Duterte doubles paid leave for new mothers in Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang palace in Manila. (Reuters pic)

MANILA: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded leave benefits for working new mothers, a move that could bring more women in the workforce in a nation with the least female participation in Southeast Asia.

A new law has increased paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60, of which seven can be given to fathers, Senator Risa Hontiveros, one of the measure’s main proponents, said in a statement Thursday. Single mothers will get additional 15 days.

Luring and keeping more women in the job market is among government initiatives outlined by Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia to boost labor force participation, which dropped last year.

The World Bank estimates more than half of Philippine women aren’t in the labour force, the highest ratio among major Southeast Asian economies.

While the Philippines leads Asia in the number of women in leadership and professional roles, many of them are from wealthy backgrounds and can afford expensive childcare, according to McKinsey Global Institute.

The New-York based consultancy estimates that having more poor, less-educated women into the workforce will add US$40 billion to the economy by 2025.

“Today is a massive victory for women and their families,” Hontiveros said. “While there will be more battles and challenges in the future, today, women win.”

The Philippines’ 105-day maternity leave compare to 182 in Vietnam, 180 in Indonesia and 112 in Singapore.