Supporting women’s economic empowerment will introduce sustainable measures to address gender and development issues in enterprise laws and programs, microenterprise development, business registration, local economic development, social protection and environment.
Registering business should be easier
. In the Philippines, every firm must register at both the local and national levels. At the local level, all businesses are required to secure a mayor’s permit or municipal license from the local government unit (LGU) in which they are located. However, since there are no regulated, standardized registration procedures at the LGU level, the time and cost required in registering a business may vary from one LGU to another.
The need to simplify the regulatory environment governing business for women microentrepreneurs and women in the informal sector, by shortening the steps and number of days to obtain a business name, reduce fees and charges, and secure a business permit and renew. Business registration is vital in encouraging micro and small enterprises to register and obtain licenses that will formalize them as business establishments. Formalizing enterprises through business registration is a main requirement for women entrepreneurs to avail of enterprise-related government programs and services. At present, it would take an entrepreneur an average of 48 days to complete the 11 required procedures.
Systematic analysis of gender issues in microenterprise and microfinance is needed.  Despite women comprising the majority of microcredit borrowers, there has been no systematic analysis of the gender issues in microenterprise and microfinance to serve as basis of concrete actions to mainstream gender in a practical way and promote women’s economic empowerment. Current microfinance research has dwelt mainly on the sustainability of microfinance institutions (MFIs) rather than on the positive or negative impact of MFIs on their clients. 
Enterprise laws and programs need to be fully implemented. Implementation of government’s women’s economic empowerment-related laws and programs require hastened and wider targeting or reach.  At the local level, there is a need to harmonize the implementing guidelines and circulars on microenterprises from various concerned national government agencies. At the national level, there are varying definitions of micro-, small and medium enterprises cited by different MSME-related national laws, and thus limit the benefits of these laws to women.
Ensuring the gender-responsiveness by firmly integrating gender concerns in the National Micro-, Small, Medium Enterprise Development Plan for 2010-2016 will provide competitive advantage to women microentrepreneurs. (In 2010, the Philippine Commission on Women has actively participated in drafting the NMSME Plan, with the integration of gender-responsive inputs and gender consultancy throughout the planning process.)
Similarly, the immediate passage of Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy, in support of women’s economic empowerment and for the protection of women informal workers, ranks among the women’s priority legislative agenda for the 14th Congress. Along with this, the Philippines has been called upon to support the ratification of ILO Convention (No. 177) on Homework, which sets the global minimum labor standards for home work.
The Enhancing Competitiveness through Gender Mainstreaming: the Role and Status of Women and Men in Micro-, Small, Medium Enterprise Development in the Philippines, a report jointly commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry, GTZ, and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, identify needed amendments to national laws affecting enterprises, as well as reiterate the need for provisions to make enterprise laws more equitable for women.
For example, in the case of Article 2238 of the Philippine Civil Code, wherein the case of husband’s insolvency, the administration of the conjugal partnership or absolute community becomes the only time when it is transferred to the wife or a third person. In the Family Code, there are remaining provisions concerning administration of property that need to be made gender-fair (ie. Articles 96, 124, 211 and 225), wherein the “husband’s decision shall prevail in case of disagreement.”
Second, enforcement of certain provisions in national laws as in Republic Act 7192: Women in Nation Building Act (eg. Equality in Capacity to Act Section 5 on capacity to borrow and obtain loans) should be implemented and monitored. Certain Philippine banks still require the husband’s consent in big loans that require properties as collateral. Filipino women using their maiden names have difficulty obtaining loans, as banks require them to present the marriage license and other documentary evidence proving that she is married and is merely using her maiden name.
Third, Republic Act 7882: An Act Providing Assistance to Women in Engaging in Micro and Cottage Business Enterprises (1995) provides for an assistance facility to assist women to avail of loans for micro and business enterprises. However, certain provisions are limiting for women borrowers, because loans are accorded only to women enterprises with a maximum asset size of Php 50,000 and a daily inventory of Php 25,000. The law also needs to be expanded to include other forms of capability-building conducive to enterprise growth, aside from credit provision. Monitoring and compliance of government financial institutions needs to be strengthened.
Fourth, Republic Act 9178: Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002, has to adopt a provision that will compel local government units to collect sex-disaggregated data on enterprises, useful for gender-responsive local planning.
Fifth, Republic Act 9501: Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, defines MSMEs “as any business activity or enterprise engaged in industry, agribusiness and/or services, whether single proprietorship, cooperative, partnership or corporation whose total assets, inclusive of those arising from loans but exclusive of the land on which the particular business entity’s office, plant and equipment are situated, must have value falling under the following categories, micro: not more than Php 3 million, small: Php 3 million to Php 15 million, and medium Php 15 million – Php 100 million.” With this definition, the law hardly provides coverage for the women’s informal microenterprises, comprising the majority of women-led enterprises.
Sixth, the Annual General Appropriations Act: Gender and Development Budget Policy mandates all government agencies to allocate at least five percent of their budget for gender and development. Low compliance, especially for a number of local government units, has been reported. Other government agencies echo the need to be further clarified regarding the constitution of the five-percent allocation.
Stronger monitoring and evaluation systems for gender equality in economic development is necessary. At both the national and local levels, there is a need for stronger monitoring and evaluation systems to track gender equality, in addition to women’s economic empowerment. The lack of sex-disaggregated data at all levels, makes it more difficult to ascertain how economic development is affecting women and men and impedes the refinement of laws, policies, programs and services to become more gender-responsive. The availability of data will decrease low awareness on gender and development (GAD), women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and women’s important contribution to local economic development (LED).
Women’s economic empowerment supports the fulfillment of national and international commitments. It aims to contribute to the fulfillment to the Philippine Government’s commitment to human rights conventions and commitments such as the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (UN CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among others.