Women in the Philippines

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Women in the Philippines enjoy relative political and social equality with men, compared to women in other southeast Asian countries.


Doctor Antonio de Morga's Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas describes the Malayan heritage of Filipinas, writing that they were good-looking and graceful, with a light brown complexion, and hair that was long and black and drawn in a knot at the back of the head. He described them as dignified in carriage and "very clean and neat in their persons and clothing, and of pleasing address and grace. They dress their hair carefully, and regard it as being more ornamental when it is very black. They wash it with water in which has been boiled the bark of a tree called gogo. they anoint it with aljonjoli oil, prepared with musk, and other perfumes." Women were allowed to succeed to the headship of a barangay (a group of families), and there were women rulers in some regions in the Islands before the Spanish conquest.

Father Ordoñez de Cevallos wrote, "The women are extremely chaste, and lewdness is never seen in them nor any disloyalty to their master; on the contrary, they are very generally virgins, and those who are married know no husband but one". The introduction of Christianity to the Philippines by the Spanish profoundly affected the lives of women, making a strong appeal at the very beginning to the women of the upper class. The first convert was a niece of Chief Tupas, the powerful ruler of the island of Cebu. Her example was followed by other women of high rank.[1]

Labor market

The Philippines puts more women into the overseas labor market than any country in the world. Most migrant women are domestics,[2] although the Philippines is also the leader in exporting nurses to meet the demands of the United States and other developed nations. According to the International Labor Organization, Filipinas and other southeast Asian women received the first blows of the global recession, because women dominated the workforce in the garment, textiles, electronics, and tourism industries.[3]


There are 48 women Representatives elected in the 15th Congress (2010 national election). They accounted for 21.6 percent of the total 222 Representatives as members of the Lower House. In 2010 Senatorial election, there were 14 women who ran out of 61 candidates (23.0%), of which two entered the top 12 winning senators (16.7%).[4] Female involvement in the political environment of the Philippines was highlighted by the election of two women as President of the Philippines, namely Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


  1. Alzona, Encarnación; Ruthven, Alexander G. (Alexander Grant). The Filipino Woman: Her Social, Economic, and Political Status, 1565-1933. 
  2. Rosca, Ninotchka (17 April 1995). The Philippines's shameful export.(emigrant women). 260. The Nation. pp. 522. 
  3. Labor-Philippines: Women Most Vulnerable in Bad Economy. Interpress service. 4 March 2009. pp. 0. 
  4. http://pcw.gov.ph/statistics/201205/women-participation-politics-and-governance