CHR pushes passage of bill granting maternity benefits for informal women workers
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday announced its support for Senate Bill 148, a measure that would grant maternity benefits to women workers in the informal sector.
The bill would amend Republic Act 11210 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act to include women who do not currently make contributions to the Social Security System (SSS), providing one-time maternity cash aid for pregnant informal women workers.
“One of the most vulnerable sectors affected by the pandemic are women who belong to the informal economy, with some being non-members of the SSS, and are unable to meet their needs nor have the benefit of being granted cash aid during their pregnancies,” said the CHR in a statement.
“As we account for the average minimum wage in the country—which falls below Php 570—amidst sizable costs and fees, the passage of the bill is expedient for the Filipino women in the informal sector and their children,” added the human rights authority.
The CHR stressed such legislation for informal women workers is urgent as prices for basic necessities continue to spike.
“Even with this sector’s large contribution to the economy, measuring up to 12.8% of the country’s GDP in 2019, and a significant number of constituents, employing 5.72 million people, they remain unprotected and unsupported,” said the commission.
SB 148 is also pursuant to the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which mandates that the role of women in procreation should not be grounds for their discrimination, according to the CHR.
“SBN 148 shall help ensure that women in the informal economy, including their children, will enjoy the same assistance as those in the formal sector. This is crucial in ensuring equal access and opportunities for this disadvantaged sector in line with the principles of social justice,” stressed the human rights ombud.
The state human rights authority expressed its support of both chambers of Congress in the measure’s passage, opening their doors for consultations on the bill’s development.