NEDA mulls gender equality
In line with the observance of March as International Women’s Month, the National Economic and Development Authority-Cordillera has presented the state of gender and development (GAD) in the region and the plans from this year to 2028 to make it more responsive and inclusive.
Freda Toyoken, NEDA-CAR Planning Unit OIC chief, said the guidelines of the Regional Development Plan provide GAD as one of the cross-cutting topics, together with culture and migration and development, as it targets economic and social transformation and resilient Cordillera.
She reported the region’s development plans, particularly those crafted in the municipal or provincial levels, are observed to be not gender-responsive since there have been no gender disaggregated data, or if there are, these were limited.
Toyoken said updated data is important in planning responsively.
In the next years, the NEDA plans to establish gender disaggregated database and will be complemented by the Regional Development Council with a resolution updating the guidelines in coming up with provincial development plans to include gender and development.
In terms of education, Toyoken reported data showed more women are academic degree holders and had pursued post-baccalaureate studies than men, though men outnumbered women at the preschool, elementary and highschool educational levels.
To address this, the plan is to ensure gender-responsive learning materials, methodologies, and learning spaces.
In establishing livable communities, which means comfortable homes and livable surroundings with accessible basic needs, it was seen that women had limited access to adequate housing, particularly those in the low-income group, solo parents or women who are heads of households.
Toyoken explained this is partly due to the system of land ownership in the region where land instruments are usually assigned to men. The plan is to develop credit and finance options to support housing needs of low-income women and their families and make housing and resettlement designs, including facilities, gender responsive and inclusive taking into consideration the particular needs of female and male household members.
In terms of employment, in 2022 there are still more men than women in the labor force with 73.5 against 49.7 percent, respectively; and women in the agriculture sector received lower income compared to men consistently from 2015 to 2019.
The plan is to expand employment, decent work, and green job opportunities for women in the agriculture, industry, manufacturing, and service sectors, as well as in entrepreneurship; and intensify employment programs for the women, youth, and other marginalized, disadvantaged, and vulnerable sectors.
In terms of infrastructure, it was observed there is still limited participation of women in infrastructure development and there are difficulties in mainstreaming gender concerns in infrastructure and transportation projects.
One of the strategies is to make the improvement of lives and opportunities for women and girls as a policy objective and strengthen adherence to humanized GAD guidelines, social safeguard policies, and laws guaranteeing accessibility for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
In peace and security and administration of justice, rape is consistently an index crime with the second highest rate in the region from 2017 to 2022. Gender-based violence had also persisted.
Toyoken noted this is made worse by the fact most of the perpetrators of gender-based violence were family members or partners of female victims.
To address this, the strategy is to protect and promote women and gender rights and safeguard the welfare of vulnerable groups including children, youth, elderly persons with disability, and internally displaced persons; strengthen victim legal protection and assistance through victim-centered, child-friendly, and gender sensitive assistance mechanism; and sustain monitoring of the functionality of the barangay violence against women helpdesks.
In the practice of good governance and bureaucratic efficiency, Toyoken reported 18 percent or 17 out of 96 elected local chief executives are women and 44 percent or 38 out of 85 heads of agencies in the region are women.
The plan is to encourage more participation of women in politics and governance and implementation of appropriate flexible work arrangements with consideration for gender equality, disability and social inclusion.
Toyoken said the Cordillera Regional Development Plan 2023-2028, which will serve as the blueprint for the region’s socioeconomic development for the next six years, was set to be tackled by the RDC chaired by Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr. which was scheduled to meet last week in Baguio City. – Hanna C. Lacsamana