By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Philippines, traditionally a matriarchal and egalitarian society, leads Asia Pacific on gender equality in work with significant opportunity of achieving gender parity that could add $40 billion to annual GDP by 2025, or 7 percent above the business-as-usual GDP, a new report on gender equality revealed.
McKinsey & Company’s new report on the Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Asia Pacific showed the Philippines leading despite continuing some weaknesses in gender equality in the society.
McKinsey & Company Managing Partner for the Philippines Kristine Romano said that if the Philippines reinforced opportunities for higher-income women and extended them to poorer women, it could add $40 billion to annual GDP in 2025, or 7 percent above business-as-usual GDP.
“The Philippines has already made significant advances towards gender parity and has established a solid foundation on which to build further progress,” said Romano stressing that the next challenge is to support lower-income women to make the most of their economic potential, pursue careers that will earn them higher wages, and give them the support and flexibility they need.
McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company, has calculated a Gender Parity Score (GPS) for all Asia Pacific countries using 15 indicators of gender equality in work and three types of gender equality in society: essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice; and physical security and autonomy.
The Philippines has low gender inequality on six out of 15 indicators, but high or extremely high inequality on four. It has a GPS of 0.73 on gender equality in work — the best in region — and significantly further ahead of the Asia Pacific average (0.44).
On essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, the Philippines’ GPS is 0.91, somewhat ahead of the Asia Pacific average of 0.85 but a little short of the best in region at 0.96.
On legal protection, the Philippines has a GPS of 0.51, well ahead of the regional average (0.32), but a little behind the best in region (0.66). On physical security and autonomy, the Philippines scores 0.90, ahead of the regional average of 0.82, but a little behind the best in region at 0.96.
Across Asia Pacific, if all countries were to match the rate of improvement of the fastest improving country in the region, $4.5 trillion a year could be added to the region’s GDP by 2025, or 12 percent above business-as-usual GDP.
Based on the study, the Philippines has an opportunity to build on its strengths in women’s representation in professional and technical jobs, and in business leadership.
Overall, women are relatively empowered economically in the Philippines — a traditionally matriarchal and egalitarian society — and this is a strength on which to build.
The report further cited the National Demographic and Health Survey in 2013 which said that majority of married women make all the major household decisions individually or jointly with their husbands.
The Philippines is the region’s best performer on women’s representation in professional and technical jobs, which appears to reflect high educational attainment among Filipinas.