MALAYA: Pinays overworked, underpaid

March 8, 2008

FILIPINAS are among the growing number of women who are working but are mostly in low-productivity, low-paid and vulnerable jobs, with no social protection, basic rights nor voice at work, according to a new International Labor Organization report issued for International Women’s Day.

The report “Global Employment Trends for Women – March 2008” said the number of employed women grew by almost 200 million over the last decade, reaching 1.2 billion in 2007 compared to 1.8 billion men.

However, the ILO said the number of unemployed women also grew to 81.6 million from 70.2 million over the same period.

Citing results of the October 2007 Labor Force Survey, the ILO said labor force participation for Filipinas was only 36.5 percent compared to men at 63.5 percent.

“Although there are more unemployed men, many Filipino women remain in low-paid jobs at 26.25 percent with only 10.94 percent for men. In addition, women in the Philippines tend to get jobs which are low in productivity,” said ILO.

According to Linda Wirth, director of the ILO subregional office in Manila, “creating more and decent work and promoting gender equality at the workplace in the Philippines can help reduce the necessity for women to migrate and face risks entailed in overseas jobs as well as mitigate the critical skills losses in health and educational services.”

Worldwide, the female unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent compared to the male rate of 5.7 percent.

The report said “improvements in the status of women in labor markets throughout the world have not substantially narrowed gender gaps in the workplace.”

While the ILO noted a decrease from 56.1 percent to 51.7 percent from 1997-2007 in the share of women in vulnerable employment, it also said that “the burden of vulnerability is still greater for women than men, especially in the world’s poorest regions.”

Vulnerable workers are those that work as unpaid contributing family workers or own-account workers, rather than wage and salaried work.

ILO director general Juan Somavia said while women continue to enter the world’s workforce “in great numbers,” this progress must not “obscure the glaring inequities” that still exist in workplaces throughout the world.

“The workplace and the world of work are at the center of global solutions to address gender equality and the advancement of women in society. By promoting decent work for women, we are empowering societies and advancing the cause of economic and social development for all,” Somavia said.

Women workers, urban poor women, peasant women, and women professionals all led by party-list group Gabriela will take to the streets today to demand a better lot for themselves and to seek the resignation of President Arroyo who faces strong criticisms over corruption issues and a mismanaged economy.