Women Enjoy Equal Status with Men in Philippines


The Philippines has produced two women presidents, with President Corazon Aquino being an icon for democracy. Modern day Filipinas continue to prove their ability to handle responsibilities in different fields

H.E. Mrs. Ma. Teresita C. Daza

Ambassador of the Philippines to India


The Philippines has a long tradition of strong and empowered women. Philippine history has many accounts featuring patriotic Filipino women. Gabriela Silang is known as the first female revolutionary leader of the Filipino movement for Independence from Spain in the 18th century and in 1898, Marcela Agoncillo sewed by hand the first official flag of the Philippines.

The Philippines has produced two women presidents, with President Corazon Aquino being an icon for democracy. Modern day Filipinas continue to prove their ability to handle responsibilities in different fields.

In 2013 Philippine National and Local elections, there were 60 women representatives elected in the 16th Congress of the country, or 25.6 percent of the 234 Representatives of the Lower House.

In 2015, 3 Filipina executives made Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. These are - Ms. Teresita Sy-Coson, Vice Chairman of SM Investments and Chairman of BDO Universal Bank, who pushed SM Investments Corporation to become the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market capital; Ms. Helen Yuchengco-Dee, Chairman of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, who was cited for leading the Yuchengco Group of Companies in the Philippines, which includes as subsidiaries its flagship Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), non-life insurance firm Malayan Insurance and construction firm EEI; and Ms. Zenaida Rustia-Tantoco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the SSI Group/Rustan’s Commercial that is the exclusive franchise in the Philippines of international brands such as Gucci, Marks and Spencer, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and DKNY.

Filipino women have always enjoyed equal status with men. The Philippines ranked 7th worldwide in the 2015 gender equality index, which is the highest ranking for any Asian country.

Gender equality awareness in the Philippines is also making strides in electoral politics through laws that state the rights and privileges of Filipino women. The Magna Carta of Women, a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination through the recognition, protection, fulfilment and promotion of the rights of Filipino women, especially those belonging to the marginalised sectors of the society, was signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on July 28, 2008.

The Philippines was also the first country in Asia to formulate and adopt a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS). The 2014 document operationalises its commitment to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security.

Also in 2014, the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) signed a landmark circular aimed to ensure that concerns on peace and women are better integrated in government programs and services in conflict-affected areas. This makes the Philippines a global pioneer and model in mainstreaming and institutionalising in the government bureaucracy the empowerment and protection of women through the NAPWPS and intensified implementation of the Magna Carta of Women.

Laws favouring Filipino women and their children continue to be formulated. On March 17, 2015, Senator Pia Cayetano submitted Senate Bill No. 2710, ‘An Act Increasing The Maternity Leave Period To Ninety (90) Days For Female Employees, Married Or Unmarried, In The Government Service And In The Private Sector, And Granting An Option To Extend For An Additional Thirty (30) Days Without Pay’, keeping the situation of the modern working Filipino women in mind.

To support the Philippine government’s initiative, the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi also conducts activities under the Gender and Development (GAD) program for Filipino women in India and Nepal. Past projects include Financial Literacy Seminar, Seminar on Magna Carta of Women, among others which encourage empowerment of Filipinos through the sharing of knowledge on their roles and rights in society.

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