Some highlights from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Report for 2007:
“The Philippines (6) and Sri Lanka (15) remain distinctive for being the only Asian countries in the top 20 of the rankings. The Philippines is once again the only country in Asia to have closed the gender gap on both education and health and is one of only six in the world to have done so. The Philippines’s scores on political empowerment improved further, as did some of its economic indicators such as estimated income, labour force participation and income equality for similar work.”
Great news. Of course, there’s a but.
Jaileen F. Jimeno’s investigative report on maternal health shows health data that is often ignored. The Philippines is still a country where ten to twelve women die everyday, a figure which experts say is 99 percent preventable. Many NGO representatives even dispute the government’s maternal death statistics as too low.
The Philippine government’s own statistical data further belies the World Economic Forum’s rosy outlook. Only seven out of ten women were able to visit a healthcare provider for antenatal care. For general matters, women often did not seek care healthcare for themselves, citing problems with paying for treatment, lack of transportation to the health facility, or lack of access to any facility due to distance.
“Closing the gender gap” in issues like education and health require far more than stating that there are more women working in the paid labor force and “look, more women are serving in government.” It means placing the needs and concerns of marginalized groups—women, rural workers, indigenous Filipinos, etc—at the center of economic development policies. But something tells me I should not be too optimistic.