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Toward caring economics: Bridging the gender gap

The pervasive, long term harm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic emerges with greater clarity more than a year after its onset.

The inequality between men and women has widened, due to the disproportionate burden borne by women who have lost more jobs and have taken on the burden of childcare brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which monitors disparities between the sexes in 156 countries across four areas – education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment – it will now take 135.6 years to bridge that gender gap, compared to 99.5 years as of the previous years reckoning. Established by the WEF in 2006, this report seeks to create global awareness of the challenges that gender gaps pose and espouses the principle that without gender parity, economies and societies will not thrive.

How does the Philippines fare?

The Philippines is still the top-ranked country in Asia and, at number 16, the only Asian country in the top 20 nations. The country dropped eight notches from its 2019 ranking. As gathered by the Philippine Commission for Women (PCW), the Philippines has closed 78 percent of its overall gender gap, garnering a score of 0.781 (down by 1.8 percentage points from .799 in 2019).

The bright spots in the Philippines’ performance are notable.

“It has closed 80 percent of the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, with women outnumbering men in senior and leadership roles, as well as in professional and technical professions. It is only one of four countries to achieve this feat. The country ranks 5th on the indicator assessing gender wage equality, with a score of 81.2,” the report noted.

Also noteworthy is that the country has closed the gender gaps in educational attainment and health and survival. The PCW reports further: Female life expectancy is five years longer than male, while the literacy rate is above 98 percent for both sexes. A larger percentage of women and girls are enrolled in tertiary and secondary education.”

Can the world wait for another century before gender equality is finally attained? Clearly, a paradigm shift must now be considered.

In The Real Wealth of Nations, Dr. Riane Eisler, founder of the Center of Partnership Studies advocates a change in economic policies and practices that emphasize the importance of investing in people who do the work of care, investing in early childhood and relying on new measures of economic health. This means focusing on the household economy so that the work of women and mothers in managing the home and child rearing may be properly recognized in national income (GDP) measurement.

Beyond touting the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the WEF may do well to take heed of Dr. Eisler’s recommendation: “What is needed is a caring economics that recognizes that real wealth is not financial but consists of the contributions of people and of nature and where economic policies and practices support caring for both.”

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Desk

Tempo 07 April 2021, Wednesday issue

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