‘Aquinomics’ aftermath: Low quality jobs for women

FIVE years of “Aquinomics” has led to low quality jobs and indecent wages for women, who are now being penalized for getting pregnant while employed, Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said   Wednesday.

De Jesus questioned the underlying macroeconomic policies presented by the Development Budget Coordination Committee or DBCC led by the Department of Finance’s macroeconomic budget planning as these mess up women workers’ wages and health.

De Jesus branded the Aquino administration’s macroeconomic policies as anti-poor, anti-worker, and anti-women.

“Gabriela is convinced that instead of heeding the call for an increase in wages, the government chose to prioritize the distribution of contraceptives to ensure the workers will not get pregnant,” De Jesus said.

“Reports are coming in, interestingly, from women workers in export processing zones where factory managers are exerting coercive policies that penalize women who become pregnant while employed,” said De Jesus, in a statement issued as the House began the plenary debate on the P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016.

“One way of regimentation is the mandatory checking of women’s used sanitary napkins for regularity of menstruation,” De Jesus said.

“Five years of ‘Aquinomics’ led to massive poverty and joblessness alongside hype of financial growth and stock market boom,” she stressed.

De Jesus said the Aquino administration’s approach  to poverty did not have a policy direction for improving the low quality of the jobs generated or for transitioning contractual workers into regular employees with decent wages.

De Jesus pointed out the sharp contrast between the government’s aggressive implementation of   worker-targeted reproductive health programs on one hand, and its lame implementation of international labor standards on the other.

She cited the 2009-2014 PRISM2 Project (Private Sector Mobilization for Family Health), a USAID-funded program in partnership with Chemonics International that was extended from former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s PRISM Program.

Under Arroyo, PRISM aimed to “increase private sector contribution to the contraceptive prevalence rate or CPR to 48.8 in 2014” by expanding markets for oral and injectable contraceptives using the Public Private Partnership schemes.

Under Aquino’s PRISM2, De Jesus said, key components of the program ran into opposition after the policy of banning homebirths by traditional midwives was imposed.

She said homebirths by midwives was penalized or criminalized, a tactic that critics said was not designed to provide subsidized health benefits to pregnant indigents but to force women into using private lying-in clinics and make them more profitable with more paying clients.

“Women need better access to birthing hospitals, free treatment and care, and higher wages and workplace protection against discrimination, but if Aquino’s macroecomics prevail in the 2016 budget, women are bound to suffer more under the Daang Matuwid,” De Jesus said.

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