Hontiveros bats for cash aid for pregnant workers in informal sector

Published May 16, 2021, 1:20 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros is pushing the passage of a bill that seeks to provide cash assistance to pregnant workers in the informal sector.

In filing Senate Bill No. 2175 or the proposed Maternity Benefit for Women in the Informal Economy Act of 2021, Hontiveros said it is necessary to help pregnant workers in the informal sector to avail of maternity cash benefits to help boost the economy and improve the health of mothers and infants nationwide.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the senator noted that almost all members in the family are now forced to earn money. This has pushed even pregnant workers in the informal economy to continue to work even if they cannot receive any maternity benefits.

“Malapit man silang manganak, nagtatrabaho pa rin sila sa mga palengke at mga serbisyong home-based dahil wala silang maiuuwing kita kung hindi sila magpupursige. Kailangan natin silang tulungan (Even though the time of their delivery is near, they still work in the markets or in home-based services because they have no earnings if they don’t persevere. We need to help them),” she said.

Under the bill, all pregnant workers in the informal economy who are not members of the Social Security System (SSS) would be entitled to a one-time maternity cash aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The amount of the cash aid will be equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage in the worker’s region multiplied by 22 days.

She said funding for the cash aid would be collected from excise taxes on sweetened beverages, alcohol and tobacco products, and may be augmented by appropriations under the yearly national budget.

According to Hontiveros, the bill is also eyed as an “economic booster” since more families will have larger disposable income if they do not have to spend on medical expenses brought on by the baby’s poor health or nutrition.

She also said the bill is a “necessary upgrade” of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law so that more working mothers and their children, especially from poor households, stand to gain from the maternal benefits.

“The entry of working pregnant women in the informal economy shows their strength and resilience. But let’s not forget that pregnancy is a unique opportunity in the lives of women,” said chair of the Senate Committee on Women and Children.

“Upholding their rights is upholding the future of every Filipino home,” Hontiveros emphasized. [Hannah L. Torregoza]