Aquino cites women’s role in economy
With more “strong willed and capable” women than men, “is it any surprise that the common Filipino male never questions the authority of Filipinas?”
President Aquino made this remark in jest in his speech before the delegates and guests from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member-economies representing the private sector, academia and civil society.
The 55-year-old bachelor President was the keynote speaker at the Apec Women and the Economy 2015: Public Private Dialogue on Women and the Economy on Thursday.
Mr. Aquino hailed the Filipino women, especially their contribution in improving the country’s economy with their business sense, hard work and strong will.
“I believe it is intrinsic to our society: We see women as superior in many aspects, including prudent budgeting and focusing on the advancement of the family as a whole… That is precisely why we are here: to express our collective belief that harnessing the talents and potential of all women can bring about inclusive progress sooner rather than later,” the President said.
Citing figures from the Department of Trade and Industry, he said that women own 54 percent of all registered trade names.
Taking note of an Asian Institute of Management survey, the President added that some 63 percent of managers and owners of businesses are women.
Filipino women are particularly involved in micro, small and medium enterprises, he said. They account for 63.7 percent of the country’s total employment.
“Seeing these numbers, one has to wonder, myself included, if perhaps in 10 years time, gender equality in the Philippines will be about men’s emancipation, and no longer women’s emancipation. Actually some of our married brethren are telling me it will not happen in 10 years, but it’s actually a goal that should be reached now,” the President said, drawing laughter from his audience.
Aside from women entrepreneurs, Mr. Aquino also noted how strong women are also helping run the government, naming, among others, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Health Secretary Janette Garin, Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima and Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.
“Over the last five years, these women have bullishly pursued necessary reforms and have refused to back down, even in the face of those with great power and influence, and deeply entrenched interests. They are pillars of our administration’s reform agenda and they are living proof to young people who wish to enter public service that they will not be defined by their gender, but rather, by their integrity, their work ethic and their willingness to serve,” the President said.
Despite the great strides taken by the Filipino women, President Aquino vowed to continue providing opportunities for them, taking note that the issue of gender equality still “calls for continuous reflection and corresponding action.”
“For this reason, we must always approach our jobs, and even our smallest interactions with people, with the empathy, consideration and respect necessary to create a truly inclusive society. Rest assured, the Philippines will remain your partner in expanding opportunities for women, and I am hopeful that your discussions today will continue to move us closer to a world where no one is left behind,” the President said.