The Philippines slid two places to 116 in the latest annual ranking of efforts by countries to improve human development measures, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report showed.
According to the 2016 Human Development Report (HDR), the Philippines dropped 2 notches to 116 in 2015 from 114 in 2014. The report reflects a one year lag in its assessment of 188 countries.
The HDR report measures improvements in three basic dimensions of human development: long and healthy life, access to knowledge and decent standard of living, which form the human development index (HDI).
In 2015, the Philippines scored 0.682 (on a scale of 0 to 1.00) in the HDI, or under the “medium human development” category, together with neighbors Indonesia, Vietnam, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The current HDR report noted the top five European economies were Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, while the bottom five were Burundi, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Central African Republic.
Even though the Philippines’ overall ranking declined last year, the actual score showed a slight improvement from 0.679.
The HDR lauded the Philippines in its effort to continue the progress in women’s empowerment.
“The Women Development Act in the Philippines allows women to borrow money, obtain loans, execute security and credit arrangements and access loans in agrarian reform and land resettlement programs under the same conditions as men,” it said.
It noted the Philippines’ improvement in promoting human development for marginalized groups. “The Philippines offers special voter registration facilities before election day and express lanes for voters with disabilities,” it said.
In terms of social protection, the report took note of the conditional cash transfer program which reached 4.4 million families in 2015, or 21 percent of the population.
Eighty-two percent of the benefits went to the poorest 40 percent of the population.
Between 1990 and 2015, the Philippine HDI value increased from 0.586 to 0.682, a 16.3 percent improvement, the UNDP reported noted.
“Between 1990 and 2015, Philippines’ life expectancy at birth increased by 3.0 years, mean years of schooling increased by 2.7 years and expected years of schooling increased by 0.9 years,” it said.
It noted that the Philippine per capita gross national income increased by 111.9 percent in the 25 years to 2015.
Nevertheless, the report finds that while the average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development.
“The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone, she added.
“By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing the unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all,” Clark said.
On the other hand, lead author and Director of the Human Development Report Office Selim Jahan said universal human development is attainable despite progress gaps.
“Over the last decades, we have witnessed achievements in human development that were once thought impossible,” Jahan said.
Since 1990, 1 billion people have escaped extreme poverty and women’s empowerment has become a mainstream issue, according to the report. While as recently as the 1990s, very few countries legally protected women from domestic violence, today, 127 countries do, it said.
The importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build on these gains cannot be overestimated, the reported noted, saying the agenda and human development approach are mutually reinforcing.