MANILA, Philippines — The government is increasing women participation in the labor force by making more economic opportunities available for them, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The NEDA said the target under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023 to 2028 is for the female labor force participation rate to rise to a range of 52 to 54 percent in 2028 from 51.7 percent in 2022.

Based on its study in 2019, the NEDA found that marriage and childbearing are associated with a significant decline in the female labor force participation, as those currently married or in consensual union are 40 percent less likely to participate in the labor market than those who are single.

It also found that gender stereotypes are still prevalent, with women expected to perform domestic roles, and men to take on economic and productive roles.

“Women today still face challenges that have to do with gender stereotypes that affect their opportunities for work. This situation is not only detrimental to the development of our values as a society, but also to the growth of our economy. Regardless of gender, lower labor force participation translates to lower productivity and slower GDP (gross domestic product) growth,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said.

She said there are certain fields that still prefer men, such as those that heavily use digital technology.

In addition to lower labor participation in these fields, there is also a gender wage gap, with a study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showing women in digital jobs earn 18.4 percent less than men.

“While women today are more educated, some areas such as digital technology remain a male-dominated field. This is not helped by the circumstance wherein educated women who, for a time, attended to domestic duties and aspired to return to the work, are not provided with ample support and training to be equipped with the knowledge and skills that are currently in-demand in the labor market,” Edillon said.

NEDA also found women with low levels of education face a double disadvantage as they are less likely to be employed, while those with jobs are more likely to be working in private households and in the informal sector.

To increase women participation in the labor force, the NEDA said more economic opportunities would be provided for them.

Gender bias and stereotypes associated with women would also be addressed.

Among the strategies identified in the PDP is to mainstream gender and green competencies to address gender bias and gender role stereotypes in promoting entrepreneurship and advancing opportunities for women.

Edillon said providing opportunities for lifelong learning for women, especially digital technology, is also being pushed under the PDP.

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