THE lack of reforms to advance women’s rights when it comes to assets, parenthood and marriage has kept the country’s rating the same in the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law Index for the past 10 years.
In the Women, Business and the Law Index 2022, the Philippines’s average score was at 78.8 out of 100, the same rating it has had since 2013. The country’s rating, however, remained above the global average of 76.5 out of 100.
Globally, the World Bank said, women still have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men—an aggregate score of 76.5 out of a possible 100, which denotes complete legal parity.
“While progress has been made, the gap between men’s and women’s expected lifetime earnings globally is US$172 trillion—nearly two times the world’s annual GDP,” said Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships.
“As we move forward to achieve green, resilient and inclusive development, governments need to accelerate the pace of legal reforms so that women can realize their full potential and benefit fully and equally,” Pangestu also said.
Women, Business and the Law 2022 measures laws and regulations across 190 countries in eight areas impacting women’s economic participation—mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.
In the Philippines, the country’s average rating for marriage, parenthood, and assets received the lowest rating of 60 out of 100.
The data from the World Bank showed the country’s mobility score has been dragged down because women still cannot apply for a passport in the same way as a man.
In terms of marriage, the Philippines is one of only two countries in the world that does not allow divorce so women could not obtain divorce in the country and woman do not have the same rights to remarry as a man.
In 2015, BusinessMirror published a three-part story on obsolete laws which included a 301-day rule that needed to be observed by widows before they could marry again.
These stories can be found through these links: Part 1: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2015/09/21/marrying-a-rapist-the-301-day-rule-for-widows-and-other-obsolete-laws/ | Part 2: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2015/09/22/marrying-a-rapist-the-301-day-rule-for-widows-and-other-obsolete-laws-2/|Part 3: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2015/09/23/marrying-a-rapist-the-301-day-rule-for-widows-and-other-obsolete-laws-3/.
In terms of parenthood, the World Bank data showed the government does not administer 100 percent of maternity leave benefits; and there are no paid parental leaves.
“Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace if they are on an unequal footing at home,” said Carmen Reinhart, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group. “That means leveling the playing field and ensuring that having children doesn’t mean women are excluded from full participation in the economy and realizing their hopes and ambitions.”
Meanwhile, the country’s score was at 75 out of 100 in terms of mobility and pension. In terms of mobility, a woman still cannot apply for a passport in the same way as a man in the country while in terms of pension, periods of absence due to childcare are not accounted for in pension benefits.
The areas where the country received a perfect score of 100 were workplace, pay, and entrepreneurship. These indicators take into consideration legal and implementation gaps in financial inclusion; guarantee protection and privacy for women who have made a complaint of violence; gender-sensitive occupational health and safety; and wage transparency, among others.
Among Asean countries, Vietnam and Cambodia implemented reforms which were taken into consideration in the 2022 WBL Index, improving their scores in the index to 85 and 81.3 out of 100, respectively.
The World Bank said Cambodia introduced an old-age pension system that sets equal ages at which women and men can retire with full pension benefits, while Vietnam eliminated all restrictions on women’s employment.
“The East Asia and the Pacific region continues to reform its legislation towards gender equality, but at a slow pace,” the World Bank said.
Despite the disproportionate effect on women’s lives and livelihood from the global pandemic, the World Bank said 23 countries reformed their laws in 2021 to take much-needed steps towards advancing women’s economic inclusion.
The World Bank said the edition explores the operation of Women, Business and the Law indicators in practice in 25 economies. An analysis of the laws’ implementation schemes reveals a substantial gap between legislation on the books and legal operation.
Laws alone are not enough to improve gender equality; factors at play include not only their implementation and enforcement, but also social, cultural, and religious norms. These gaps will be further explored in future cycles of Women, Business and the Law reports.