The United Nations Population Fund-Philippines (UN FPA) recently presented a study that says that women in the most disadvantaged sectors work longer hours which results in greater risk of catching the COVID-19.
Civil society groups and their government partners researched among women in the urban poor, rural poor, and internally displaced persons.
“We confirmed that women’s care work did grow longer, riskier, stigmatized, and underpaid. But we also have evidence that men took on a larger share of domestic work,” said Aimee Santos who is the national gender officer of the UN FPA. She was also the one who presented the study in an online forum.
She added that the study did not claim to represent regions but only the picture of the most vulnerable sectors and how they were coping with the situation. The sectors were also hard to reach as they’re the ones who badly need the government’s help but could not have access to something as simple as the internet.
With the help of 25 partner government agencies and the local civil society groups, 100 interviewees from UN FPA talked to around 950 women during the height of the then two-month lockdown and found out how they were coping.
799 of the women came from the urban poor sector of six cities in the National Capital Region, Bicol, and Samar. They have also internally displaced persons in Batangas and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Meanwhile, 151 of their respondents were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who returned from places like Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
She said labor participation and unemployment statistics before COVID-19 showed that women were already taking in more work than the men. The 2019 labor statistics showed that the participation rate of women when it comes to labor force was 39 percent and men’s were at 61 percent. However, the unemployment rate among women was only at 38.6 percent while men’s unemployment rate is at 61.4 percent.
Santos then stated that women doing more work doesn’t mean that they were receiving enough wages. She added that even if women worked outside of their home, they still carried the burden of housework as soon as they step inside the household.
“Many of them are still underemployed and employed in informal economic jobs. Yet, we see this in the graph that men are taking on three to four more work hours of the care work than they used to. Laba, luto, taking care of children, most of the work that used to be considered pambabae.”
She then said that the study aimed to strengthen the government’s COVID-19 response and make it gender-sensitive by showing how women and men experience the pandemic differently and how they are coping with it.
“How are women, men, girls, boys experiencing pandemic differently? Has this pandemic leveled the playing field or deepened the gender gap? Are we able to help the women and girls who are already at the edge of the cliff before COVID-19 came? Have we helped them pull back or have we pushed them off the cliff?”