Women edge men on education in Bikol

LEGAZPI CITY--Women have greater educational advantage over men in all six provinces of the Bikol Region both in 2000 and 2003, estimates of gender-related development indicators generated by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed.

The Gender Development Index (GDI) measures the average achievement in the three basic dimensions captured in the Human Development Index (HDI) – health, education and standard of living – adjusted to account for inequalities between women and men.

The GDI estimates showed that all provinces posted medium GDIs in 2003, including Masbate, which registered a low GDI in 2000.

Bikol provinces recorded the highest index in the education component Gender Education Index (GEI). The Gender Income Index (GII) is the only component of the GDI where all provinces of the region got a low classification.

The GDI however, does not show who between men and women benefit most from development. The Gender Equality Ratio (GER) was thus formulated to show which of the sexes have higher development in specific components. A ratio greater than one indicates higher development of women over men.

The magnitude of the ratio quantifies how much more developed women are than men. In 2000, women’s advantage over men is pronounced in all provinces in terms of health, income and education, except in Camarines Norte.

This advantage declined in half of the provinces of the region in 2003. Women in Camarines Norte, however, narrowed the gap in 2003 by posting the highest increase at 0.3015 index point recording a GER of 1.1507, the third highest among provinces in the region.

Women in Albay (GER of 1.2968) had the greatest advantage over men in terms of development. Women in Masbate showed the highest advantage in education in 2000 and 2003 (GER in education of 1.0848 in 2000 and 1.1498 in 2003).

Today’s women pursue careers other than home managing that make them financially less dependent on men. This situation is true in the Bikol Region (except in the Camarines provinces) in 2000 where women’s share in family income was higher than men’s.

In 2003 however, the earning edge of women over men declined in the provinces of Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon. Women in Albay, on the other hand, recorded a 2.0143 GER in income in 2003 - the highest among provinces, an indication of Albay women’s more pronounced edge over men in income share.

Health-wise, women in Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon are better off than men in 2000 and at slightly lesser degrees in 2003. The women in the three other provinces, while showing improvements in the health component of the GER in 2003, still have to catch up with men in terms of health.

Overall, it can be said that the development of women had improved through the years, albeit not as fast as some would want it. The indicators provide greater awareness of the challenges presented by the gaps and the opportunities that come along in reducing these gaps.

Lastly, the indicators should not be viewed as “battle of the sexes” but should be seen as catalysts for change by providing policy-makers a glimpse of the development of women and men and provide effective measures to reduce the magnitude of disparities in their development. (PNA)