US and PH join forces to increase economic opportunities for Filipino women
MANILA, Philippines — The United States and the Philippines have committed to cooperating to open more economic opportunities for Filipino women.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said this was among their discussion points during the “2+2” ministerial dialogue in Washington with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and Philippine Defense Chief Carlito Galvez.
Blinken said the longtime allies talked about deepening our robust economic ties, including through the Indo Pacific Economic Framework for prosperity.”
This, he noted, is a commitment to broadening “economic cooperation across the board.”
“One way that we’re putting our partnership to work is by collaborating to increase economic opportunities for women and girls in the Philippines. We’re providing training in growing industries like data science and artificial intelligence, where women have been underrepresented and boosting digital literacy rates,” he said.
A World Bank report in November 2022 found that women’s labor force participation in the Philippines still falls behind its neighbors in the East Asia and Pacific region, despite it being a “high performer in gender equality globally.”
“This was clearly a missed opportunity for economic growth and heightened prosperity,” the World Bank said.
Edca to create more jobs
Aside from increasing economic opportunities for Filipino women, tapping into job creation for Filipinos through the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) was likewise tackled in the “2+2” meeting.
Austin said the infrastructure investments of the US at the new and existing Edca sites – which are expected to have a budget of more than $100 million by the end of the fiscal year 2023 – “will spur job creation and economic growth in local Philippine communities.”
Last week, Malacañang pinned down the locations of four additional Edca sites in Palawan and Northern Luzon. This brings the total number of local military bases made accessible to US forces from five to nine.