Child Rights in the Philippines
About 34% of the Philippine population is under the age of 14, and while the country has made huge strides in strengthening the rights of children, major challenges still exist.
One out of every three individuals in the Philippines lives below the poverty line. The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing even more families and children into poverty as they struggle to pay for basic needs. According to the ILO, one quarter of total employment in the Philippines is likely to be disrupted by the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and labour market, either through decreased earnings and working hours or complete job loss. Moreover, there has been a 75 per cent reduction in deployment of overseas Filipino workers since the pandemic, disrupting an important financial lifeline for countless families. Another telling sign of the negative impact of COVID-19 on children is a 9% decline in school registration in 2020, which also signals a heightened risk of child labour. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that over 2.1 million children were engaged in child labour, with about 95 per cent of them in hazardous work.
A recent child rights impact assessment conducted by The Centre in June 2021 in a Philippine manufacturing supplier shed some light on the challenges facing parent workers and their children. It found that due to a local regulation, pregnant workers are forced to take unpaid leave once their pregnancy is known by their employer. As a result they hide their pregnancy until a late stage of pregnancy to save money for childbirth, risking their own and their babies’ health. The assessment also found that COVID-19 lockdown measures have limited the ability of domestic migrant parents to maintain relationship with their children. In addition, the lack of awareness amongst parent workers on health insurance (e.g. PhilHealth) and also the hidden cost to bring sick children to hospitals (e.g. transportation costs), often correlate with parent workers’ decision to rely on self-medication when their children are sick, thus limiting their children’s access to proper healthcare services.
Support from employers is paramount in ensuring workers and their children can get by in this tough pandemic period. Creating a more family-friendly workplace is one key approach that employers can take to support workers and their children, such as developing a family-friendly policy and guidelines, carrying out targeted awareness raising programme on key child rights risks and training on parenting skills, considering to provide education support programmes for workers’ children, and working with the local and provincial government to develop a scaled-up solution and to create industry-wide awareness amongst manufacturing suppliers on how to contribute to family-friendly initiatives.
Supporting you in the Philippines
We have staff on the ground in the Philippines implementing a growing number of child rights programmes, from child rights risk assessments and child labour prevention to child rights training for businesses and family-friendly workplace programmes. Our work in the Philippines is further strengthened by a strong partnership with Save the Children and other local partners.
Browse Our Work in the Philippines