President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday hailed Filipino women as “better partners” for the country’s goal of inclusive growth.
During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC’s) Women and the Economy fora in Manila, Aquino said the contributions of women to Philippine society helped spur economic growth.
He noted that 54 percent of trade names registered with the Department of Trade and Industry belong to women. A survey by the Asian Institute of Management also showed that about 63 percent of business managers and owners are women.
Women are largely into micro, small and medium enterprises, which account for 63.7 percent of the country’s total employment.
“Our goal is to have an inclusive economy, and if it is clear that women are the better partners towards having inclusive growth, then it behooves government to provide even more opportunities to women entrepreneurs,” Aquino said.
He cited the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) partnership with Coca-Cola for the TESDA-STAR or Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources Program. “Sari-sari” or variety stores are small, neighborhood retail stores.
“Through this initiative, we are train¬ing women in bookkeeping, inventory management, accounting, and other disciplines—essentially helping them to profession¬alize and formalize their approach toward typically informal enterprises,” he said.
Women under the TESDA-STAR program are also being taught to maximize the utility of their profits.
“From December of 2011 to June of this year, this program has produced 33,315 graduates, with the goal of eventually training around 200,000 Filipinas,” Aquino said.
The president also cited examples of women who are helping push the admi¬nistration’s inclusive growth platform, like Marife Zamora, chairperson of Convergys Philippines Services Corp.
He said Zamora offered to join the government to help with the reform efforts. “I said that maybe she can help even more by staying in her sector and aiding the economy by expanding their workforce.”
“Now, five years into my term, their company is providing—not 30,000 jobs—but 60,000 jobs to Filipinos,” he said. “Her company’s performance makes me very glad that I declined her offer to move to government,” he added.
The World Economic Forum report sees the Philippines as the only Asian country closing the gender gap.
“Our performance in this index will not stop us from pursuing even more progress. Women still face a number of pressing issues, and the issue of gender equality calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action,” Aquino said.