By Manny Villar
We celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday. I am sure many of us used the occasion to show our Nanays, Inays, Moms, and Mommies, how much we love them. In this column, I would like to pay tribute to all the Filipino mothers who have shattered the stereotype and have successfully balanced working hard for the family and raising their family. It is a difficult job but our Filipino women should be commended for their “sipag at tiyaga” and love as far as the future of their loved ones is concerned.
This is specially true for Overseas Filipino Workers. OFW mothers make the supreme sacrifice of leaving their own children oftentimes to take care of other people’s children. It is something that they do not want to do, but something they need to do in order to provide their children with education, food, and shelter.
There was a time when our society relegated mothers to the home, cleaning the house and taking care of the kids while fathers work. That is no longer the case. Women have proven themselves competent in doing whatever work that was previously exclusive to men. We should appreciate the fact that women now serve in our military and the police force. In fact, some women even topped the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in past years.
We have women who have been elected to government positions. We have a lot of women who lead and work in businesses and industries. Many have supplemented their household income by driving tricycles, jeepneys, taxis, and Grab cars. My hope is that we get much more women as entrepreneurs — starting their own enterprises, generating jobs for others and prosperity for their family.
According to the 2017 Gender Statistics on Labor and Employment, the gap in the Labor Force Participation Rate was 28.3 in 2016. This is an increase from the previous year’s gap rate of 27.2. In 2016, the Labor Force Participation Rate of women stood at 49.3% compared to the men which stood at 77.6%.
One area where women participation should increase is in construction. With the Duterte administration fast-tracking many of its infrastructure projects, employment opportunities have increased for Filipino workers. Women should be able to equally access construction work and be able to increase their household income.
The fact is that women are rarely considered for construction employment. But we need to be able to give them equal access to jobs at construction sites. This would address the gap in employment needs and the labor force requirements of the flourishing infrastructure development both in the private and public sector.
In fact, in our business we have started the process of providing more jobs to women in our construction projects. I think this will empower women not only because it will debunk the myth that women are not apt for construction work but also because it will allow them to contribute significantly to their household income and in the longer run, to the national economy.
I am also glad that the infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways are not just in Metro Manila but are spread out all over the country. Government has embarked on a “Build, Build, Build” initiative as well as a “Link, Link, Link” approach where roads and bridges are being built to link our islands (especially the Visayas and Mindanao) in order to spur rural development. This way development is more equitable among the regions of the country.
By reducing the gender gap in construction, we are also allowing women to take on tasks previously exclusive to men. We are empowering our Filipinas as they contribute to building this great nation of ours, brick by brick.