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Philippines Wins Accolades for Gender Equality; With Reservations

  • Jason Strother

The Philippines scores high in global surveys on gender equality. But some women there say the reports do not tell the whole story.

Women make up a quarter of Philippine elected officials in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Lawmaker Senator Grace Poe, 45, says it is an accomplishment she feels proud of.

"In terms of our neighbors here in Southeast Asia or even in the world, the Philippines - when it comes to women in leadership positions - is doing very well," said Poe.

And some international observers agree with the senator.

International surveys consistently rank the Philippines as the only Asian nation in the world's top ten for gender equality. The statistics reflect the high number of jobs that Filipino women hold in politics and management. The Southeast Asian state also wins praise for advancements in female education.

But some analysts say these figures do not paint a full picture of gender equality in the Philippines.

“My issue is that some very serious womens' issues that have to figure into gender equality standard are not there," said Carolyn Sobritchea, an anthropologist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. "There is so much domestic violence that is happening, there are women battered inside their homes, crimes that are committed against women, sex crimes that are not in the indicators, human trafficking not in the indicators."

Sobritchea adds that even though the Philippines has elected two female presidents, both came from powerful political families and did little to advance women’s causes.

Some students at Manila’s Miriam College say political dynasties make it hard for women from less privileged backgrounds to enter politics.

But 20-year-old Jelyn Torres says she still will give it a shot after she graduates.

“I want to be a good example, that women can do it, that women can serve, that women can do something for the betterment of the country and that women can make a difference," said Torres.

Torres and her classmates say despite what the surveys show, the Philippines still has a ways to go before it is fully gender equal.

Producer Malte Kollenberg contributed to this report.
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