The Philippines, often hailed as one the most gender-equal countries in the world, placed 17th out of 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines came in second only to New Zealand, which ranked fourth globally.
The report doesn’t paint the whole picture, said Nathalie Africa-Verceles, director of the Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of the Philippines. In this B-Side episode, Ms. Africa-Verceles speaks with Gillian M. Cortez (who was a reporter for BusinessWorld at the time of the interview) about contradictions between Philippine culture and Philippine laws, in terms of gender equality.
GENDER EQUALITY INCLUDES LGBTQ+ RIGHTS.
“There are still many laws that need to be enacted and still many provisions of existing laws that need to be revised because there are provisions in existing laws that are discriminatory to women. But when we talk about gender, we don’t only refer to women,” said Ms. Africa-Verceles, emphasizing that gender equality includes the rights of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning) community.
Congress, she added, should prioritize passing the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill. “I’m very disappointed it’s taking so long.”
THE WORKPLACE SHOULD PROMOTE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION.
Employers have seen the necessity to include measures that encourage diversity in the workplace, said Ms. Africa-Verceles. Weaving in measures that call for inclusivity with current worker-centered practices will ensure the security of employees from experiencing discrimination at work.
“There will always be women and gender-diverse individuals in your organizations so you need to ensure that they do not experience discrimination, marginalization, or subordination… that is the mandate of any decent organization,” she said.
ENCOURAGE CRITICAL THINKING AT A YOUNG AGE.
Families and schools are crucial to the advancement of gender equality. Children who are encouraged to think critically will be able to discern unacceptable gender stereotypes and expectations that have been embedded in literary and artistic canons, pop culture, and media.
“What I would like to see us doing in our families and in our schools is raising the critical awareness of children and other individuals with respect to all these constructed notions of masculinity and femininity,” she said.
“What we want to do is to raise a generation that knows how to critique the gender norms and stereotypes … because if you think critically, no matter what happens in your society, you’re not going to accept it just like that because you’re able to analyze.”
(This article was first published in the Business World Website on June 20, 2021)