“As the economic situation of the country worsens, so will women’s economic empowerment be non-existent.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Protesters stormed the first day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Women and the Economy Forum, with a picket in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Sept. 16 where the meeting was being held.
The progressive women’s group Gabriela slammed the APEC’s neoliberal economic agenda which, they said, worsened poverty and economic disempowerment, especially among women of underdeveloped economies like the Philippines.
The Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) opened the formal events of the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, which will culminate in the adoption of a set of policy recommendations on women during the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy on September 18.
The said policy recommendation is expected to be included in the APEC 2015 declaration to be adopted by heads of state during the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in November.
The PPWE’s framework for women’s economic empowerment is founded on five key pillars: access to capital, market, skills and capacity-building, women’s leadership and agency, and innovation and technology.
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general said these key pillars will not eradicate women’s burdens nor improve their economic situation.
“What they will be discussing would only be mere band-aid solutions for poverty alleviation targeting women like the Conditional Cash Transfer,” Salvador said.
Salvador said women empowerment should focus on “basic economic fundamentals like land reform and job security through national industries.”
CCT brought no change to the condition of the poor
In seven years of implementing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Salvador said it has not brought significant change to the economic conditions of women and their families. The 4Ps is the Philippine version of the CCT.
Salvador said poverty incidence among women registered a very slight decrease from 25.9 percent in 2009 to 25.6 percent in 2012. The budget for the program, meanwhile, had doubled, from P10 billion ($213 million) in 2010 to P26 billion ($555 billion) in 2015.
Salvador also noted that in its 2016 proposed budget, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has lump sum amounts of P3.3 billion ($72 million) for Micro-enterprise Development and P6.2 billion ($133 million) for “employment facilitation.” This is allotted for the graduates of the 4Ps program with 170,470 and 208,352 family-beneficiaries, respectively.
“If these programs are what they mean by access to capital, then this cannot lead to economic empowerment,” Salvador said.
“Like the CCT, these forms of dole-outs can again be a source of corruption and in the end, beneficiaries will remain impoverished and disempowered,” Salvador added.
Salvador added that the APEC Forum’s policy direction that will be adopted in November will likely further erode the economic status of women.
“Neoliberal policies will be implemented at full speed – agriculture and trade will be further liberalized, remaining public services will be privatized and the government will further renege on its responsibility to the people, and private and foreign business interests will thus be favored over public interest. All these are in the guise of economic integration in Asia Pacific,” Salvador said.
“Anong laban ng mga mahihirap na bansa gaya ng Pilipinas sa mga bansang gaya ng US, Japan, Korea at kahit ng Singapore? ( How could poor countries like the Philippines compete with developed countries such as the U.S., Japan, Korea, and even Singapore?) As the economic situation of the country worsens, so will women’s economic empowerment be non-existent,” she added.