Career Advancement Program of Women in
Philippine Government Service (CAPWINGS)

by Corazon Alma de Leon

Chairperson, Philippine Civil Service Commission

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Note: this paper was presented during the Second Congress of the Global Network of Women in Politics held in Manila, Philippines 28-30 August 1998.

In the Philippines women constitute a major segment of the government workforce. The ratios of women to men are 1:2 in the lowest or clerical level, 5:2 in the second or professional/technical level and 1:2 in the highest or executive level. Teachers constitute 70% of those employed in the second or professional level; they are predominantly female. In 1996 teaching personnel numbered over 400,000 of which 84% was female.

At the third level, women occupy 37% of all executive and managerial positions. This figure may surpass the accepted threshold of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) by 7%; but it falls short of the level of equal representation advocated by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) which is not lower than 45% for either sex.

From a policy perspective, this situation has two implications. First, the CSC's thrust should create an environment supportive of women concerns, given that they form over half of total government workforce. Second, CSC's policies should become tangible initiatives to promote equal representation of women at all decision-making levels in public service.

By constitutional mandate, the CSC is the central personnel or human resource management agency. As such it is tasked to adopt measures that:

Career Advancement Program for Women in Government Service (CAPWINGS)

Ensuring advancement in the career of women employees is one way to empower them and develop their full potential. This is essential because women are proven to contribute significantly to productivity in the workplace. One leading CSC initiative towards this goal is the Career Advancement Program for Women in Government Service or CAPWINGS.

It forms part of the government's commitment as signatory to the BPA and addresses the policy of ensuring women's equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making, specifically women in the public sector. CAPWING's objectives are to:

CAPWINGS focuses on three areas of intervention: policy strengthening and development, capability-building and advocacy, and development of support mechanisms. The first area entails the review and revision of gender discriminatory policies and practices particularly in recruitment, training, promotion and retirement, and the conduct of research. The second area encompasses a whole range of activities to build new capabilities and skills among women in government, e.g. leadership training, principle-centered negotiations, mentoring and others. The last area covers services and measures that will facilitate and improve women's participation in decision-making roles, e.g. flexible working arrangements, day care centers, and part-time employment, among others.

Congress of Women in Government

Out of the CAPWINGS program, the Congress of Women in Government was organized with the underlying philosophy of "women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power [which] are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace".

The first congress was a national gathering in the late 1980s. Many regional (and national) congresses have followed and since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, one of the congresses' aims has been to obtain feedback on the BPA. The other objectives are to provide information and advice on career development opportunities, and to build and strengthen women's networks and linkages.

CSC regards as central to the discourse on women's empowerment the question of good and honest governance. It lays emphasis on prompt service delivery and transparency of employees in dealing with the public. Women are also urged to form legislative lobby groups to equalize their opportunities to participate in decision-making.

Congress participants are enjoined to establish CAPWINGS in their agencies and ensure sufficient funds for resulting programs and activities. They are urged to maximize the use of 5% of an agency's budget that is allocated for gender and development programs. The women are also enoucraged to network with each other.

A survey was undertaken at these congresses covering such areas as GAD (Gender And Development) awareness including women's working conditions, career advancement and related concerns, and retirement and other aspirations. At the open fora, women are vocal and raise their issues and concerns among the more recent of which are:

In one congress the case of two policewomen was shared, terminated for failing to meet the 5 foot 2 inch height requirement of the Philippine National Police. The real issue in fact was whether there is a scientific basis for the required height and whether it is cognizant of the standard physical attributes of Filipino women. The National Police Commission is now reviewing the rationale for the height requirement, thanks to the women's advocacy.

Survey results

Results of the survey will serve as baseline data to guide the CSC in its review and formulation of GAD policies. Survey findings indicate an improvement in working conditions as evidenced by:

Opportunities for career advancement for women have also been enhanced. Nearly a third of those who have availed of the local scholarship program are women: 2,241 out of a total of 7,444.

Next steps

Our experiences at these congresses are inspiring and rewarding. The CSC has been emboldened to advocate not only for an excellent and ethical bureaucracy but also for one that is empowered, engendered and environment-friendly.

In April 1998, the CSC signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) on the project "Gender and Development Mainstreaming and Institutionalization in the CSC". Given the CSC's strategic role as an oversight body, the project will have a major impact on the bureaucracy.

The project has two components: a gender equity policy (GEP) and a directory of women eligible for executive positions in government. The GEP targets the equal representation of women in executive-level positions in government through an executive order (EO) to be signed by the President. The EO does not simply mandate the appointment of women but seeks "no less than 45% for either women or men holding third level positions". This ensures that agency heads will target more equal representation of women and men in decision-making positions within the next six years (1998-2004). The CSC and NCRFW are lobbying for the President's signature.

As for the second component, it is hoped that once completed, the directory will be institutionalized in the nomination, selection and recruitment process. The CSC and NCRFW will be proactive in advocating for women candidates for executive positions, especially with the Office of the President.

Excerpts from the Primer on Program and Polices for
Women in Government Service (WINGS)

by the Civil Service Commission (CSC)


What is the CSC program for WINGS?

The CSC's program for WINGS includes the following components:

What has the CSC done to improve working conditions under WINGS?

The CSC has promulgated several policies to improve working conditions in Government including:

What is the CSC's plan on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace under WINGS?

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Updated: March 07, 2008