JOB SEEKERS attend a job fair in Manila, May 31, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

WOMEN-LED labor union expressed concern over the weekend that the higher unemployment rate among females might be indicative of cultural precepts that women should prioritize unpaid domestic work in the household.

Citing results of the September Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that joblessness in September was higher for females at 5.2% than males at 4.1%, the Federation of Free Workers Women’s Network (FWN) said women jobseekers easily face discrimination for their domestic roles.

“Even if they (women) apply for a job, employers still ask them if they are married because employers think they will have a hard time at work if they are married or have children,” FWN President Maria Victoria G. Bellosillo said.

Other factors contributing to the gender disparity in terms of employment are the lower pay for female workers compared to their male counterparts and harassment in the workplace.

The FWN has been lobbying for the implementation of a national wage increase to address the gender pay gap.

“Support for a higher minimum wage is crucial because there is still a gender pay gap experienced by female workers, where the average basic pay for men is still higher than that of women,” FWN focal person for gender equality Anna Leah Colina, speaking in Filipino, said.

Ms. Colina added that women workers in the electronic manufacturing industry face the brunt of its decline as they experience reduced working hours. September LFS results showed that the industry dropped 888,000 workers year on year.

“We feel the economic crunch in the manufacturing sector, and it’s affecting women. In electronics, where the majority of workers are women, there’s a slowdown in global demand, leading to temporary shutdowns, resulting in a ‘no work, no pay’ situation, and a reduction in their work days,” she said.

Ms. Bellosillo said that aside from equal pay and benefits, women employees’ rights must be respected by providing them sufficient parental leave and breastfeeding areas in workplaces.

She also emphasized the call against workplace harassment against women as President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. endorsed the ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention (ILO C190) which establishes the right of workers against violence and harassment. She said harassment in the workplace caused some women to leave their workplace and distress in their mental health. — Jomel R. Paguian