In celebration of Women’s month this March, I would like to use the report published by Business Mirror of the International Labor Organization on its findings about the problems women face in the workplace.
The ILO said women workers continue to bear the brunt of the pressures caused by high inflation and workplace abuses.
In a joint statement, members of the Nagkaisa labor coalition said female employees, who usually end up in precarious and underpaid jobs, are also left to deal with family affairs and finances.
“While inflation hurts everyone, it hurts women more,” Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) Chief of Staff Jillian Roque said.
“As inflation continues to erode purchasing power, women are forced to make sacrifices for their families by starving themselves and skipping on meals or cutting back on essential items and services including health care,” she added.
The latest Gender Statistics on Labor and Employment of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that of the 25 million wage and salary workers in 2017, most or 16 million are male, while the remaining 9 million are female.
A similar trend was also observed for the self-employed: 6.8 million of the 11.1 million workers in the sector are men.
In contrast, women make up more of the unpaid family workers in the said period with 1.4 million, while the remaining million are male.
The ILO report made use of its “gender gap” indicator.
The study showed 15 percent of working-age women worldwide want to work but are unable to do so. Males in similar conditions were much lower at only 10.5 percent.
“The jobs gap is particularly severe in developing countries where the proportion of women unable to find a job reaches 24.9 percent in low-income countries. The corresponding rate for men in the same category is 16.6 percent, a worryingly high level but significantly lower than that for women,” ILO said in a statement.
Partido Manggagawa Secretary General Judy Miranda said many women employees are also hired under a contractual arrangement, which left them earning less and being more vulnerable in workplaces than their male counterparts.
“Pregnant women and nursing mothers in contractual employment for example are not able to assert their rights at work because employers can simply refuse to renew their contracts,” Miranda said.
ILO also came up with the same conclusion, noting the vulnerability of women in workplaces, together with their lower employment rates, “takes a toll” on their earnings.
“Globally, for each dollar of labor income men earn, women earn only 51 cents,” ILO said.
Nagkaisa noted the abuses suffered by female workers can extend beyond employment benefits and even be physical in nature.
It cited the cases of migrant domestic workers in Kuwait including Myla Balbag, who was left paralyzed after jumping from the third floor to escape an abusive employer; as well as Jullebee Ranara whose body was burnt and left in a desert.
Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) deputy secretary general Joanna Bernice Coronacion said the NAGKAISA Women’s Committee is seeking justice for all victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and other forms of violence.
She also urged government to finally ratify ILO’s Convention 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
“The ratification of the ILO C190 is essential for setting-up the policies and environment that will protect women and help us in the assertion of our rights,” Coronacion said.
“While C190 on its own is obviously not the solution, it is a step in the right direction that will benefit all workers, especially women wherever we are—be it at home, at work, or in public,” she added.
Labor groups are set to hold a dialogue and protest in front of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) main office on Wednesday for the celebration of International Women’s Day.