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Women in Contemporary Philippine Local Politics

Women in Contemporary Philippine Local Politics

A colloquium with Proserpina D. Tapales, Professor of Public Administration, University of the Philippines, Diliman

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall (10th floor)
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This study looks at the profiles of Filipino women provincial governors plus city and municipal mayors who were elected into office in 1992, 1995, 1998, and 2001. It presents their socio-economic profiles, their entry into politics, and the major projects they pursued as they got into office. Data were gathered from questionnaires sent to all elected women local chief executives and case studies of some excellent mayors and governors.

The study validates more general studies that women politicians come from political families. However, the surveys show that they have had achievements as government administrators or professionals and business women before entering politics, or have served as local councilors or village heads (barangay chairs) before running for office. Once in office, they pursue projects which may not be immediately labeled as gender-oriented, such as agriculture or public works, with the more gendered social services (health and education). Nonetheless, some of them are aware of responding to issues important to mothers and children, and some have even started women's and/or children's programs. Many of them consider their being mothers as a big influence on the priority they give their projects.

There are some issues emerging from the study. For one, the increasing proportion of women local chief executives relative to the males may be encouraging, but there can be problems when the women candidates merely serve as "breakers," to keep the mayoral seats warm for the return of their husbands to office after they have served their mandatory "resting time" at the end of their maximum terms. For another, what concerns women working in local governance is the non-utilization or under-utilization of the so-called gender budget representing 5%of the total funds  for gender programs. (Opinions, however, differ on the mandatory nature of this appropriation). A remaining issue is the overall difficulty of candidates (especially women) to get into electoral politics and win an election.

What may be rays of hope are the enlarging participation of women in local governance, both in electoral politics as well as in socio-civic active organizations (non-governmental and people's organizations), the inecreasing awareness of women about what they can do when they are in office, and the training opportunities provided those running for office and running offices, offered by academic and NGO organizations.

Proserpina Domingo Tapales, Ph.D. in political science, is professor of public administration at the University of the Philippines. Her fields of specialization are local governance and gender, specifically women in politics and government. She has written extensively on those topics. She served as Director of the Center for Local and Regional Governance of the National College of Public Administration and Governance (1991-92; 1997-2001) and Dean of that College (1992-95). She was among the founders of the University of the Philippines Center for Women's Studies, serving as its Coordinator for Training and Outreach (1988-91) and later as Deputy Director for Research and Publications and Editor of its journal, Review of Women's Studies (2002-2005). She served as first Vice-Chancellor of the Univeristy of the Philippines' Open University (1995-96). With a few fellowships abroad, she has served the UP for 40 years. Dr. Tapales received her degrees in Bachelor of Arts in Philippine Studies and Master of Public Administration from the University of the Philippines and her Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. She also attended a Special Course in Local Government in the University of Birmingham, England.

Parking in UCLA's Lot 3 costs $8.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies