The SIGI 2023 profile for the Philippines provides a comprehensive overview of the state of gender equality in the country, as measured by the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI).1 The fifth edition of the SIGI, released in 2023, assesses 140 countries based on the level of gender-based discrimination in their social institutions. These discriminatory social institutions encompass both formal and informal laws, as well as social norms and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice, empowerment opportunities and resources, thereby undermining their agency and authority.

In 2023, the Philippines obtained a SIGI score of 50, denoting high levels of discrimination, compared to an average score of 39 in Southeast Asia, denoting medium levels of discrimination, and a world average score of 29.2 The country obtained a score of 57 in the “Discrimination in the family” dimension, followed by “Restricted access to productive and financial resources” (50), “Restricted physical integrity” (49), and “Restricted civil liberties” (42).

The Philippines’ legal system is a mixture of civil law and common law, derived from the successive periods of colonisation of Spain and the United States, together with the presence of indigenous customary law and a separate and distinct Muslim legal system for the Muslim minority (Council of ASEAN Chief Justice, n.d.[2]). Article XII, Section 5 of the Constitution (Republic of the Philippines, 1987[3]), as amended, recognises the existence of indigenous customary law in the country and specifically refers to its applicability in relation to property rights and to determining ownership and the extent of ancestral domain. Additionally, the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (Republic of the Philippines, 1977[4]), as amended, recognises and codifies the system of Philippines’ Muslim personal laws. Section 3 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws stipulates that in case of conflict between the provisions of the Code and laws of general application, the provisions of the Code prevail.

Article III of the Constitution recognises and prohibits multiple and intersectional discrimination – which constitutes an essential element to enhance gender equality. The Philippines ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981 without any reservations (United Nations, 1979[5]; United Nations, 2023[6]).

Gender-disaggregated, gender-relevant and intersectional data and indicators are essential to better identify policy areas that have strong linkages with gender. In the Philippines, there are applicable legal provisions regulating the production and dissemination of gender statistics. For instance, the Magna Carta of Women (Republic of the Philippines, 2009[7]), as amended, establishes the Commission on Human Rights which, together with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and other state agencies, is notably in charge of overseeing the development of indicators and guidelines to fulfil its duties related to women’s human rights, including the right to non-discrimination (Chapter VI, Section 39). The Magna Carta of Women also mandates that all public institutions develop and maintain a Gender and Development (GAD) database containing gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data that have been systematically gathered, regularly updated, and subjected to gender analysis for planning, programming, and policy formulation (Chapter VI, Section 36(c)).

The Philippines have a strong legal framework that guarantees women and men equal rights in certain aspects of their lives, although the coexistence of specific legislations which applies to distinct groups of the population may weaken certain women’s rights (see below). The law notably guarantees women and men equal rights in terms of freedom of movement, access to justice and political voice, although the absence of quotas and the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes towards women’s political leadership limit women’s political representation in parliament. In the economic sphere, laws guarantee women and men equal rights, prohibiting discrimination in employment in the basis of sex and mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value. Although attitudes continue to undermine women’s economic empowerment – 69% of the population believes that men should have more right to a job than women and 43% think that men make better business leaders than women – the strong legal framework translates into a high representation of women in economic decision-making positions. In 2023, 53% of managers were women and 30% of companies were headed by women. In the family sphere, the equal rights granted by the general legislation are often undermined by the presence of a parallel Code of Muslim Personal Laws. However, the Philippines have taken steps to address the potential legal loopholes and to eliminate discriminatory provisions. For instance, the enactment of the “Prohibition of Child Marriage Law” in 2021 set the minimum legal age for marriage at 18 years for all girls and boys without any exceptions and across the entire legislation.

Discriminatory social institutions undermine women’s rights and opportunities in many spheres of their lives. In the Philippines, distinct legislations regulate family and marriage matters – including divorce, inheritance or the administration of assets within the household – for Muslim and non-Muslim individuals. Both systems contain provisions that weaken women’s rights. For instance, the Family Code, which regulates marriage and family affairs for non-Muslim individuals, contains discriminatory provisions that restrict a woman’s right to be the legal guardian of her child or that limit a married woman’s right to equally administer land assets and properties of the household. Likewise, the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, which governs marriage and family affairs for Muslim individuals, contains discriminatory provisions that limit a woman’s guardianship over her child, that grant men more rights to divorce, that establish a waiting period for women to remarry following a divorce, that grant male heirs larger shares of inheritance compared to female heirs, and that prevent a woman from working without the consent of her spouse.

The legal framework also fails to fully protect women’s physical integrity and to guarantee them control and autonomy over their body. For instance, the law continues to provide for reduced penalties in cases of “honour crimes”, perpetrators of rape can avoid prosecution if they marry the victim/survivor, and abortion is criminalised under all circumstances, even if the pregnant woman’s life is at risk.


[2] Council of ASEAN Chief Justice (n.d.), Philippines,

[1] OECD (2023), “Social Institutions and Gender Index (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 10 January 2024).

[8] OECD Development Centre/OECD (2023), “Gender, Institutions and Development (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 11 January 2024).

[7] Republic of the Philippines (2009), The Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710).

[3] Republic of the Philippines (1987), Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

[4] Republic of the Philippines (1977), Presidential Decree No. 1083 promulgating the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, Official Gazette, Vol. 73, No. 20.

[6] United Nations (2023), Status of Treaties: Chapter IV - 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

[5] United Nations (1979), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,


← 1. The full SIGI Country Profile for the Philippines is available at: OECD Development Centre (2023), “Philippines SIGI Country Profile”, SIGI 2023 Country Profiles, OECD,

← 2. SIGI scores range from 0 to 100, with 0 indicating no discrimination and 100 indicating absolute discrimination. Levels of discrimination in the SIGI and its dimensions are assessed based on scores as follow: very low [0-20]; low [20-30]; medium [30-40]; high [40-50]; and very high [50-100].

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