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CAR needs to double efforts in gender equality
by Maurice Malanes

The United Nations has embarked on ambitious goals, the top of which is to make extreme poverty a thing of the past.

The UN in 2000 launched what it called the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs, which it set following a Millennium Summit where 189 member-states adopted the UN Millennium Declaration. These UN member-states and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the MDGs by 2015.

The MDGs included eight goals, three of which particularly focused on women. These were related to universal primary education, gender equality and empowering women, and maternal health.

The other goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; reduce child mortality rates; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

The ambitious goals are actually inter-related. For example, the goal of achieving universal primary education for both boys and girls and the goal of establishing equal opportunities for both women and men are related to Goal 1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, that is.

One advantage of setting the MDGs is that all UN member-states, including the Philippines, have been obligated to institute programs to meet the 2015 targets. But barely a year before the set target, progress towards the goals was uneven, according to a UN conference in September 2010, which reviewed progress of how the goals were implemented.

Some countries achieved many goals, while others were not on track to realize any. The Philippine government has instituted programs for the MDGs. That the government can meet all the targets by 2015, however, is a tall order.

Universal primary education

The Cordillera has set its own targets to meet the eight MDGs.

Under Goal 2, CAR sought to achieve universal primary education for all. The CAR aimed to ensure that, by 2015, children in the whole region, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course in primary education.

Unfortunately, the net enrollment ratio in primary education, for both boys and girls, dramatically declined in almost 20 years since 1990, according to data by the National Statistical Coordination Board-CAR.

The net enrollment ratio in primary education was 93.3 percent in 1990, but this dropped to 75.3 percent in 2009. The same thing happened for pupils who entered first grade but not all get to reach grade 6.

The proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 6 was 60.5 percent (60 pupils out of every hundred enrolees) in 1990. In 2010, this figure rose to 64 percent, which is still a long way off the 100 percent target in 2015.

It was not surprising that the rate of pupils who get to complete primary school was low and continues to be so. The primary education completion rate was 77.8 percent in 1991 and worse, it went further down to 62.8 percent in 2010, five years before 2015 when the target is 100 percent.

If there was any good news, the literacy rate of 15 to 24-year olds was 88.8 in 1994, which increased to 94.8 percent in 2008. But this pace is still slow, according to NSCB-CAR, citing that the ideal should be 100 percent.

Gender equality and women empowerment

Two jargon phrases have dominated the feminist movement, civil society and later government and the UN in recent decades: “gender equality” and “women empowerment.”

Gender equality, also known as sex equality, sexual equality or equality of the genders, refers to the view that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against based on gender, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment.

This is the objective of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which seeks to create equality in law and in social situations, such as in democratic activities and securing equal pay for equal work.

Unsurprisingly, the two catch phrases of “gender equality” and “women empowerment” comprised Goal 3 of the MDGs. To achieve this goal, the UN has targeted to “eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and to all levels of education no later than 2015.”

But here’s another bad news for CAR: The ratio of girls to boys in primary education was 0.9 percent in 1993, which remained in 2010. The ideal ratio is 1, which is the 2015 target.

The ratio of girls to boys in secondary education has improved a bit in 1992, 1.1 which became 1.0 in 2010.

But the ratio of girls to boys in tertiary education was 1.3 in 2003 and 1.4 in 2009. The ideal ratio should still be 1.0, according to the MDG target.

Among 15 to 24-year olds, the ratio of literate females to males is almost perfect – both 0.9 in 1994 and 2003. Still, the target should be 1.0.

At the national scene, the latest progress report of the UNDP showed that females have fared consistently better than males. “Since 1990s, females maintain higher rates of cohort survival and completion rates than males in all levels of education.” However, the UNDP said there is a gender disparity in favor of females in terms of enrollment in high school and college.

The UNDP said one of the most cited reasons behind this gender disparity is that males get out of the education system because they either need to work to help augment their household income or they had lower motivation in going to school.

Women in the region apparently are doing well on the labor front. The share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector was 69.2 percent in 2003. Although this dropped to 64.6 percent in 2004, this apparently shows there were a good number of employed women as there are more idle or unemployed men.

But the MDG target should be 50 percent to avoid imbalance. More idle men means greater burden for their wives, who would be forced to seek remedies to help make both ends meet.

