The offenders of the law will face jail terms and higher monetary fines
Gabriela Women’s Party holds a demonstration in front of the Philippine Congress in Manila to press for an end to discrimination against women. (Photo supplied)
The Philippine Congress has passed a new law that aims to end discrimination against women and ensure gender equality in the workplace.
House Bill No. 4470, also known as the Anti-Discrimination of Women in their Workplaces Bill, was approved with votes of 248 members of the House of Representatives on Nov. 29.
The new law will affect the expansion of a list of prohibitory acts under the Labor Code of the Philippines such as discrimination against any woman employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on account of gender.
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Women's group Gabriela Women’s Party says the bill seeks to strengthen the anti-discriminatory provisions under present laws with provision for jail terms for the violators.
“Now the law has teeth, violators now face jail time compared to the old law wherein fine was the only imposable penalty,” Gabriela member and lawyer Lina Jeresano told UCA News.
Jeresano said that under the bill, it shall be unlawful for any employer to give a lesser compensation, including wage, salary, or other forms of remuneration and benefits to a female compared to a male employee for work of equal value.
“Favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to assignment, promotion, employment benefits, training opportunities, study and scholarship grants solely on account of their sex or characteristics of their sex, whether actual or presumed, is also punishable under the bill,” Jeresano added.
A Filipino company, under the bill, may also not retrench or discharge a female employee on account of her pregnancy, or while she is on leave or confinement due to her pregnancy.
The bill likewise raises monetary fines from 10,000-20,000 pesos (US$200-400) to 50,000-200,000 pesos (US$1,000-4,000).
Private corporations welcomed the bill recognizing the role of women in the corporate world.
“We are in the new century where women play a vital role in various corporate positions. Many chief executive officers in Philippine corporations are women,” Manila hardware businessman Lorenz Francia told UCA News.
Francia cited several Chinese-Filipina women who, because of their perseverance and handwork, built an empire.
“Mica Tan, for example, started trading stocks at the Philippine Stock Exchange when she was 13 years old. In 2009, at 19 years of age, she cofounded the MFT Group, a private equity firm that operates in nine countries and 19 cities worldwide,” Francia added.
Tan’s firm is now approximately worth US$61 million as of March 2020, according to the Makati Business Club.
Father Ryan Delos Santos from the Commission of Family Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that the bill is meant to protect women not only in the upper echelon of Philippine society but ordinary women who rely on their monthly paycheck.
“As Pope Francis said, we need to keep fighting for women’s equality. The fight for women’s rights is an ongoing fight because in some places women have equality with men but in other places they do not, sadly, including the Philippines, which is still highly patriarchal,” Father Santos told UCA News.
Filipino men’s and women’s accumulated wealth is not as equal as they were supposed to be, according to a World Economic Forum report.
The study revealed that Filipina women only reached 79% of the wealth of men when both sexes reach the age of retirement at 60.
“You see that there is a wealth gap between men and women in the Philippines precisely because of work and employment opportunities,” Filipino anthropologist Oscar Reyes told UCA News.
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