NCRFW cites the need for social protection measures for women in informal economy

The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), the government’s machinery for the advancement of women recognizes the need for a tighter coordination and sustained collaboration among government agencies, the private sector, labor unions, women’s groups and the civil society for the implementation of social protection measures that would protect women and men in the informal economy.

According to NCRFW Chairperson Myrna T. Yao, the government’s role in financing social protection is not necessarily limited to direct provision of social protection services or enforcement of labor standards.

“It should provide the enabling environment for more coordinated actions among financial institutions, business groups, development organizations, and the intended beneficiaries. Government can advocate and encourage actions from other key players such as microfinance facilities, people’s cooperatives and community-based organizations, and even from multinational companies,” she said.

In the recent Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Social Protection of Women in the Informal Economy spearheaded by the NCRFW with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Chair Yao said that among the effective measures that government across the world have already instituted include the provision of tax incentives, tax holidays or price subsidies to micro and small producers. Other forms of assistance include skills enhancement activities, establishment of marketing networks and policy advocacy events.

In the said forum, over a hundred representatives from government agencies, local government units, women’s organizations and cooperatives have gathered to look into the country’s policies and programs on social protection and the implications of their implementation on women in micro-enterprises.

Chair Yao said that business companies including the private sector, cooperatives and civil society which employ poor workers, especially women, should provide the required benefits of workers even beyond those already required by law to ensure better protection from health, medical and other work impairing problems and concerns. Such benefits and social protection measures may include food subsidy, hospitalization and accident assistance, and burial services.

“It is important, however, that social protection measures are tailored accordingly to meet the needs of the poor. For women, such measures must take into consideration their multiple needs and roles, particularly in the context of pregnancy, lactation, child rearing and home management,” Yao explained during the forum.

Chair Yao also stressed that social protection schemes would contribute to the Millennium Development Goals if these are made available to the low-income groups especially to women who constitute the largest percentage of those in the informal labor sector.

“Investing in social protection confers huge benefits for pro-poor growth. It is an effective strategy to achieve economic empowerment of women,” she added.