Women leaders

Apparently lacking in the NSCB-CAR statistics is the proportion of political seats held by women in the Cordillera.

The NSCB noted that on the national level, the proportion of seats held by women in the national Congress (both Lower House and Senate) was only 11.3 percent in 1992, which rose to 26 percent in 2013. The 2015 target is 50 percent.

The proportion of seats held by women in regional, provincial, municipal or city, and local political seats must be almost the same with the national Congress.

But regardless of the absence of figures on the number of Cordillera women political leaders, there were quite a few of them who have been creating ripples in their own communities.

If there is any consolation, some local women leaders have proved to be better implementers and more innovative in their governance than many of their male counterparts.

Mayor Edna Tabanda of La Trinidad in Benguet is one of them. Among other accomplishments, she has proved to be effective in implementing a liquor ban in Benguet’s capital town.

She has also organized women patrols, armed only with flashlights. These women patrols have succeeded in persuading husbands and fathers to go home early and help their wives in rearing their children in household chores such as feeding pigs, for those who have backyard piggeries, or do the laundry.

Undoubtedly, community members wish the tribe of women leaders like Tabanda to increase.

Another Tabanda is also crafting significant ordinances that protect and enhance the quality of life of women.

Baguio City Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda authored the Gender Equality Code and other ordinances that generally address women issues, such as free medical checkup for senior citizens in barangay health centers.

Through the committee on women and youth affairs, which she also chairs, she has also partnered with non-government organizations that aim to empower women by educating them of their rights. The committee has also initiated projects for the livelihood training of women, all in the bid to empower them.

Mothers’ health

Goal 5 in the MDGs is to improve maternal (mothers’) health. For CAR, the target is to reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality (birth delivery-related deaths) ratio.

According to the NSCB-CAR, the maternal mortality ratio was 99.0 percent in 1990 and by 2010, there was almost no record of expectant mothers’ deaths – only 0.7, which was even far lower than the MDG 2015 target of 24.8 percent.

Still, the proportion of births attended by skilled personnel is way behind the 2015 target of 100 percent – 80.3 percent in 1990 and lightly increased to 86.6 percent in 2010.


Besides the picture provided through statistics by government agencies such as the NSCB, women can assess and explore other areas in government with which to improve their lives.

And unknown to many women and other citizens are already-established institutions and structures, which they can actually tap or engage with to help empower them.

Through their organizations such as 4-H Clubs, Rural Improvement Clubs and other mothers’ associations, women can engage government and access government resources, which are actually allocated for them.

For example, Baguio City has a Gender and Development Council, which has a budget as it is already part of the city government structure. More women can participate in this council, which has been tackling issues and concerns about women empowerment through leadership and skills training, discrimination and violence against women, livelihood, building cooperatives, among others.

Other cities and municipalities in the region definitely have GAD councils, which have budgets. The GAD budget, if put to good use, can go a long way in helping train more women engage in productive ventures to help empower them.
Other news
:: CAR’s toilet and water woes, issues on hygiene addressed
:: The electric dream goes on for Cordillera’s remote sitios
:: Rising above poverty –– still an MDG challenge in CAR
:: Bridging traditional and modern maternal care
:: Perspective on Cordillera’s progress along the MDGs
:: Aiming for a responsible and AIDS–free generation
:: Increasing forest covers and wildlife conservation glitches
:: The rewards, challenges of bringing children to school
:: The Millenium Dev’t Goals: Towards a better future
:: CAR’s own ‘branchifying’ festival–versions
:: Convergence efforts key to sustain gains beyond 2015
:: Mobilizing TB prevention initiatives through CorCat

Informatics Institute
InterContinental Hotels Group
Medline International Training Institute Baguio
National Economic and Development Authority

Baguio Central University
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Education – CAR
Department of Health – CAR
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
MMS Development Training Center Corporation
Municipality of La Trinidad
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
University of the Philippines

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Baguio Memorial Chapels Inc.
Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc.
Benguet State University
BSBT College Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
Commission on Higher Education – CAR
Congressman Nicasio M. Aliping Jr.
Cordillera School of Digital Arts
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Dreamforce Review and Training Center
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Ganza and Solibao Restaurants
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
John Hay Management Corporation
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
NARDA’S / WINACA Eco Cultural Village
NIIT Baguio
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Montessori
Philippine Information Agency – CAR
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – COR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
STI College Baguio
The Manor


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