Gender equality in the Philippines declined in 2020, World Bank said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as main driver for the country's laws to favor men over women still.
In their Women, Business and the Law 2021 report, the Philippines' legal gender equality rating of 78.8 declined by 2.45 points from 81.25 in 2020.
"COVID-19 has directly and disproportionately jeopardized women’s social and economic capabilities," World Bank (WB) said.
As they make up majority of health, social service, and unpaid care workers, women are "uniquely susceptible to the effects of the pandemic", it said.
Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden topped the index with perfect scores of 100.
The Philippines tied with Azerbaijan, Congo, Dem. Rep., Kiribati, and Tajikistan.
The index measured laws and regulations affecting "women’s economic opportunity” in 190 economies based on data gathered up to October 1, 2020. The Philippines failed to get a full 100 rating in the following areas: mobility (75), marriage (60), parenthood (60), assets (60), and pension (75).
In indicators such as workplace, pay, and entrepreneurship, perfect scores of 100 were recorded.
Although Philippines has improved in terms of pay gap, globally, "women continue to earn less than men for the same work", WB said, adding they also face a higher risk of violence in their homes.
In one of the Philippines most densely populated urban centers, Quezon City, weekly domestic abuse complaints in 2020 had reportedly doubled to 12 from five before the pandemic.
Divorce is still a highly controversial issue in the country often described as "deeply Catholic," analysts have said.
Parenthood, which the country improved on in 2020 at 80 points due to its enactment of a law extending the duration of paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60 days, returned to its previous score of 60.
The report proposed reforms for countries that have paid paternity leaves, whose durations they specifically noted as "just seven calendar days", which is what the Philippines has.
"On average, women have just three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men," the report said in summary.
"The importance of legal equality is not limited to disaster preparedness or mitigating the effects of a pandemic. When women are given the same opportunities as men, they enter and remain in the labor force, strengthening economies and enabling development," it said.