WEF: Quotas, paternity leaves, gender gap in Asia
MANILA, Philippines – What needs to be done to decrease gender inequality? The answer lies in changing public and corporate policy.
On Thursday, May 22, World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia participants discussed gender issues and solutions to the problem, by drawing on best practices from other countries.
According to the WEF Global Gender Gap report 2013, the Philippines ranks 5th in gender equality out of 133 countries, the highest in the region and the only country from Asia in the top 20.
Only Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden ranked higher than the Philippines.
According to the report, "the Philippines is the highest ranking country in Asia, primarily due to success in health, education and economic participation."
Meanwhile Japan is at 105th having slipped 4 places while the Republic of Korea is lowest at 111th.
In discussing solutions, WEF Managing Director Espen Barth Elde emphasized the need to talk about "gender" issues rather than "women" issues, arguing the issue itself affects both genders.
Elde, who is from Norway (3rd on the index), said it is not enough to encourage women, "you need to have certain policies to make sure that is real like care for children, system for real healthcare, and care for elderly."
Among the possible solutions talked about include:
- Creation of a talent base database to show enough women "fit the bill." Jasmine Lee, a National Assembly Member of Korea, said this is an answer to companies that claim there aren't enough women to choose from.
- Quotas. In South Korea, public institutions cannot have less than 60% and not more than 40% of a particular gender. In Norway, companies are required to have women comprise 40% of their board members in order to register with the Stock Exchange.
- Paternity leaves. Encouraging men to do more, and to take part in child care, will allow women to return to the workforce. At the same time, maternity leaves should be significant.
- Transparency. In South Korea, names of companies that do well in hiring women are published and awarded with a Family Friendly Certificate by the government. Lee said companies that have been recognized have seen their competitiveness grow up ten-fold.
- System of support. In companies, mentorship regardless of gender should be advanced, as well as good childcare programs, maternity leaves, and others.
Elde acknowledged that when Norway first set out to create the policies, the country witnessed a backlash, but this later led to a change in mentality, in that paternity leaves became a plus on a man's CV.
"The purpose is to set the direction and not to fix it overnight," he said. - Rappler.com
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