Happy Women’s Month and belated Happy International Women’s Day to my beautiful readers!
International Women’s Day is among my top 3 favorite holidays, along with Valentine’s and Christmas – New Year (I count them as one). To celebrate and to support one of the goals of this blog, which is to contribute to the financial empowerment of women, I want to find out the current status or situation of Filipinas and from that, suggest how can get our financial affairs in order to have a secure and healthy future.
2020 has been a crazy year for me and I’m not only pertaining to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that although I am a feminist, I’ve been slacking off in the past few years, confident that our rights as women will reach parity with the rights of men as a matter of course. Didn’t Hillary Clinton declare that “women’s rights are human rights”? Haven’t the number of strong and high-profile female leaders increased in the past years, proving that women are capable of not only leading countries but also making sure that their countries survive and thrive during the epidemic?
Sure, there are still places in the world, people, and religions that suppress women’s rights and don’t see women as equal to men, but these are supposed to be aberrations. They’re the minority, are usually politically ultra-conservative, and don’t belong to the mainstream anyway, right? Right?
MISOGYNY IS STILL RAMPANT
Unfortunately, I found that yes, the world still hates women.
I’m not only talking about misogynistic groups who feel entitled to women’s bodies, see women as nothing more than broodmares, and who go on shooting rampages because they can’t get dates. I’m not even referring to people who feel compelled to comment #notallmen every time a women’s issue is brought up, even if it has nothing to do with them, such as female genital mutilation.
I delayed publishing this post because I had to rewrite this part as recent events reminded me that advocating for women’s rights can still be controversial. Even when talking to the woke left and self-declared “feminists”, saying that you want women to advocate and prioritize their rights will leave you open to accusations of hatred and bigotry.
I had the surreal experience of being driven off a private Facebook page which purports itself to be a “safe space” where women’s issues can be discussed and debated upon. During Women’s Month. While advocating for women’s rights.
Sure, they said I was welcome to stay but I just have to shut my trap. No thanks.
Apparently for them, women can only be “real feminists” if we center men and non-gender conforming men in our movement. Apparently, centering natal women (women are adult human females) in the feminist movement is hateful and threatening, more threatening that actual male violence and non-existent protection under the law, both of which are not the fault of women.
Yes, I was called a slur in that FB page and the moderators told *ME* that my views are threatening. I had to laugh because this group is an offshoot of a well-known atheist/freethinking group where dogma of all kinds are questioned all the time. Except of course when the dogma is gender theory, they turn into cult members, unable to distinguish a point of view from an attack. Even though I told them that I am not coming from a place of hate but from the point of view that women should center us in our own movement. I want women to prioritize our unique issues. I haven’t seen the women’s movement demand another marginalized group to center us in their activism. Why should we center another marginalized group in our movement? This is patently absurd.
We are being made to be responsible for male violence, lack of legal protections, and a culture and society that can’t accept gender non-conforming people. Instead of fixing violence, the law, and society, they demand to fix the women. Probably because it’s easier. Women have been oppressed for thousands of years, so why not suppress our newly rediscovered but still unconsolidated voice and power? This leads to me to think that these new movements are a new manifestation of the patriarchy disguising itself as a liberal form of “feminism”.
Women who don’t agree with these activists are called slurs, threatened with rape and physical violence, deplatformed, and deprived of their livelihoods and careers.
Women like J.K. Rowling were canceled by the Left for tweeting that there is a word that refers to “people who menstruate” which is of course women. They want to deprive us of the fundamental right to describe and identify ourselves. If we can’t even describe ourselves, how are we to name our oppression?
Biology is the root of women’s oppression. We are not oppressed because we like to wear feminine clothes or put on make up, or because we “feel girly” (whatever that means). There’s one thing that binds the women of the world, from the urban areas of the Philippines, the steppes of Central Asia, the alteplano of the Andes, the deserts of Sahara, and the glaciers of Alaska. It’s the potential to gestate and give birth to the young of our species. Whether a woman realizes or even want to realize this potentiality is immaterial.
As a woman, I personally support advocacies that will lead to better outcomes for everyone. But I oppose initiatives that will result in erasing and silencing women to please others. Do your own thing and leave us women alone.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The above notwithstanding, I want to share the results of my research and I’m happy to say that women are slowly but surely approaching parity with men in our country.
I’m happy to say that women in the Philippines are thriving. The Global Gender Gap Index 2020 ranks the Philippines 16th out of 153 countries, which means that the gender gap between men and women in the Philippines is narrower compared to the majority of the world. We should be proud and happy with this fact. But of course, the fight for equality does not stop until we achieve complete equality with men.
