NCRFW bats for economic empowerment to boost women’s rights

Women and men as partners in steering the society’s economic development is the core of this year’s celebration of the National Women’s Month.

The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), the government’s machinery for women’s advancement, focuses on the promotion of women’s economic rights by having full, decent, productive employment through agri-business and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The NCRFW in collaboration with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) successfully held the Go Negosyo: Babae, Yaman Ka ng Bayan!” -the biggest women entrepreneurship summit on March 2, 2009 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City where more than 5,000 women and men from various sectors of the society attended the event as one of the highlights of the 2009 Women’s Month Celebration.

“Society cannot progress without the contributions of women, who comprise more than half of our population. Women cannot contribute significantly when barriers hinder their access and use of economic opportunities,” NCRFW Chair Myrna T. Yao said.

Chair Yao, likewise, noted women’s roles as agents of economic development are often disregarded.

“We cannot discount the reality that social roles, cultural restrictions, household burdens such as child rearing often limit women’s options to seek other sources of income,” she added.

In the recent women entrepreneurship summit, women were given access to information about starting a business. Successful women entrepreneurs shared tips on how to overcome the difficulties in setting up businesses. The summit also addressed the need to have a work and family life balance and shared responsibility between couples in order to provide quality time for the family. With the current economic crisis, Filipino families need additional sources of income to move out of poverty.

Meanwhile, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Philippine Report 2006-2007) cited that more than half of nascent business owners (69 percent) and new business owners (51 percent) are female. However, this trend changes when it comes to established business owners who are still dominantly male (66 percent).

The gender gap, the report noted, reflects the unique role that women play in starting up a business during the critical and fragile stage until such time that stability is achieved and the husband takes over.

This also reaffirms the traditional view that males are breadwinners in the Filipino family, while women are seen to go into business only to augment family income.

The NCRFW is hoping to change this mindset and aims to empower Filipino women to become productive and important players in moving up the country’s economy.