most effective means of increasing equality and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The Philippines has been identified as having the most conducive business and regulatory environment for women-owned MSMEs, with women comprising 45% of the owners of micro, small and medium enterprises in the Philippines. However, the paper also discusses how social norms around women’s family and care responsibilities can sometimes contribute to the failure of women’s MSMEs in the Philippines.


  • Introduction
  • Part one: The legal and regulatory frameworks for women’s economic empowerment and their implementation
    • Laws providing an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment
    • Key national institutions relevant to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment
    • Enforcement and implementation of laws and regulations
  • Part two: Social norms and unpaid household and care work
  • Part three: Access to assets, finances and markets
    • Economic cost of gender inequality
  • Part four: Business culture and practices
  • Part five: Women’s visibility, collective voice and representation
  • Part six: Summary of key barriers and strategies to address them
    • Key barriers
    • Proposed strategies to address key barriers
      • Law reform to strengthened enforcement of the legal and regulatory framework
      • Supporting initiatives for promoting women’s entrepreneurship
      • Addressing persistent gender stereotypes in society that lower the status of women

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