In terms of numbers, according to the 2021 population projection released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), men slightly outnumber women. There are 54.6 million women compared to 55.5 million men.
Women in the labor force
The labor force information in July 2020 shows that out of Filipinos over 15 (those eligible to work), men very slightly outnumber women. However, there are more men than women who are part of the labor force, with men making up 61 percent of all workers and women, 39 percent.
Even though women make up 49.8 percent of all Filipinos above the age of 15, we only comprise 39 percent or 17.889 million women in the workforce. There are also unemployed women – 1.77 million women – making up 38.9 percent of the all unemployed Filipinos.
However, there are 19 million women who are not part of the labor force and they belong to the 15-24 and 25-34 age group, most probably students and stay at home mothers.
Again, to recap, there are:
- 17.889 million women in the workforce
- 1.77 million women unemployed
- 19 million women not part of the labor force
I don’t know how to feel about these numbers.
These figures look promising as the number of women in the workforce almost approaches the number of those who are not part of the workforce, but then I found this table:
This table shows the percentage of currently (in 2017, the year of publication) married women and the type of compensation they receive. Most of the time, when we say we are employed, it means that we exchange our labor for money, and at times, goods or services. But this table from the PSA shows that there are “employed” women that are not paid. What’s more, these are not negligible numbers. The percentages across all age groups range from a low of 16.3 percent to a high of 25 percent.
If these women are employed but are not paid, I’m suspecting some form of indentured servitude. This is not a farfetched idea because I’m familiar with this kind of arrangement as this is common in our province and I’m sure those who are from the lower socio-economic classes know at least one woman who serves as an unpaid household service worker/maid/nanny somewhere.
I wonder how many of the 17.889 million women who are part of the Philippine workforce in July 2020 fall under the category “employed but not paid”?
In terms of educational attainment, women outnumber men who complete college, post-baccalaureate, Masters, and Doctorate degrees. On the flip side, the majority of the Philippines’ out-of-school youth, aged 6 to 24, are women and girls who stop their schooling because of “marriage and family reasons.”
Most of the 3.6 million out-of-school youths are overwhelmingly female. As of the latest data available published in 2017, 2.278 million Filipino women and girls do not attend school for “marriage/family matters.” On the other hand, 1.321 million men and boys don’t attend school because of “lack of interest.”
Notice the different reasons cited by girls and boys for not attending school. Girls don’t attend school to take up other responsibilities and not because they want to.
Most of us don’t realize that Filipinas only got the right to vote in 1937. That’s only 84 years ago. The first woman to be elected in the Senate was Geronima Pecson in 1947, more than 3 decades after the American colonial authorities allowed Filipinos to have a say in governing the country.
Even in recent years, women are still remain vastly underrepresented in lawmaking. We make up almost 50 percent of the population but the number of women in the legislature, both in the Senate and House of Representatives, have never approached this percentage. There are just some aspects of life that only women who lived our experiences can understand, represent, and fight for. There needs to be more of us up there.
I suspect that if more women occupy seat in the Senate and the House of Representatives, we would already have easier access to contraceptives, birth control, and divorce, despite the influence of churches. We won’t have laws that are prejudiced against women. Like, this law that was obviously written with very little, if at all, input from women.
Stay with me here because it’s very convoluted:
- It allows a man who fathered a child with a woman that is not his wife (aka, his paramour) to give his name to the child. This child’s biological parents are both listed on her birth certificate. BUT
- A married woman who bears a child with a man that is not her husband (her paramour) is required by law to name the said child under her husband. The child’s biological father is not listed on her birth certificate. And before you say anything, it’s usually women who suffer from this injustice. It’s anti-woman. I’ve seen it myself a lot of times.
WOMEN & MONEY IN THE PHILIPPINES
Of course, because we are a personal finance blog, I want to bring particular attention to information on women’s money and income, health, life expectancy, and other related issues that result from our biology and social roles.
The needs and circumstances of men and women and different and our specific issues need to be considered. For instance, we need to take into account societal pressures and expectations, our longer life expectancy, childbirth, and child-rearing.
Women's incomes are going up
On average, households headed by Filipinas have higher average family incomes, higher average annual expenditure, and higher average annual savings, compared to households headed by men.
In terms of average daily wages, the data shows that the average daily wages of women have outstripped the men’s average since 2010. In general, women earn higher in terms of daily wages and annual family income.
A vast majority of married Filipinas between the ages of 15 and 49 participate in making important decisions. Only a very small minority do not participate in any decision.
