Thursday, 29 October 2009

Philippines continues to be among the best in gender equality

Don Gil K. Carreon

THE PHILIPPINES continues to be among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of promoting equality among the sexes but this year it fell three places to the 9th as other countries closed the gender gap faster, a World Economic Forum study showed.

In a statement posted on its website, the Geneva-based group said the Philippines lost ground in the Global Gender Gap Index for the first time in four years but remained the leading Asian country in the rankings.

The index -- an assessment of how opportunities and resources are divided among men and women are 134 countries representing 93% of the global population -- was topped by Iceland, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Joining the Philippines in the top 10 were South Africa, Denmark, Ireland and Lesotho.

The report said Philippine gains in political empowerment continued but this was partially offset by a drop in labor force participation as well as perceived wage equality.

The report lauded South Africa and Lesotho, which jumped 16 and six spots, respectively, to sixth and 10th.

Yemen was last, preceded by Chad, Pakistan, Benin and Saudi Arabia.

Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Centre for International Development at Harvard University and coauthor of the study, said more than two-thirds of the 115 countries covered since 2006 had improved their overall scores, but noted that some continued to lose ground.

Laura Tyson, professor of Business Administration and Economics, University of California, Berkeley and coauthor, added: "the report demonstrates that closing the gender gap in all aspects of life provides a foundation for a prosperous and competitive society. Leaders should act in accordance with this finding as they rebuild their battered economies and set them on course for sustainable long-run growth."

With 1.0 being the highest score for equality, the Philippines received a mark of 0.758, bannered by a perfect grade in educational attainment, which measures female to male ratio for enrollment up to the tertiary level.

For the health and survival ratio the country scored a 0.98 compared with the global average of 0.96. The Philippines was 11th when it comes to economic participation and opportunity equality due to a high ratio between male and female professionals and legislators. But the average income for men -- $3,899 -- was still higher than the $2,394 for women.

In terms of political empowerment, the Philippines was in 19th largely for having a female head of state. It was, however, only 99th and 53rd, respectively, for the male-female ratios in ministerial positions and the legislature.

The World Economic Forum said data for 13 of the 14 variables used were taken from publicly available indicators issued by organizations such as the International Labor Organization, United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization. --

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