AN ambitious measure has been filed today at the House of Representatives seeking to establish a quota for the proportion of women occupying elective and appointive positions in government beginning in 2007.

House Bill 5496, or the Gender Balance Act of 2006, wants 30 percent of all positions in the bureaucracy, military, police, government-owned and controlled corporations and other agencies, alloted to women starting next year. Political parties shall also reserve for women 30 percent of their official candidates for national and local posts.

The proportion will increase to 40 percent by 2010, and further to one-half in 2013.

The proposal was filed by Akbayan representatives, Ana Theresa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Loretta Ann Rosales, and Mario Aguja. The lawmakers hope to steer the country the way of an increasing number of nations that have, in the past many years, established gender quotas in their bureaucracies.

“The goal,” the three lawmakers said in their explanatory note to the measure, “is not simply to give flesh to the country’s commitments to various women and human-rights-related international agreements, but to have a critical mass of women in political decision-making institutions that will significantly strengthen the push for women’s agenda.” (Read those agreements here and here.)

“If enacted, this measure will be a significant step toward strengthening the empowerment of women,” Grace Bernabe, of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) told PCIJ.

Bernabe said she hopes HB 5496 will be able to hurdle this 13th Congress, and not suffer the fate of similar measures that have been repeatedly filed, in the preceding three other congressional terms.

At the same time, Bernabe said, it is important to develop the “quality” of women who sit in government. “We should not stop with the numbers. Will they in fact strengthen the women’s agenda?”

Rep. Baraquel and her co-authors regard having a gender quota in government as a significant step “to fast track meaningful and relevant political participation for women.”

At present, according to an analysis done by the NCRFW, Filipino women have what the Commission calls “dismal” participation as decision-makers in the public sector. In 2004, the NCRFW says, the average proportion of women in key elected posts was no more than 17 percent.

Overall, according to the NCRFW, while women make up the bulk of the bureaucracy, “they seem unable to break the glass ceiling,” and continue to occupy the lower technical or secondary-level positions; they remain excluded from the top managerial and decision-making seats.

HB 5496 draws inspiration from countries that have taken steps to widen the representation of women in power structures in the public sphere.

For example, the bill’s authors note, Finland has a law requiring that at least 40 percent of each sex can be appointed in public decision-making bodies. This led to an increase in women’s membership in those bodies, from a quarter in 1980 to almost half by 1996. South Africa’s African National Congress, meanwhile, reserves a third of parliamentary and half of local government candidacies to women. And in India, 33 percent of the three-tiered panchayats (villages) are for women.

Advocates of women’s political representation note that while the Nordic states, for a long time, dominated the field of nations with gender quotas, an increasing number of countries are now legislating their own. Today, countries as diverse as those in Africa, South Asia, Europe, and Latin America are instituting quota systems for their bureaucracies.

In the Philippines, women comprise only 13 percent of the current Senate, and 16 percent of the House of Representatives. At the local level, the proportions of seats occupied by women are similarly low: for example, only 19 percent of provincial governors, and 15 percent of mayors, are women. In the judiciary, three-fourths of all judges are men.

“This lack of gender balance means that major policies that affect the nation in general, and even those that affect women in particular, are mostly decided by men,” Baraquel, et al., note.

They say policy reforms must be introduced “to correct the uneven representation of men and women in politics and governance.”

In 1998, recognizing the difficulty in passing legislation for a quota, the Civil Service Commission issued a memorandum “encouraging” the appointment of women to government posts.

Read HB 5496.

4 Responses to House bill seeks gender quota
for government posts

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Uniffors - Just another harmless weblog » Gender Quota for Government Posts

June 22nd, 2006 at 4:57 pm

[…] Akbayan representatives filed House Bill 5496 aka “Gender Balance Act of 2006″. Full story here […]

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naykika

June 23rd, 2006 at 12:24 am

A quota system will never work. you can not have a built in quota of political officials in the government. That will undermine the democratic right of the voters to choose the candidate of his or her choice, man or woman. We have now a great portion of our female gender both in our business, workforce, government elective position and appointed. our Supreme Court chief justice is a Woman, not because of the quota system but by a very simple 2 paragraphs provision in our constitution which I quote here:
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Equality Rights

Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Affirmative action programs (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (83)

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Juan Makabayan

June 23rd, 2006 at 11:56 am

I wonder if Cong Riza had asked Filipino women if they would prefer to work in “positions in the bureaucracy, military, police, government-owned and controlled corporations and other agencies”,…and as officials occupying “national and local posts” or would they rather be plain good old-fashioned housewives taking care of family and raising up kids to become good citizens. Would they prefer to have husbands who has a job that can provide for their needs even if she doesn’t have to work; or would they rather compete for other women’s husband’s job?

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freewheel

June 24th, 2006 at 10:03 am

Friends (HB 5496 authors), an unsolicited piece of advice:

a) train your sights elsewhere. every idea has its proper time. simply, existing conditions does not call for it yet, no matter how laudable.

b.) a prelude to criticisms; paano na lang kung mga katulad ni GMA ang pag-iisip ang mga ilalagay sa mga sensitibong posisyon o dili kaya’y katulad ng walang silbing Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez? Solution: crisp education and instilling values in harmony with a strong and vibrant society versus political survival and expediencies.

see, being a woman actually has no bearing in the preceding example.

c.) not to negate your passion for womens rights, draw instead rights expanding renumerative benefits for single moms and dads, pregnant women; i.e. shorter working period (to be able to spend more time with the kid(s), in the case of the former, and to avoid frenetic traffic jams during rush hours, for the latter), and other similar acts.

d.) if you read pcij regularly, it should serve as helpful source of materials: the post on Aklatang Pambata could be an inspiration; every barangay ought to have one. Funding? Pagcor and/or PCSO, para mabawasan ang private cookie jar ng salbahe sa Malacanan.

the possibilities are limitless… good luck!

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