Bias, Discrimination, and Gender-based Violence

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All over the world, women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community experience challenges, inequality, and threats to their life and liberty. In the workplace, on the streets, at schools and even at home, they face discrimination and violence simply because of their gender. Let’s explore some key issues and concepts:

Gender bias is a behavior or tendency to favor one gender over another. It is an unconscious or implicit bias, where an individual attributes particular attitudes and stereotypes to another person or group, which affects how they view, understand, and engage with them. It is most commonly a bias towards heterosexual men, and is mostly visible within professional or work settings. Gender bias becomes much more complex when it intersects with other structures such as race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on.

Some forms and examples of gender bias that are prevalent today:

  • “The Glass Ceiling” is a metaphor for the noticeable but intangible barrier to professional success face by minorities and women. The predominance of men (usually white, heterosexual men) in leadership roles is not an indication of the lack of talent and ability of women and minorities, but is a result of bias (whether conscious or unconscious) that prevents such opportunities from being given to them.
  • “The Gender Pay Gap” is the gap between men’s and women’s salaries across workplaces and occupations, showing gender inequality in terms of the economic value of women’s labor. In the Philippines, great strides have been made in closing the gender gap, with the country ranking 17th out of 156, but there is still plenty of room to improve, especially considering that women are underrepresented in policymaking
  • “Men make better leaders” is a societal attitude on the position of women and minorities in politics and the public sphere. Women and minorities in positions of power are held to a higher level of scrutiny and expectation compared to their male counterparts. This is also apparent in the underrepresentation of women and women’s issues. In the Philippines, the discourse surrounding the candidacies of Leni Robredo and Sara Duterte, show the challenges women have to face in navigating politics.

Gender Bias Learning Project – The Center for WorkLife Law
What is Gender Bias in the Workplace? – Bailey Reiners, Builtin
Closing the Gender Gap in the Workplace – Bronte Lacsamana, BusinessWorld
Sexism in the 2022 Philippine Elections: A Problem with No Name – Jean Encinas-Franco, Fulcrum

Gender Discrimination, according to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), is defined as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise … of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

Aside from gender bias, gender-based discrimination includes bullying, exclusion, sexual harassment, and sexual assault/abuse.

Policies and legislation (or lack thereof) also enable different forms of gender discrimination to happen to women and minorities, especially in the Philippines where discrimination is still prevalent. Gaps still exist when it comes to rape and sexual abuse laws, rights to access needed healthcare and abortions, legislation to reduce the gender gap, protection against domestic violence, and so on. Even local and institutional level policies can be discriminatory in nature, such as rules on the use of bathrooms and restrictions on uniforms.

In 2019, a Filipina trans woman was barred from using the female bathroom, which led to public shaming and even the involvement of local police.

Such incidents show that despite the supposedly high tolerance for members of the LGBTQIA+, we have a long way to go when it comes to achieving gender equality.

Module 9: Gender Dimensions of Ethics – Forms of Gender Discrimination – UNODC

Gender-based Violence (GBV) refers to the physical, emotional, mental, sexual and economic harm inflicted on another person, whether in public or in private, based on their gender. GBV can be in the form of shaming and ridicule, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child marriage, honor killing, female genital mutilation, and so on. Although GBV is also enacted against boys and men, it more disproportionately affects girls and women.

In this interview, Professor Sabrina Gacad describes the different forms GBV takes in the Philippines, from verbal abuse between domestic partners, to SOGIE-based discrimination and ridicule, and online sexual harassment.

She also describes GBV as an expression of power and dominance over other people, demonstrated against people of other gender identities. Gender, education, wealth, and upbringing are also factors that influence the prevalence of GBV. Over the course of the pandemic, limited mobility due to community quarantines and socio-economic pressures have also exacerbated the incidence of GBV in the Philippines.

Social and cultural attitudes such as victim-blaming and gender biases also play a part in preventing GBV from being addressed. An intersectoral approach between policymakers, the public and private sector, and the community is needed to provide the necessary support systems and services to victims of GBV.

Gender-based Violence – UNHCR
Violence against women in the Philippines – Valdez, et. al., The Lancet

The issues presented only offer a snippet of the struggles and challenges experienced by people due to their gender. There is still much work to be done in the fight for gender equality.

In the next page, we’ll go over why the LGBTQIA+ community celebrates Pride.

Bias, Discrimination, and Gender-based Violence – Habi Plus