PH economy losing to digital gender gap

At a glance

  • The Philippines was among 32 countries which missed out on $1 Trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because women were excluded from the digital world.

The Philippines was among 32 countries that missed out on $1 Trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because women were excluded from the digital world, according to a recent International Finance Corp. (IFC) study.

Worldwide, more than 1 billion women still do not use or have access to the financial system, IFC data showed.

Overall, a $300 billion gap in financing exists for formal, women-owned small businesses, with over 70 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises having inadequate or no access to financial services.

Developing economies have 200 million more male than female cell phone owners. Without access to mobile technology, millions of women are further excluded from secure and convenient digital payment systems.

Without access to finance, women face difficulties in collecting and saving income, growing their businesses, and pulling their families out of poverty. As a result, women remain largely excluded from the formal economy.

In the Philippines, the digital gender gap only becomes more glaring under the country's digitalization drive.

While women entrepreneurs can compete better if they have the necessary digital selling skills as well as access to credit, the bulk of Filipino women, 61 percent, still do not own a bank account and are not part of the formal economy.

And while 86 percent of Filipino women have access to internet whether at home or elsewhere, only 26 percent used it to search on education and government services, according to the Women in ICT Development Index (WIDI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

At the same time, less than 20 percent of Filipino women used the internet to search for employment and business opportunities.

And while 55 percent of women in the country purchased goods or services online, only 6 percent sold goods or services online.

Given these facts, "It is imperative to make sure that in the shift to the new normal, no one is left behind by equipping Filipinos with the tools and skills they need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution." according to DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo.

“As 65 percent of the country is still not connected to the internet, this motivates us to go further, to connect every barangay in the country to the cyberspace," she maintained.

"Access to the internet means access to opportunities. We want to make sure that no Filipino, regardless of age and gender, is left behind in the transition to the digital age,” Lamentillo concluded.