Women and the Economy
By Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos
A woman’s engagement in activities enhancing the economy creates a ripple effect for everyone’s gain, expanding the overall participation for the nation’s progress.
The goal of advocating for women’s economic empowerment is to realize their rights while advocating for gender equality. It aims to empower women in their innate right to participate equally in existing markets and have access to and control over productive resources while given opportunities to decent work.
Part of making this a reality is considering and acknowledging that women have control over their own time, lives and bodies. Women should have increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels— from their importance in the household up to national and international institutions.
Women’s participation and access in activities contributing to the thrive of an economy can bring in a myriad of advantages.
According to United Nations (UN) Women, women economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversification and income equality in the labor force, resulting in thriving of businesses as well. For one, increased opportunities for employment and leadership for women has shown to increase organizational growth, resulting to more productivity, enhanced wellness and work-life balance among employees.
A UN report states that it is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all scope of organizational performance. This paves the way for its subordinates to effectively perform their duties as well.
UN Women adds that empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are keys to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These two aim to uphold gender equality and promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all. Women’s economic empowerment is also vital in achieving that goal of ending poverty, on food security, and on ensuring health and reducing inequalities.
Education and training for women
To help in boosting economic empowerment, increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment is one of the keys.
Women must be given access to education and training to keep up with the always-changing digital pace, explore income-generating opportunities while sustaining their health and well-being.
The mandated sustainable development goal directed for women is a vision to end gender differences in the world of work.
Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men, UN Women reveals. Of 189 economies assessed in 2018, 104 economies have existing laws hindering women from working in specific jobs. Meanwhile, over 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace. Worse, in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from seeking jobs.
In 2017, global unemployment rates for men and women stood at 5.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively. This is projected to remain relatively unchanged going into 2018 and through 2021.
Women are more than twice as likely than men to be contributing family workers. From the latest available data, the share of women in informal employment in developing countries was 4.6 percentage points higher than that of men, when including agricultural workers, and 7.8 percentage points higher when excluding them.
The wage gap Even when women are given opportunities at work, it is still evident that the gender wage gap continues to challenge women workers.
The gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent. This means that women earn 77 per cent of what men earn, though these figures understate the real extent of gender pay gaps, particularly in developing countries where informal self-employment is prevalent.
But while women experience this wage gap, they still bear the responsibility for unpaid, domestic work. Mostly unrecognized, women’s unpaid work can account between 10 per cent and 39 per cent of GDP if it is given a monetary value.
In the Philippines, gender differences in the world of work is one of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW)’s focused initiatives.
In a labor force survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2014, while majority of women construct the professional field by 66.34 percent, still, most women experience wage gap, unpaid work, and differences in job descriptions.
The Magna Carta of Women (MCW) seeks to eliminate discrimination among women, including gender difference in the work sphere.
“Generally, women do not control family properties and decision-making rights on the use of income, further limiting opportunities to break the poverty cycle,” PCW states in its policy for Women’s Economic Empowerment.
MCW, the PCW states, is deemed crucial in putting a halt to this scenario.
With focus on the poor, MCW promotes gender equality which is vital in fighting poverty. It seeks to provide resources and economic opportunities equally available for both men and women.
While these opportunities are yet to cover all Filipino women from remote places and marginalized sectors, these give a positive outlook in the far horizon.
The opportunities in the economy for women shall see great results and can stand from generation to generation.
As American politician and known feminism mover Hilary Clinton declared, “When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits.”