Leadership and Political Participation

The Philippine Constitution guarantees the fundamental equality of women and men before the law and recognizes the role of women in nation building. Further, Section 11 of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) provides for the acceleration of women’s participation and equitable representation in decision-making and policy-making processes in government and private entities to fully realize their role as agents and beneficiaries of development.

Though developments for women in politics and decision making are promising, growth has been slow and the proportion of women and men in this area is still far from equal.The country may have had two women leaders, former Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who came into power through the EDSA I and EDSA II people’s revolt, however, men’s domination in the political arena remains apparent. The 2007 data from the Commission on Elections reveal a total of 2,881 women in national, provincial and municipal elected positions which translate to only 17 percent share of the total turnout, 83 percent of those elected were men.

In the recent years, the trend was that women occupy only less than one-third of third level positions in the government; more than one-third in government owned and controlled corporations; less than 20 percent in local government units; and more than one-third in the judiciary. Overall, the proportionate share is 1:2 in favor of men holding top posts in the government (Civil Service Commission,“Women’s Participation and Representation: A Major State Obligation Under the Magna Carta of Women. 2011).

Women are faced with numerous obstacles to partake a bigger role in politics and decision making. These obstacles include gender stereotyping, multiple burdens and lack of political education and support from political parties. To address these concerns and make women’s presence in the field of governance more apparent and cognizable, several measures need to be implemented. These measures include leadership and capability development programs for women, advocacy for shared responsibility in the home, and the full implementation of the temporary special measures of the MCW, as well as of other related laws and policies. It is deemed that through these undertakings, parity between males and females in political participation and representation shall be achieved.