THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) plan to offer a program aiding women who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said on Tuesday at a webinar on COVID-19’s impact on gender equality that the program may receive approval later this year, and hopes to address vulnerable women displaced from the jobs market, particularly those who are 25-50 years old.
Programs to be offered include skills training, livelihood grants, and childcare assistance, Mr. Bird said.
Vulnerable women in remote areas will also be given food vouchers, he added.
The pandemic saw over 3 million women moving from conventional employment to the informal sector, or to self-employed status, Mr. Bird added.
“In the Philippines’ case, what we’ve seen from the pandemic is that women had much larger increases in unemployment compared to men.” Mr. Bird said. “Traditionally when you look at the unemployed figures, women account for about 30%, but that is currently now 40% or closer to 50% of total unemployment.”
“So far, the pandemic has exposed the gaps in social protection around food insecurity, particularly for vulnerable women in remote areas,” he added.
Mr. Bird said food insecurity, domestic violence, and child abuse, are all connected, based on anecdotal evidence.
He said that the Philippines was “quite advanced” in terms of their targeting poor families via the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The program, run by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, serves around 15 million people. Families receive cash assistance if they agree to meet developmental milestones for child education and women’s health.
Mr. Bird said “one of the weaknesses of the program is that it did not account for other families that did not fall under the program.”
The ADB, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry is also currently piloting a program known as “SkillsUpNet,” to address the need for reskilling or upskilling individuals for the job market. — Tobias Jared Tomas
Grants of between $20,000 and $80,000 will be provided to enterprises that retrain their workers, subject to certain conditions. These conditions are: 10% of trainees must be jobseekers, with at least 30% of trainees for construction jobs to be female. In agriculture, tourism, and information technology, the quota for trainees is at least 50% female.
Elsewhere in Asia and Oceania, the pandemic has also affected health and access to services, while adding to women’s burdens in performing unpaid household work, the United Nations said at the webinar.
United Nations Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Statistics Specialist Cecilia Tinonin and Regional Advisor on Gender Statistics Sara Duerto Valero said the agency conducted a phone survey in late 2021 covering Indonesia, Kiribati, Pakistan, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga.
The study found that women spent more time during the pandemic performing unpaid care and domestic work to a greater extent than men, and that on average, women experienced the effects of food shortages more so than men.
The survey turned up much misinformation on pregnancy, which kept women from getting vaccines, Ms. Valero said.
Social protection and financial remittances are the most common form of support in these countries, but had limited reach. The male-female gap in receiving such support was widest in Pakistan. — Tobias Jared Tomas