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Published by: National Economic and Development Authority

Country / Region: Philippines

Report: Determinants of Female Labour Force Participation in the Philippines

04 October 2019

The labour force participation of women in the Philippines reached a new all-time low in 2018, dropping to 46% —the lowest in South East Asia—from 49 to 50% in the past years.

A new study released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Determinants of Female Labor Force Participation in the Philippines, has identified the reasons for the decreased participation of Filipino women in the local workforce. Among them are culture as reflected in the patriarchal family structure, stereotyped gender roles and religion; the high cost of commuting that reduces take-home pay; and heavy traffic, which lessens time available for family and home care.

Key Findings and Recommendations:

  • Marriage and childbearing are associated with a significant decline in the female labour force participation, especially for the 25 to 29-year-old cohort. More patriarchal family structures reduce a woman’s employment rate by 8 to 13 percentage points.
  • A review of educational learning materials and storybooks in early childhood to promote gender equality is recommended. Extended paternity leave and additional parental leave will give husbands a fair share of caring for their babies. Stronger implementation of laws governing access to childcare services in government and support for bills requiring daycare facilities in the private sector will be needed.
  • Narratives indicate the desire of mothers with young children to engage in telecommuting work. The study cites the need to strengthen the enforcement of Republic Act 11165, or the Telecommuting Act, which allows employers to offer staff the choice to work from an alternative workplace.
  • Labour force participation rates of women are consistently lower than those of men across all levels of education. The effect of tertiary education on increasing labour force participation is significantly stronger for women than for men. The attainment of a secondary or higher level of education does not increase the labour force participation of men. This highlights the importance of investing in the education of women toward the attainment of a college diploma.
  • Protestants and other religious affiliations are the most likely to be employed, while Muslims are the least likely to be economically active. The study recommends countering discrimination in the workplace.
  • Data revealed a higher absorptive capacity of women workers by the services and manufacturing sectors, while it found a disproportionate representation of women in industries that require more cognitive skills than physical strength. There is a need to spur investments in both the manufacturing and services sectors, and to eliminate barriers to women’s participation in their preferred occupation.

The results of the study highlight the need for policy reforms to counter stereotyped gender norms and workplace discrimination, such as extended paternity leave and stronger enforcement of the Telecommuting Act.

Source: NEDA Official Website

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