PH VP Leni Robredo touts: The economic impact of gender equality

Community News & Features Sep 13, 2019 at 5:50 pm
ice President Leni Ribredo (Photo: Mari-Len De Guzman)

Vice President Leni Ribredo
(Photo: Mari-Len De Guzman)

By Mari-Len De Guzman
Special for The Philippine Reporter

Empowering women and pursuing gender inclusion will lead to economic prosperity among nations, Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo told a group of international government and business leaders at this year’s Toronto Global Forum, held in Toronto September 4 to 6.

Robredo was among the international speakers at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by The International Economic Forum of the Americas.

In her speech, the vice-president said promoting gender equality is “not an easy advocacy” as it goes against deep-seated cultural and social biases.

“Gender inclusion is not just about advancing women’s rights and empowering half the world. Gender inclusion is at its very core about sustaining the whole world,” Robredo said.

Making a case for women empowerment and advancing gender equality, Robredo cited McKinsey and Company figures that estimated some $4.5 trillion can be added to the collective annual gross income of Asia-Pacific countries by 2025 if women’s equality is advanced. On a global scale, the same McKinsey Global Institute Report stated that in a “full potential” scenario – where women play an identical role in labour markets as men – the contribution to global annual GDP can be as high as $28 trillion.

“This is a clear sign that pursuing the goal of gender equality can unleash the economic potential of any country and reinforce the world economy,” Robredo said.

Robredo took the opportunity to talk about her own office’s women empowerment flagship advocacy in the Philippines. Angat Buhay is the Office of the Vice-President’s anti-poverty program aimed at underserved communities through the help of “development organizations and private partners.”

One of its more recent projects was a training program for women entrepreneurs in the province of Bohol, about 900 kilometers outside the Philippine capital of Metro Manila.

“Women empowerment is one of the key advocacy areas that our office has chosen since the very first day that we assumed office, precisely because as a practicing human rights lawyer prior to my involvement in politics, what I learned in the field is that when you empower women, you strengthen whole families and many generations,” said Robredo, whose rise to the vice-presidency was not without controversy and opposition mainly from supporters of her election opponent Bongbong Marcos, son of the deceased Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Robredo, who is the second woman to hold the vice-presidency post in the Philippines, defeated Marcos in the 2016 national elections.

In her message to attendees of the Toronto Global Forum, Robredo emphasized that gender inclusion and women empowerment is “not this country’s version of the battle of the sexes.”

“It is about creating real partnerships. It is about acknowledging each gender’s strengths and creating a synergy where both genders build each other up rather than put each other down,” she said.

She added that the fight for gender inclusion “is not waged against men; it is waged against inequality.”

The Toronto Global Forum fosters dialogue on national and global issues, and offers exclusive opportunities for business meetings aimed at promoting partnerships among major Canadian and international corporations. During the Toronto Global Forum, more than 100 bilateral meetings take place onsite between senior decision makers and actors of the global economy, according to the event’s organizers.