Noting that the DOLE had already been a forerunner in pursuing gender equality in the 70s, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz last week said the DOLE continues to actively mainstream gender dimension in its policies and programs.

"The DOLE had even pushed for the creation of the then Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW), so that there is a particular agency in the DOLE focusing on the gender inequalities in the labor market," Baldoz said in a keynote message at the DOLE National GAD Planning and Budgeting Conference in Baguio City.

In her address, she outlined the DOLE's accomplishments in response to the recommendations in the ILO-supported 2011 Participatory Gender Audit by DOLE which assessed the quality of gender mainstreaming in DOLE programs for its personnel and clients. 

"I was personally active in this audit if only to convey the priority that I am giving to the program as a woman Secretary of Labor.

The audit provided 12-point key recommendations on gender mainstreaming.

Baldoz said that on the recommendation to make gender analysis a key activity in all planning exercises in the DOLE, it had monitored the outputs of programs and services through the gathering of sex disaggregated data.

"We have done this for the Special Program for the Employment of Students, Career Guidance Advocacy, Labor Market Information, the PESO, and the Philjobnet.

She reported that women SPES beneficiaries for January to September 2013 constitute 46.6 percent of the total number of beneficiaries.

The DOLE, she said, also gather sex disaggregated data on workers welfare and social protection programs, such as the Emergency Employment and Livelihood Programs, Welfare Assistance and Repatriation Services, and Reintegration.

"From this data, we gather that as of September 2013, women constitute 41.9 percent of total livelihood beneficiaries for 2013," Baldoz said.

The labor and employment chief also said the DOLE monitors MDG gender-related employment indicators as part of the Decent Work scorecard, saying that based on the latest labor statistics pertinent to MDG Goal 3 to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector has been declining from 2010 to 2012 by 0.3 percent.

"The same results show a downward trend in the proportion of self-employed women and unpaid family workers to total employment, from 44.6 percent in 2010 to 43.1 percent in 2012. Information such as this is essential in defining programs that promote quality of employment among men and women in the labor force."

On the recommendation towards mainstreaming gender equality in the implementation of program, Baldoz enumerated the following achievements:

Passage of R. A. 10151, or the Nightwork Prohibition Against Women. The DOLE was responsible in proposing to the President's SONA the need to amend Articles 130 to 131 of the Labor Code, which led to the passage of the law in June 2011.

"This literally opened the gates for equal employment opportunities for women in sectors that previously discriminated against them on account of gender and their gender-related needs at the workplace. This milestone in labor policy affords a lot of Filipino women with decent jobs, such as those in the IT and BPO industries," Baldoz explained.

· Adoption of ILO Convention 189, or the Domestic Work Convention, in 2012.

"We achieved this after more than 15 years of advocacy with our stakeholders in the women's sector. We prepared for the ratification of the instrument considering the large number of OFW women workers and in support of the POEA Reform Package for HSWs in 2006," she explained.

"Thus, we worked for the passage into law of the Batas Kasambahay, or RA 10361, which guarantees better working conditions and coverage for social security benefits. With the passage of the law, the DOLE has implemented a convergence of DOLE services which include facilitation of enrolment to SSS, Philhealth and Pag-Ibig and an issuance toward ensuring occupational safety and health for kasambahay and their employers. Both the ratification of the Convention and the law benefitted an average of 155,000 HSWs and 1.9 million domestic workers in the Philippines," she added.

· Included labor standards that seek the protection of women in the workplace in the reforms of the Labor Law Compliance System towards making it more developmental in approach.

According to Baldoz, the reforms include assessment as to the establishment's compliance in granting the special leave benefits for women in the event of gynecological disorders as provided for in the Magna Carta for Women; availment of social security benefits for maternity leave; availment of the Solo Parent Leave; leave for victims of violence against women and their children; and the setting up of workplace lactation stations as provided for in R.A. 10028, or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.

"In addition to these labor laws that must be complied with, the LLCS also actively encourages companies to comply with the 10 components of the Family Welfare Program as provided for in Article 134 of the Labor Code, including reproductive health or responsible parenthood, education or gender equality, spirituality and values formation, among others," she explained.

· Initiated partnership with industry for better labor standards compliance, particularly in a sector with a large female workforce. Recently, the DOLE signed a Partnership Agreement and Joint Action Plan with the Information Technology Business Process Association of the Philippines to promote IT-BPM Best People Practices and Voluntary Compliance with General Labor Standards and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

Baldoz cited as a monumental stride in setting the policy on gender equality the DOLE's decision on the case of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) versus Philippine Airlines. In that decision, Baldoz ruled by resolving the issues involving gender and discrimination in relation to compulsory retirement age, maternity and pregnancy leave benefits and economic package comprising the general wage increase and raise in rice allowance benefiting 1,542 FASAP members.

"The decision did not attract the attention of women rights advocates, but the media has hailed this decision," said Baldoz, citing a two-part column of hard-hitting columnist Conrado de Quiroz of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who called the Court of Appeal decision overturning the DOLE as a "monumental iniquity".

De Quiros hailed Baldoz's decision as one that "added whole new dimensions to "daang matuwid", saying the ruling "was as enlightened and progressive a ruling as you could get."

· Facilitated the effective reintegration of OFWs, mostly women domestic workers, through the Balik-Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program. Since its inception in 2011, the programmed has benefitted 2,612 women OFWs mostly returning to the Philippines due to their displacement from overseas work in war-torn countries or those who went through calamities.

"I recognize that much remains to be done for the DOLE to say that it has, indeed, worked toward gender mainstreaming both in its internal and external environments, but we continue to do the best we can," she finally said.

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