THE Philippines topped 50 economies in having fairly represented women in workplaces last year, Mastercard said in its latest study on women’s advancement in business.

According to the global financial services firm, there are three key factors for pushing women to enter business: favorable entrepreneurial framework and conditions characterized by high levels of support for small enterprises; ease of doing business; and access to financial services and academic programs.

Based on The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) 2019, out of 58 nations representing nearly 80% of the world’s female labor force, the Philippines ranked first in the “Women’s Advancement Outcomes” index, which measures women’s progress and degree of marginalization as business leaders, professionals and technical workers, entrepreneurs, and labor force participants.

In the Philippine workplace, the report highlighted, 52% are women business leaders and 58.2% are female professional workers, indicating a fair representation. “Filipino women were also found to be just as likely as their male counterparts to go into entrepreneurship,” it added.

The country, however, lagged behind other Asia Pacific markets when it comes to having women as financial customers and students taking up higher education in colleges (rank 20).

It was also noted that the country’s financial support for small businesses is quite weak, evidenced by the gender gap in access to financial services, perception on physical infrastructure, as well as accessibility, range, and effectiveness of government programs.

Still, the Philippines remained to be one of the countries with the least gender divide when it comes to borrowing or saving for business.

Further, the country got its lowest evaluation (rank 38) for supporting entrepreneurial conditions that advance women’s ability to thrive in business. The index assesses the prevailing entrepreneurial conditions which can either be enablers or constraints for women to own businesses.

“By ensuring that all women in the country can access financial resources such as bank accounts, credit and insurance, and sufficient education, the Philippines will be able to foster a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship and empower women with the right tools and mindset to proactively pursue business,” the firm suggested.

Developed countries, such as the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Ireland, Taiwan, Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Poland were at the top 10 of the overall ranking for the MIWE.

This result reaffirmed the study’s assumption that markets with highly favorable business frameworks and conditions tend to drive women towards entrepreneurship.

The Mastercard study assessing women’s advancement in business first ran in 2017 and is currently in its third year. — Adam J. Ang