But I’m still wondering where is the information for married women 50 and above? Does the PSA think they just disappear? What is going on?
Married women and mothers
I wrote in my post Women, Relationships, and Money that women should carefully vet the men they will marry and have children with because our and our children’s health and lives can depend on their finances.
Hundreds of women still die from childbirth every year. These numbers don’t even include the number of women who experience health issues pre and post-partum.
Not only do women die from complications from the pregnancy itself, but Filipinas also experience violence during pregnancy, most of which were perpetrated by their husbands or partners.
The more I think about it, I find it crazy that at this moment in history women are getting pregnant for free. Creating a child from scratch using our uteri is a 24-hour job for 9 months without weekends and holidays. Plus there should be a hazard pay because we can get killed while pregnant and vulnerable (we can’t exactly run away or escape from attacks while being all puffy).
Ladies, take care of yourself make sure that you only have children with men (or women, it’s 2021!) that will be able to pay for all the bills and more!
Women's life expectancy is longer than men!
Okay, so ladies and gentlemen, take note. Filipina women will outlive men by more or less 5 years. For us ladies, this means that we have to make financial plans and other arrangements because if your spouse is the same age as you, you have at least 5 more years to go living on your own.
If he’s older than you, then you’ll probably be alone longer.
Relatedly, the leading cause of death of Filipinas is cancer, diseases of the circulatory system, and heart diseases. Of course, people just don’t die right away from these diseases as we can suffer from cancer and heart diseases for years before it finally kills us. I don’t want to be flippant but…. at least most people die right away from aneurysms.
For good measure and to drive home the point, I included this table that shows the problems of women aged 15 to 49 in accessing health care (again, boo for you ladies 50 and above. Apparently, you don’t exist.)
Just in case you have this delusion that you will definitely for sure 100 percent will have easy access to health care and treatment, almost 50 percent of women across all age groups have problems getting money for treatment.
More than 20 percent of women are far from health facilities, and more than 50 percent of us experience at least one problem in accessing health care.
In terms of fees, the average cost of in-patient medical care/confinement in the Philippines varies but Philhealth pays a considerable portion of it. So make sure to keep your Philhealth memberships current.
Obviously, it’s cheaper if you’re treated in a public facility and PhilHealth will cover more than 75 percent of your bills. But if you go to a private facility, you’ll be responsible for two-thirds of the bill EACH TIME.
Remember that these figures do not represent the total bill you will pay over the course of your life. Not even the bills you need to pay annually. These are the average cost for each confinement.
Unpaid work in this context of this post are the unpaid domestic labor performed in the household. Most often than not, these are also invisible and unacknowledged labor.
The majority of the unpaid work in the household is performed by women. When working mothers go home after their first shift at their paid work, they go home to a second shift of caring for their children and doing housework.
Ever wonder why your house is always clean and cozy, your clothes neatly ironed and folded in your closet, and your favorite snack is in the fridge? It’s not the work of invisible house elves. It’s your mom. Or if you’re married, your wife.
Filipino men (and most men all over the world, we have receipts) have successfully passed most of the unpaid work of caring, to women.
Even if we compare the combined market and home production hours performed by men and women, women still work longer hours across all age groups. This translates to more money as well as more time time for relaxation, hobbies, side hustles, and networking for men.
This is a world-wide epidemic that shows how capitalism and our modern society only flourish on the back of women’s unpaid labor. This New York Times article found that the combined value of women’s unpaid work world wide is $10.9 trillion a year. To quote the article:
Apart from actually performing unpaid (and unappreciated) work, women are also burdened with the mental load of running the household and organizing the family. Many men don’t appreciate how mentally hard and time-consuming this load is.
To have a small glimpse on how most men don’t appreciate this extra burden that women perform, read this post about a woman who delegated to her husband the mental load of feeding his OWN dog. Her husband didn’t realize at the onset that feeding the dog was not only just literally about feeding the dog. It also included:
- Regularly checking the available stock of dog food and vitamins
- Going to the grocery to buy the dog food
- Scheduling how the dog will eat in consideration of all the other things the husband was doing
- All of these, day in and day out.
- Making arrangements for vacations and long trips
At one point, the husband broke down in front of a food processor (that he also almost broke) making his own dog’s food and blamed his wife for his hardships.
And that’s only one thing that this man was responsible for. Imagine bearing the mental load for everything in the household. So please think about this before you blame your wife/partner for not telling you what to do in the house. You’re just adding to her mental load and making her life harder.
FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT FOR WOMEN
Ladies, know your worth. Don’t ever be ashamed or guilty of wanting to take care of yourself financially. Have your own personal accounts, separate from your spouse and family. You are an individual and you NEED to have your own money and investments under your sole control.
