Hardwiring gender parity
As Women’s Month is about to close, it is time we think of some concrete ways forward to push for more parity between the two sexes as far as all the indicators of gender gap is concerned. This is the conclusion and recommendation of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020. The report provides a “comprehensive overview of the current state of the global gender gap and of efforts and insights to close it.” The index for reviewing each country’s gender gap aims to “track progress and reveal best practices across countries and subjects…” It also provides a ranking of countries according to whether they have closed the gender gap, i.e., the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural or economic attainments or attitudes.” The gender gap index measures the gap in health, education, economics, and politics.
Globally, while we are seeing more and more women actively engaged in almost all aspects of life and in highly diverse professions—including government and politics—we are also aware that there has been an unprecedented rise in cases of violence against women and girls, especially at this time of the pandemic. International agencies like UN Women have been campaigning vigorously to “flatten the curve” of the incidences of violence against women and girls, referred to as the “shadow pandemic,” amid the rise of COVID-19 cases.
The WEF report’s blurb says that no one among us, even our children, will see a fully closed gender gap in our lifetimes; gender parity will only be achieved within the next 99.5 years, or almost a century from now. This is sobering and highly frustrating for many of us, especially those who have carved their lifetime career on capacitating women throughout their lives.
In that report, the Philippines ranks #16 among 153 countries that were measured on how they have led their governments in closing the gender gap. Globally we are just a few notches below France. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines is second to New Zealand, the forerunner in the four areas identified by WEF. A progressive and compassionate woman, Jacinda Ardern, is its 40th prime minister.
But before patting ourselves on the back for this high rank compared to huge and powerful countries like the United States (#53) and the Russian Federation (#81), we should be mindful that last year’s rank actually slid eight notches from our position in 2017, when we were #8 (based on data from 2016). So why did we slide back?
In May 2016, 16 million Filipinos voted for former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president. Many of these voters were clueless on the newly elected president’s attitudes and perceptions as far as women are concerned. His misogynistic remarks and foul words stand out in particular, for they come out of his mouth as regularly as his breathing. Women in high positions have been relegated to the sidelines. His Cabinet slowly became a cabal of former military generals whom he considers “corruption free” even though some of them have been associated with massive cases of anomalies that occurred during their watch in agencies they headed. Assertive and feisty women leaders have been eased out through a dubious legal process (like former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s quo warranto case), or incarcerated on trumped-up charges (like Sen. Leila de Lima). Vice President Leni Robredo has always been the object of the President’s sexist insults and misogynistic speculations. He has vilified her several times in many of his national television addresses that sound like rambling ruminations of a disillusioned and jaded street fighter.
(To be continued)
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