Philippines Has Lowest Female Labour Participation In Southeast Asia
Oct 02, 2019

Women in jobs or seeking work in the Philippines made up less than half the female working-age population over the last two decades, mainly owing to social expectations that they will care for homes and children, according a study commissioned by the National Economic and Development Authority.

Filipinas are likely to quit work in their peak childbearing age of 25 to 29 years, the study found. This results in the lowest female labour participation rate of just 46 per cent of the entire female workforce, the lowest in Southeast Asia.

In comparison, Laos’ female labour participation at the end of 2018 stood at at 77 per cent, Cambodia’s at 75 per cent, Vietnam’s at 73 per cent, Singapore’s at 61 per cent, Thailand’s at 59 per cent, Brunei’s at 58 per cent, Indonesia’s at 52 per cent, Malaysia’s at 51 per cent and Myanmar’s at 48 per cent, according to business intelligence portal Global

“Stereotyped gender roles of ascribing to women the primary responsibility of taking care of homes and to men, as the provider of the family, undermine the labour force participation of women,” the study noted, adding that such a low rate could eventually hurt economic development and hold back the progress of women’s rights in the Philippines.

Remedial measures could range from laws for employers to offer daycare, boost paternity leave beyond seven days now, or bring religious beliefs, civil status and pregnancy status within the scope of anti-discrimination law, the study said. Extending paternity leave would also give husbands a fair share of caring for their babies, it remarked, while employers should allow more telecommuting work to boost female participation in the workforce.

A 2018 study by McKinsey Global Institute found that having more less advantaged, less-educated women in the labour force would add at least $40 billion to the Philippines economy by 2025. It also said that the Philippines has one of the highest numbers of women in leadership and professional roles, but most of them are from wealthy backgrounds and can afford pricey child care.