Look, we don’t know what the future brings. Let’s be prepared for all possible scenarios.
I know that many women WANT to know how to handle and invest their money. But many of us delay learning how to do so because we’re always waiting for the right time. We’re always busy with other responsibilities: spouse’s career, children’s daily needs, helping parents. But the perfect time is not going to come unless you carve the time out of your schedule to take care of yourself.
To help you get started, below are some money moves that will help women feel in control, powerful, and secure.
1. A savings account that only you can access
The first and most basic – as women, we should have our own savings or checking accounts. This will be the foundation of our financial independence as women. We don’t want no man controlling us with money. We need to have our own which only we can access.
When I say own, I mean that the account should just be solely under your name and control. Not joint account with your spouse. In my own opinion, ALL WOMEN, (yes, including stay-at-home mothers and stay-at-home grandmothers) should have their own, separate accounts.
It’s up to you if you will tell your spouse or partner about the existence of this account (but better not tell them, IMO), but make sure that you have one with enough funds to cover contingencies and beyond.
I also encourage stay-at-home mothers to find ways of earning money. A lot of women have opened online businesses by selling items in Shopee, Lazada, Facebook, and Instagram. Some answer surveys work part-time as virtual assistants or content providers.
I know this is easier for some women and less so for others. Most working women automatically have separate bank accounts through their employer so it’s easy to stash away a few couple of thousands every month. For more than half of adult women who are not part of the labor force (mostly stay at home mothers), this can be a challenge because:
- Opening a bank account in the Philippines if you are not employed in the formal sector is hard since most banks require a proof of income or certificate of employment; and
- Many women don’t feel comfortable setting aside a portion of what they consider as the “family money” for their own account.
2. You don't need a man to be financially secure, so raise your standards
I hope we all know by now that we don’t need a man to be financially secure. Unlike the Bennet sisters, we will not face penury if we don’t catch rich husbands because guess what, we can be rich on our own now!
Filipina women are well-educated and many of us have advanced degrees. More women than men are white-collar workers. Female-headed households have higher annual incomes compared to households headed by men. Women have higher average daily wages compared to men.
We have options, ladies!
I want to clarify that I don’t mean that we should date and marry a man who doesn’t have his finances together just because we can make our own money. My point is that we don’t have to settle. Choose a man who will at least earn as much as you do. At least. Don’t be afraid to raise your standards. At the very least, a man should already have a house or a condo, an investment portfolio, a car, and of course, a career as proof that they are worthy of our time and energy.
Think of this as their audition to have access to your heart, body, and of course, your uterus.
Remember that there are more Filipino men than women AND more Filipinas marry foreigners. So much so that we have a government agency that takes care of them. Men need us more than we need them.
If no man can reach your standards, you can even be a fabulous cat lady or plantita, prancing around being rich, happy, and single, traveling the world and doing brunch. Or whatever you want to do on your free time.
Also, have you noticed that single ladies beyond the age of 35 are more fit, better looking, and much happier than single men of their age? We also don’t write crazy manifestos and go on shooting rampages because we’re not getting male attention.
3. Complications from pregnancy can kill you
Nature gave women the power and burden of childbirth. It’s a superpower because literally every person in the world was grown in a woman’s uterus. But this superpower can also kill us.
Annually, hundreds of Filipinas die from complications at all stages of pregnancy. Even if we make it out of the pregnancy months and we’re already in the delivery room, we can die during labor, delivery, and immediately after.
Not to mention that many women suffer from physical and psychological issues resulting from pregnancy and childbirth. Our bodies are demolished and we need to take months to recuperate, and years to return to optimal health. Most of us won’t be able to go back to our healthiest selves.
And of course, I would be remiss not mention that many women are abused and killed while pregnant.
Obviously, the best way to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth is before you even get pregnant. I for one think it should start even before you have sex. I know that in this current climate that celebrates casual sex, many women and girls are conditioned and groomed to think it’s “liberating” to be sex-positive. But remember that one consequence of sex is the possibility of pregnancy. Plus the possibility of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). So if you’re not ready to get pregnant yet, make sure that you have access to and use birth control and demand that your partner use condoms.
Or you know what, just stop having sex until you’re in an exclusive and committed relationship. Ladies’ toys have already been invented. Enjoy them!
a. Government-mandated benefits
Now, if you’re planning on getting pregnant, make sure that your insurances are updated. If you’re employed, check with your Human Resources that your PhilHealth membership is current. Check that your SSS membership is also active and that you have an SSS ID. An SSS ID is required for you to be able to file a claim for benefits.
