Print Version    Email to Friend
Women’s Day highlights all round raw deal

MANILA (UCAN): The desperation of unemployment and the modern form of worker exploitation—replacing regular employment with short-term contracts—or what has been dubbed contractualisation in The Philippines, was the main theme of Women’s Day on March 8, as thousands took to the streets demanding regular jobs and decent wages.

“Sexual discrimination in the workplace, coupled with intensified contractualisation easily target women workers and push them to further destitution,” Sarah Elago, a Youth Party representative, said.

The Centre for Women’s Resources claims that some one million women in The Philippines are currently unemployed, with a further 2.25 million underemployed. Out of the 15.29 million working women, only 55 per cent, or 8.4 million, earn a regular wage or are salaried.

The majority of those with regular jobs are service workers (1.64 million), labourers and unskilled workers (2.64 million). 

They make up the biggest number working for wages and they also receive the lowest wages, averaging only US$3.50 ($27) to US$5 ($38.80) a day.

Since 2010, the number of women employed in permanent jobs has only grown 4.43 per cent, while seasonal or temporary workers have shown a 16.35 per cent increase. 

Those employed on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis have increased by 72.87 per cent.

Gabriela says large companies involved in wholesale and retail, manufacturing and the service sectors have become notorious for putting workers on short-term contracts.

Accessibility to services was also a big issue and an urban poor group placed 500 empty buckets on the street, each one carrying an appeal 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,” Gloria Arellano, the chairperson of Kadamay, said, adding that accessible health care and clinics for women remain a distant dream for urban poor communities.

At a relocation site in the town of Montalban on the outskirts of Manila, residents have had no water supply since last year. They are forced to lug it from another village and it costs about $7.70 for a cubic metre.

Arellano complained that the government social welfare office had told women in poor relocation and squatter areas not to join the Women’s Day protests as a condition for receiving their allowances from the government Conditional Cash Transfers programme, which is paid to some poor families.

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

Statistics from Gabriela show that since 2010, violations of the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act increased by 200 per cent. 

The number or recorded rape cases increased by 92 per cent from 5,132 to 9,875 during the same period, with one woman or child raped every 53 minutes.

“To add insult to injury, thousands of these cases remain as bitter statistics,” Marc Lino Abila, from the College Editors Guild of The Philippines, pointed out.

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


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

More from this section