The Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) remains committed and supportive of Filipino women's economic empowerment through its various entrepreneurial and business programs, recognizing their important role in the country's economic development and inclusive growth goals.

"Here in the Philippines, women have come a long way. With the full support of the government, we will continue to exert much effort to ensure that they continue to do so for they are central in realizing our shared vision of sustainable and inclusive growth," said DTI Undersecretary Nora Terrado who delivered the keynote address on behalf of DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo before participants of the strategic dialogue on how to develop economies that work for women at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on September 9, 2015.

Undersecretary Terrado shared among participants of the United Nation's Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment-hosted dialogue the many steps and measures taken by the government in addressing the constraints to women's economic empowerment. "The Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016 affirmed that the principal development goals of lasting, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, and food security can only be achieved hand in hand with gender equality. The logic was simple and irrefutable. Development cannot be achieved with only 50 percent of the population participating and benefiting," Undersecretary Terrado said.

According to the DTI Undersecretary, appropriate laws and policies were adopted to provide an enabling environment for women’s empowerment with emphasis on improving competitiveness and sustainability of women’s micro enterprises.

“Just last year, the Go Negosyo Act (Republic Act 10644 otherwise known as Go Into Business Act) was passed. It promotes job creation and inclusive growth through the development of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and has a section that specifically provides for support to women and youth,” she said.

Undersecretary Terrado said the said law was the latest in a series of laws to promote and support the role of women in development. The earlier laws include Republic Act 9501, the Magna Carta for MSMEs, enacted in 2008 and Republic Act 7882, an act providing assistance to women engaged in micro and cottage business enterprise, enacted in 1995 that directs government financial institutions to allocate 5 percent of their funds for loans to women.

“In translating these laws into operational programs, the DTI forged strong partnerships with the private sector and garnered the support of international donor agencies,” she said. “With these, we have managed to provide women entrepreneurs with increased access to government services,” she added.

According to Undersecretary Terrado, three out of five beneficiaries who accessed DTI’s Enterprise Development Program last year were women entrepreneurs. “The services they availed included entrepreneurial skills and technology upgrading and training; product design; market matching; participation in trade fairs, international expositions and business missions; among others,” she said.

Women entrepreneurs also increased their access to the financing programs of the Small Business Corp., the SME financing guarantee arm of DTI. Women comprised 43 percent of those who availed of small business loans in 2014 equal to P274 million, a dramatic increase from 17 percent in 2009 that came to only P37 million in 2009.

"Women are key players in the micro, small and medium sector that comprise 99 percent of the country's businesses and account for up to 70 percent of employment," she said. She also cited a recent survey conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) which revealed that 63 percent of managers or business owners were women and of this number, 52 percent were micro entrepreneurs while the rest were owners of small and medium enterprises.

"DTI's latest business registration data also showed that 54 percent of enterprises registering trade names are female-owned," she said.

Undersecretary Terrado also cited the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study which showed that of 42 countries, the Philippines ranked second in terms of entrepreneurially-active females.

"With the business sector expected to be the main engine of growth, enhancing women's economic empowerment becomes indispensible to achieving more inclusive and sustainable economic growth," she said.

Hosted by the United Nation's Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, or UN Women in cooperation with the Philippine Commission on Women, the strategic dialogue on how to develop economies that work for women is one of the many game-changing strategies being pursued on a global and national level to further push women’s economic empowerment. The dialogue was also attended by government officials, representatives from the civil society and icons in women empowerment including Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Undersecretary General and the Executive Director of UN Women; Emmeline Verzosa, Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director; Olan Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative; Maria Gloria Tangco, Assistant Secretary for Labor Standards, Social Protection and Internal Affairs Cluster of the Department of Labor and Employment; Jeannie Javelosa, President of ECHOsi Foundation; and Prof. Marina Durano, Asian Center of the University of the Philippines Diliman. (END)