Policy toolkit for healthy women, economy
THE ASIA-PACIFIC Economic Cooperation (Apec) recently launched a health policy toolkit, which contains a menu of concrete recommendations geared toward boosting the participation and contribution of women to the regional and global economy.
Presented in recent briefing, the “Healthy Women, Healthy Economic Policy Toolkit” is expected to make it easier for governments and businesses to introduce health policies that facilitate the participation of women in economies, thus opening the door to potentially significant improvements in social mobility and growth across the region.
The Policy Toolkit is seen to benefit some 865 million women identified to have the potential to contribute more to their economies. The recommendations presented have been classified into five areas: Workplace health and safety; health access and awareness; sexual and reproductive health; gender-based violence, and work life balance.
Philippine Health Undersecretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial noted that while compliance to the health toolkit was voluntary among Apec member economies, stressed the significance of pursuing the recommendations as there had been evidence of significant economic improvements and other collateral benefits in involving women in the economy.
According to Rosell-Ubial, the Philippine Department of Health, for instance, is already looking at providing grants of up to P500,000 for each company that will comply with the health toolkit. The agency is setting aside P5 million to pilot the project with an initial 10 companies.
“We are asking our private sector partners in an economic zone in Pampanga to adopt the tool kit in the form of score card. The DOH will give points to these companies that adopt certain practices identified in the toolkit. If they get higher points, 90 or higher, they get a green mark; yellow mark for a score between 70-89; and red for those below 70 points,” Rosell-Ubial explained.
“We will give grants to those with green scores. The grants will be used to enhance programs and document the effect of such programs on workplace productivity and business improvement. In the next Apec meetings, we will be sharing these experiences with other economies,” she added.
Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, in the meantime, stressed the significance of the health toolkit and of women contributing to their respective economies across the region.
“Women in the Apec represent more than 50 percent of its population. Currently in the 21 Apec economies, 600 million are in the labor force. When health barriers inhibit women from entering and remaining in the workforce, it costs the economies a lot of money. A United Nations report states that limits to women’s participation across the Apec region cost the economy $89 billion every year. Literally, healthy women population means healthy economies,” Terrado noted.
“There are ample public and private support for advancing women’s economic empowerment. The problem is where to start. The toolkit being launched today provides that framework and a map on how to prime the initiative. The Department of Trade and Industry and the DOH have made significant progress in working with the private sector and Apec to realize our objective of concretizing into action the consensus reached in various Apec fora for making women as prime movers of inclusive growth,” she added.
“There is a real need to narrow gaps in the understanding of the relationship between women’s health, participation in the economy and economic outcomes,” concluded Belén Garijo, CEO of Merck Healthcare, who also served as co-chair of the Experts Group that oversaw the drafting of the toolkit. “The new opportunity we have today to define gender-balanced health policies and support implementation work bodes well for the building of inclusive economies into the future.”
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