Philippine initiatives to promote women's leadership and political participation

Various legislations have sought to promote gender equality in the bureaucracy including improvement of women’s participation and representation in decision-making bodies.  Most notable is the Magna Carta of Woman (R.A. 9710) which mandates the government to institute the following affirmative action measures so that women can participate meaningfully in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policies, plans, and programs for national, regional, and local development:

  • Empowerment within the Civil Service – Within the next five (5) years, the number of women in third (3rd) level positions in government shall be incrementally increased to achieve a fifty-fifty (50-50) gender balance;
  • Development Councils and Planning Bodies – To ensure the participation of women in all levels of development planning and program implementation, at least forty percent (40%) of membership of all development councils from the regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay levels shall be composed of women;
  • Other Policy and Decision-Making Bodies – Women’s groups shall also be represented in international, national, and local special and decision-making bodies. It shall also ensure the participation of grassroots women leaders in decision and policy-making bodies in their respective sectors including, but not limited to, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and its local counterparts; community-based resource management bodies or mechanisms on forest management and stewardship; the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) and its local counterparts; the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor; the National Anti-Poverty Commission; and, where applicable, the local housing boards.;
  • International Bodies – The State shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the opportunity of women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination to represent their government at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations:
  • Integration of Women in Political Parties – The State shall provide incentives to political parties with women’s agenda. It shall likewise encourage the integration of women in their leadership hierarchy internal policy-making structures, appointive, and electoral nominating processes; and
  • Private Sector – The State shall take measures to encourage women leadership in the private sector in the form of incentives.

Other statutes enacted to support women in governance are:

  • R.A. 7160: An Act Providing for a Local Government Code of 1991- The Local Government Code has been amended to provide representatives for women in all of the 1,600 local legislative assemblies (Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, Sangguniang Bayan and Sangguniang Barangay) nationwide. This is consistent with the 1987 Constitution recognizing women's vital role in nation-building.
  • R.A. 7941: Party List Law (1995)- The 1987 Constitution provides that there shall be party-list representatives and the women sector is to be allocated a seat therein (Art. VI, Sec. 5 [2]). Before the enactment of Republic Act No. 7941, the sectoral representative for women was appointed by the President. This law now provides for the election of party-list representatives through the party-list system including the women sector.
  • R.A. 7192: Women in Development and Nation Building Act (1992)- The Act provides guidance and measures that will mobilize and enhance participation of women in the development process in ways equal to that of men. These include:
  • substantial portion of foreign assistance funds shall be allocated to support programs for women;
  • women shall benefit equally and participate in development programs funded by foreign assistance;
  • gender bias shall be removed from government regulations, circulars, issuances and procedures;
  • equal opportunities shall be provided for women in all military schools of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police;
  • equal rights shall be accorded to women in entering into contracts and loan agreements and in joining social and cultural clubs; and
  • household managers can avail of social security services through their working spouses.
  • R.A. 7688: An Act Giving Representation to Women in the Social Security Commission (1994)– The Act guarantees women representation in the Social Security Commission

Moreover, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) adopted a set of policies to support the target of gender balance in executive positions. In 1999, the CSC issued a Memorandum Circular setting a target of 50-50 representation of women and men in executive positions and requiring regular reporting by sex on nominations, appointments and positions held.

The CSC also collaborated with the PCW and the Career Executive Board in implementing three programs that aim to increase women’s capacity and skills namely:

  1. Career Advancement of Women in Government Services (CAPWINGS) seeks to enhance support mechanisms, capacity building, training and other enabling mechanisms for women employees. The program has worked on improving working conditions, preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, facilitating career advancement and advocacy.  Policies enacted include: paternity leave, leaves for various family-related occasions, establishment of day care centers, flexible working arrangements (including modified maternity leave, part-time work and flexible hours).
  2. Merit Promotion Plan, which guides promotions based on merit, and has been revised to ensure that gender biases do not obstruct recruitment and promotion and to emphasize equal opportunities for women  and men;
  3. Directory of Women on the Move, which provides information about qualified women candidates for  vacancies in the Cabinet and other executive positions to ensure that appointing authorities have  information and choices about qualified women for top posts.

Source: Philippines periodic report to CEDAW (2004)

At the end of 2008, women almost equal with men in government as women account for 48.75 percent (640,304) of the 1,313,538 and men, 48.12 percent (632,124) (IGP, CSC 2008).

The CSC recognizes the importance of top level support for gender and development and the need to establish sex-disaggregated data and statistical information on women and their specific situations and concerns in the bureaucracy to help decision makers and intensify women-specific trainings and human resources development opportunities.

Furthermore, the CSC policy on equal representation directs the recommending and appointing authority to ensure women are equally represented in managerial/executive positions. This starts with promoting gender balance in the terms of nominations and instituting specific provisions of women’s presence in oversight agencies as well as a provision on fifty percent women representation in policy-making bodies of social security sector such as Social Security System, PhilHealth, GSIS, PAG-IBIG Fund, among others.