Lack of social services hinders women’s full development

BULATLAT FILE PHOTO. Members of Kadamay who are presently occupying houses in Pandi, Bulacan listening to speakers of leaders from Manila during the people's caravan in support to #OccupyBulacan, March 18. (Photo by A. Umil/Bulatlat)
BULATLAT FILE PHOTO. Members of Kadamay who are presently occupying houses in Pandi, Bulacan listening to speakers of leaders from Manila during the people’s caravan in support to #OccupyBulacan, March 18. (Photo by A. Umil/Bulatlat)

“Ninety percent of the housing needs for 2012 to 2030 are on the lower-end cost, meaning it should be economic, socialized, and subsidized. More than 1.45 million housing units need to be state-subsidized for families who cannot afford the high cost of units being offered by the real estate companies.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat

MANILA – Women are said to hold half the sky, but are actually burdened by more than that, as they still typically bear the brunt of child-rearing and domestic work, alongside working to augment the family income.

The worsening poverty and decreasing social services keep women tied up to that stereotyped, limiting “place in the home.”

“With the double task as worker and homemaker, women are constrained from fully participating in paid work. The relative high fertility rates will continue to raise the demand for women’s unpaid labor time, especially given the low availability of child care services,” said the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) on its annual report on women’s situation.

The report revealed that at least 9.5 million or 29 percent of women are economically inactive due to household or family duties. The percentage of men tied at home, on the other hand, is only at 3 percent or 1 million.

Citing a study by J. Tiefenthaler, the CWR report showed that 84 percent of the total household time of Filipino women is devoted to child care. With the limited program for childcare service in the Philippines, women get little to no support in taking care of their children.

Many stay-at-home moms engage in home-based or sub-contract jobs, but they are not counted as part of the labor force. The report said that they are categorized in the census data as “unpaid family labor, working in the background or largely invisible in the workforce.”

A 2011 data of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) showed that only 4,570 villages out of 42,026 in the whole Philippines have put up their own daycare centers. Even so, DSWD said that that establishing daycare centers in every village “will not guarantee the delivery of quality early childhood care services to all children aged zero to four years old, especially in regions or barangays with high birth rates.”

Privatization of health services affect women

Women carry the heaviest burden in the family, not only when the household income is not enough, but especially when basic social services are lacking. The privatization of government health services makes it doubly difficult for women.

The report said that government’s share in total health expenditure consistently decreased from 37 percent in 1994, to 17 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, the share of private out-of-pocket payments has increased from 56 percent in 1994, to 67 percent in 2014.

The Department of Health’s adoption of the Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA) in 1999 did not make it easier for women to have access to public health care. The report said the objective of the HSRA is only to expand social health insurance, like PhilHealth, and to corporatize government hospitals.

“Basically, the aim is to privatize health care services and to relieve the government of its responsibilities in providing and allocating funds for public health,” the CWR report read.

CWR said 12 Filipino women die every day from childbirth and pregnancy-related complications. Also, about 12 women die of cervical cancer every day. The Philippines also has the highest incidence of breast cancer in world, which increased to 589 percent in a period of over 30 years.

“Poor women are more at risk and vulnerable because they lack the resources to maintain a healthy body, as well as get medical attention when afflicted with diseases,” the study read.

Low-cost houses, not malls

Meanwhile, poor women and their families also continue to suffer homelessness. In the urban area, homes of informal settlers are being demolished to pave the way for real estate businesses and “development projects.” These businesses are controlled by only four big real estate companies, namely: Megaworld Corporation owned by Andrew Tan, SM Development Corporation of the Sy family, DMCI Homes of David Consunji, and Ayala Land, Inc. owned by the Ayala family.

The report also showed that the land occupied by SM malls alone has a total land area of 5.577 million square meters. Cham Perez, senior researcher of the CWR said that this massive land area could have been developed for housing projects of the urban poor families, instead of malls.

BULATLAT FILE PHOTO. More housing units being built in Pandi Village 2, (Photo by A. Umil/Bulatlat)
BULATLAT FILE PHOTO. More housing units being built in Pandi Village 2, (Photo by A. Umil/Bulatlat)

Citing data from urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) Perez said 21,516 individuals were driven away from their homes under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, while around 4,000 families have been displaced under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The report also cited a projection by the Department of Trade and Industry that shows the growing need of the poor for housing.

“Ninety percent of the housing needs for 2012 to 2030 are on the lower-end cost, meaning it should be economic, socialized, and subsidized. More than 1.45 million housing units need to be state-subsidized for families who cannot afford the high cost of units being offered by the real estate companies,” the report read.

The situation can be reversed

Neoliberal policies have been implemented in the Philippines for decades, but have never uplifted the lives of the Filipino people, Perez said. Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority’s data, the report said one in every four Filipino is poor. Poverty incidence also did not significantly decrease from 27.9 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2015, even with the government’s poverty alleviation program, another neoliberal policy, called Conditional Cash Transfer Program.

CWR has joined other people’s organizations in supporting the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as it will discuss Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Rights (Caser) that will address issues plaguing the Filipino people, such as poverty.

The Caser is the second of the four substantive agenda in the peace negotiation.

Among the features of this agenda, based on the draft of the NDFP exchanged with the GRP, is the provision on women’s rights and gender equality. If signed, the GRP is obligated to reverse policies such as privatization and corporatization of public hospitals.

Among such provisions in the NDFP Caser draft, Article VII on Women’s rights and gender equality, are:

Both Parties shall ensure women’s access to adequate and affordable housing.
– The GRP shall also repeal the reproductive health law and put in place a program ensuring comprehensive women’s health care, reproductive health and sex education for young women.
– Social services that will lighten housework and other family duties for women, but not limited to low-cost meals, public laundry services, free daycare and nurseries and milk banks.
– Ensuring female household heads and single parents receive all necessary benefits and social services, including but not restricted to children’s education and health care.

Perez said the scrapping of neoliberal policies that hinder women’s growth and development will lead to women’s emancipation. ()

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