Whether you decide to pay out of pocket or through a HMO when you deliver your child, the bill will reflect a PhilHealth portion. If you don’t have an insurance that covers childbirth, PhilHealth will be a great help in reducing your bills. On the other hand, if you have insurance coverage, your HMO will still require that a portion is paid by PhilHealth. If you don’t have a PhilHealth membership or it’s inactive, you will be responsible to pay this portion.
SSS also have useful maternity benefits that you can claim after you’ve given birth. Read this SSS page for more information on the computation of the benefits.
b. Emergency expenses
Don’t forget that you should also have enough money stashed away for emergencies during delivery. Even if your doctor or midwife tells you that you will deliver normally, there can be complications during the labor and delivery itself. I have heard of women who requested their OB-Gyne to delay a caesarian section operation because they’re concerned about the extra fees it will entail.
Imagine how this will horribly affect your and your child’s lives. Make sure that you and your husband/partner are prepared for this eventuality.
Actually, you know what, make sure that the man save up as much a possible for this contingency. HE HAS TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING. Paying the bills is the LEAST he can do. You’re already doing your part.
You’re gestating the child for 9 months; you’re making the baby from scratch with your uterus. Can he 50-50 this effort? NO!
Then you undergo labor, possibly die from giving birth. Your body will be demolished and will be out of commission for months. Then you feed the baby with your breasts for months, even years. And you will pay a portion of the fees? Don’t do it!
4. Healthcare is expensive!
I cited information above about the costs of healthcare and the particular problem of women accessing healthcare. In short, healthcare in the Philippines can get expensive and almost 50 percent of women aged 15 to 49 have problems getting money for treatment. I suspect the percentage is even higher for older women.
The number one killer of women in the Philippines is cancer, so we should definitely prepare for that. One thing that we should remember about cancers is that we don’t die right away upon diagnosis. Most times, it takes months or even years to spread in the body. Forms of cancer can even go on remission when caught and treated early.
Cancer treatment can be expensive but if you’ve prepared and lucky, you can live a longer life.
Your options for preparing for health care include:
- Buying a health insurance that cover sex-specific cancers; and
- Setting aside a portion of your investment for specifically for healthcare
5. If you're married,you will outlive your husband
In most countries, women have longer life spans than men. If you’re married in the Philippines and are the same age as your husband, you will outlive him for about 5 years. According to PSA projection, Filipinas born from 2000 to 2005 will live until the age of 70.1 while their male counterparts will live until the age of 64.1. The older your husband is compared to you, the younger you are when he dies.
Women should prepare for this eventuality. Yes, it’s sad (or maybe happy depending on how your relationship is by then), but we have to face facts. This is also a reminder that we need to build rich friendships with other women our age because men will die on us, but we’ll be together, til death do us part.
Kidding aside, you may take the following steps to prepare:
- Make sure that your husband has life insurance so that you can maintain a healthy and comfortable life once he passes away.
- Plan to have sufficient investments that will last your remaining days.
- If possible, purchase insurance for an excellent nursing home or assisted living space.
- Budget for fun and enriching activities
Again, these are the average life expectancy. If you take care of your body, exercise regularly, avoid bad habits such as smoking and heavy drinking that can shorten your life span, go to regular medical check-ups, and keep a healthy mind, it’s highly possible to live past beyond this age. I know 70-year-olds that are still very active and enjoying life.
6. Learn about your retirement accounts
Related to my last point, work to gain in-depth knowledge about your retirement accounts. Even if you’re married and you’re relying on your husband to take care of the accounts. Not only do men have a shorter life span than women, but life is also fleeting and accidents can happen at any time. Nobody is guaranteed a long life.
I’ve heard of older women who were totally left clueless about the family’s finances once their husbands die because the husbands were in charge of the investments. It took them a while to take control of their new financial situation because they had no idea where the money were AND no idea how to handle the finances themselves.
This is why I’m happy that about half of my readers are women who want to be on top of their finances. You’re learning about money, asking great questions about investing, and weighing risks and opportunities.
I’m so happy to finally finish this post about women in the Philippines and financial empowerment. The reason I wrote this post is that I have been scouring the internet for any resource that will tell me the current state of women in our country and how we can prepare for our futures, based on the information. I wasn’t able to find one but then, I remembered a quote by the great Toni Morrison:
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
This is not a book but this is the kind of advice and information that I wanted to see, so I wrote it.
Happy Women’s Month, friends! Let me know what you think in the comments! Add more suggestions on how you think we can financially empower our fellow Filipinas.