PIDS study bares millions of ‘unpaid’ women agriculture workers in PHL 

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Despite being one of the best places to be a woman, the Philippines is still home to millions of “unpaid” women farmers, according to a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a Policy Note, PIDS Senior Research Fellow Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy said around 35 percent of women in the crop and animal production, hunting and related activities were unpaid.

Women composed around 26 percent of agriculture workers in 2015 and 2014. In 2013 only 25 percent of these workers were women.

“This [number of unpaid women workers] is substantially higher than the proportion of unpaid males in the sector, which is merely 12 percent. In addition, gender and land statistics show that only one in every 10 land titleholders is a female in 2002,” Dacuycuy said.

The plight of women was largely due to traditions and norms, as well as the lack of a gender perspective in agricultural policies.

Traditional role assignments where women are regarded as nurturers and men as providers, women “shoulder a disproportionate burden of the care economy” through housework and taking care of children, the sick and the elderly.

This limits their ability to learn new skills and improve their abilities, as well as their contribution to the growth and development of the economy.

In terms of policies, Dacuycuy said the agriculture and fisheries  mechanization law and the proposed Free Irrigation and Reform and Restructuring Act both fail to address women’s participation in agriculture.

“As a result of these constraints, women may still prefer growing crops that use low external input techniques, such as those that do not need much fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and mechanized equipment. Policies that can address these issues can help make women’s agricultural livelihoods more sustainable,” Dacuycuy said.

In order to address the situation, Dacuycuy said the government needs to institute gender-sensitive policies and measures to address climate change.

She added that men and women are affected by climate change differently, and the government must be able to craft policies that address their needs.

Climate change may cause women to have fewer options to adapt, since they have lower command over land, credit and information. Climate change can also lead to crimes against women and vulnerable minorities.

Dacuycuy also said the government needs to encourage the growth of social enterprises (SEs) and mainstream adaptive social protection (ASP).

Women in the farm sector can benefit from SEs not only through livelihoods but also through the ability of SEs to transform the communities they work in.

ASP, meanwhile, is a concept which refers to the combination of social protection (SP), climate change, adaptation (CCA) and disaster-risk reduction.

Combining SP, CCA and disaster-risk reduction will help women better cope to socioeconomic challenges, as well as the threat of climate change.

“ASP in the rural areas that can be further developed includes public works program and the weather-indexed crop insurance,” Dacuycuy added.

She also urged the government to invest in rural infrastructure that will help open doors not only for men but also women. This will lessen the burden women carry in terms of the care economy.

Efforts to expand gender research are also welcome. Dacuycuy said studies on women’s issues are scarce in the Philippines.




Cai Ordinario

A professional journalist for over a decade, Cai U. Ordinario currently writes macroeconomic and urban development stories for BusinessMirror. She has received awards for excellence in reporting on the macroeconomy and statistics. She was also cited for her contribution to statics reporting by the National Statistical Coordination Board (now the Philippine Statistics Authority). She is a recipient of journalism fellowships including the Jefferson Fellowship from the Honolulu-based East West Center. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Communication at the University of the Philippines. She graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism from the University of Santo Tomas.