Schoolgirls fare better than boys, UN study says
MANILA, Philippines — At age 16, Filipino girls are more likely to be on track with their schooling than boys, based on the recent findings of a 15-year study initiated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and aimed at tracking the development of around 5,000 Filipino children.
“This means more girls (85 percent vs 75 percent of boys) were in age-appropriate grades, were not delayed or repeated a school year,” according to researchers from the University of San Carlos-Office of Population Studies (USC-OPS), who observed that girls fared better during the first six years of the study.
The research, whose third stage of implementation was launched recently, also found that teenage boys were more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking and drinking during their earlier years.
Based on the data, at ages 13 to 14, 21.8 percent of boys have tried drinking alcohol while only 12.8 percent of girls tried the same. At the same time, 7.7 percent of boys have tried smoking while only 2.5 percent of the girls tried doing so.
The researchers noted unequal gender norms or stereotypes among the participants as girls spend more time, or 40 percent more, on household chores when compared to boys, which could imply that they have less time for studying or rest.
The study also showed that 2.6 percent of the girls have already experienced early pregnancy and 3 percent are cohabiting or living with their partners, compared to only 1 percent of the boys.
These initial findings under the “Longitudinal Cohort Study on the Filipino Child” were released on Tuesday, ahead of the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child on Wednesday.
Conceptualized and initiated by the UNFPA, the study started in 2016 when the selected Filipino children were 10 years old. It aims to continue to follow them every year until 2030, the target year of the global Sustainable Development Goals, and when they would become 24.
The study is funded by the Government of Australia and the United Nations Children’s Fund, with support from the Philippine government, particularly the National Economic and Development Authority and the USC-OPS.
‘Girls at the center’
“This study will help put girls at the center of decision-making efforts, which aligns with Australia’s International Development Policy that also prioritizes addressing gender equality. And so Australia is pleased to announce our continued support for a third phase of the Filipino Child Cohort Study,” said Thanh Le PSM, the Australian Embassy’s Development Counselor.
Dr. Nanette Lee-Mayol, director of the USC-OPS, said the cohort study aims to determine why women are less likely to be able to participate economically and in decision-making during adulthood, as other national studies have found.
“We are hopeful that the study will generate insights that will help stakeholders provide solutions and enable women to realize their full potential,” she said.