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Land of power women: PHL rises to 5th in global gender survey, highest in Asia

(Updated 8:05 p.m.) All the alpha Filipinas currently holding powerful positions in government – including chief justice and justice secretary – are just the tip of a larger truth: women are more empowered in the Philippines than in most countries in the world. 
That is if one goes by a new global gender gap survey that ranks countries according to improvements in areas where women have long suffered from inequalities. The Philippines is now fifth in the world, and the only one in the top ten not considered a wealthy nation.
The Philippines jumped three spots to rank fifth, the only country from the lower-middle-income group in the top five, in the latest Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum.
The Philippines was the highest-ranking country from Asia that made the top 10 in the survey, which measures four critical areas of inequality between men and women: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

“The Philippines is the only country in Asia and the Pacific that has fully closed the gender gap in both education and health,” the report said.
Iceland maintained its No. 1 slot for five years in a row. Finland came in second followed by Norway and Sweden, according to the report released on Friday (Philippine time).
The fifth place ranking is the highest the Philippines has received from the annual Global Gender Gap Report since it started eight years ago.

“The Philippines moved up three places this year due to small improvements in the Economic Participation and Opportunity sub indexes. The country ranked 10th on the Political Empowerment sub-index and remains the highest-ranking country from Asia in the Index,” the report read.
Other countries in the top 10 spots are Ireland (sixth), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th), and Nicaragua (10th).

In a BBC report, Filipina journalist Marites Vitug was quoted as saying that the Philippines has a “very liberal work atmosphere” with a “fantastic support network” from household help to extended families.

She attributed the country's high ranking to its matriarchal society. “Women usually hold the purse. Even if they are not the major breadwinners, they do the budget, decide how money is spent,” Vitug explained. “Thus, men don't have a dismissive attitude toward women.”

For its, part the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) was “elated” on the country’s advancement on the index.
“The collective hard work of government agencies, non-government and civil society organizations, academe and various stakeholders proves that the country indeed is recognizing and valuing women as active drivers of development,” PCW said in a statement released on Saturday.
Still, the commission noted that there were areas on gender disparity that can be improved.
“Efforts to keep children in school… to expand economic opportunities for women and increase women's participation in decision-making positions need to be accelerated and sustained in all spheres,” the statement read.
“PCW will not stop from performing its mandate until we enforce the necessary mechanisms to foster and promote equal opportunities for women and me,” it added.
Out of the 110 countries that joined the Global Gender Gap Report every year since 2006, 95 countries (or 86 percent) have improved their performance over the last four years, while 15 countries or 14 percent have shown widening gaps, the 2013 report said.
This year, the countries at the bottom five were: Yemen, Pakistan, Chad, Syria, and Mauritania.
The Global Gender Gap Index noted that the Philippines and New Zealand led the Asia Pacific Region, and were the only two countries from the region that were part of the top 10 global rankings.

Although the Philippines, together with other countries like the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, have made investments in women’s health and education, they have not fully closed economic and participation gaps particularly in senior positions, wages and leadership levels, the report said. Rouchelle R. Dinglasan/KDM/HS/VC, GMA News