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Filipino women march for jobs, decent wages

Unemployment, low wages ran rampant among country's women

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: March 08, 2016 10:40 AM GMT

Updated: March 08, 2016 10:43 AM GMT

Filipino women march for jobs, decent wages

Filipino women march in the streets of Manila to call for jobs and decent wages to mark Women's Day. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Women's Day in the Philippines was marked by protests in Manila calling for regular jobs and decent wages for female workers.

"Sexual discrimination in the workplace, coupled with intensified 'contractualization,' easily target women workers and push them to further destitution," said Sarah Elago, the Youth Party's female representative. 

Some 1 million Filipino women are currently unemployed, while 2.25 million are underemployed, according to data from the Center for Women's Resources. 

Out of the 15.29 million employed women, only 55 percent or 8.4 million of them are wage and salary workers. 

Majority of the wage and salary workers are service workers (1.64 million), laborers, and unskilled workers (2.64 million). They comprise the biggest number of wage workers and they also receive the lowest wages, earning US$5 and US$3.5 a day, respectively.

Since 2010, the number of women employed in permanent jobs grew by 4.43 percent, while the seasonal or temporary workers have posted a 16.35 percent increase. 

Those employed on a daily or weekly basis have increased by 72.87 percent. 

The womens group Gabriela said large companies involved in wholesale and retail, manufacturing, and services have become "notorious implementers of contractual work."


Lack of social services

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An urban poor group highlighted their protest on March 8 by putting out 500 empty water pails bearing their calls for accessible water and utilities.

"Most women in urban poor communities are still left to fend for themselves against attacks that deprive them of their basic needs," said Gloria Arellano, chairwoman of the group Kadamay.

Accessible health and clinics for women remain a distant dream for urban poor communities.

In a relocation site for slum dwellers in the town of Montalban in the outskirts of Manila, residents have had no water since last year. They are forced to source water from another village costing them about a dollar per cubic meter.

Arellano complained that the government's social welfare office have told women in slums not to join the Women's Day protest as a condition to receive their allowances from the "Conditional Cash Transfers" program of the government for poor families.

"The program is a powerful tool for manipulation and dictatorial control over the lives of ordinary Filipinos," said Arellano.


Violence against women

Statistics from Gabriela show that from 2010, violations of the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act increased by 200 percent. The number or recorded rape cases increased by 92 percent from 5,132 to 9,875 during the period, with one woman or child raped every 53 minutes. 

"To add insult to the injury, thousands of these cases remain as bitter statistics," said Marc Lino Abila of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. 

Abila noted that compared to the number of violations, only few of the perpetrators are put behind bars, and even fewer are convicted.  

The country continues to have a high maternal mortality ratio. For every 100,000 live births in the Philippines, 114 mothers die during pregnancy.

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