Gender and Land Rights Database


In 2007, the population was estimated at 88.72 million, out of which 49.6 percent were women (1). The rural population accounted for 35.7 percent of the total (1). In 1990, there were 95.8 rural women every 100 rural men (2). The population living in urban areas has increased significantly over the last years from 48.8 percent in 1995 and 59 percent in 2000. The largest concentration of urban residents, some 10 million people, lives in Metro Manila (3). Population density was 285 persons per square kilometre in 2005 (4).

In 2007, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) US$144.1 billion, while the per capita GDP was USD 1 639, with an average annual growth of 1.7 percent in 1990-2007 (5). In 2008, agriculture accounted for 14.7 percent of the GDP, industry accounted for 31.6 percent and services accounted for 53.7 percent (6). Until the mid-1980s, agriculture employed half of the labour force. Although the size of the agricultural labour force has been shrinking during the last two decades due to strong urbanization, as of April 2008, the agricultural sector still employed 35.5 percent of the 33.5 million employed people (3). Furthermore, the country’s leading exports include agricultural products such as coconut oil and fresh bananas, which contributed a combined total of USD 661.5 million in 2002 (7). Main agricultural products include sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, bananas, cassavas, pineapples and mangoes (6).

With a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.747 in 2006, the country ranks 105th out of 182 countries (5). In 2006, 22.6 percent of the population lived under the USD 1 per day poverty line; 16 percent of the population was undernourished in 2004 (8). Vulnerability is higher in rural areas where the median rural family income of PhP59 820 in 2000 was less than half of the median urban family income of PhP136 338 (3). Life expectancy at birth in 2007 was estimated at 73.9 years for women and at 69.4 years for men (5). Literacy rates are generally high and reached 95.3 percent among women and 93.6 percent among men in 2007 (8). However, in 1994, only 68.8 percent of rural women were literate, compared to 83.9 percent of urban women (3).

In 2007, women accounted for 38 percent of the economically active population (1). Only 22 percent of the economically active women were engaged in agriculture, accounting for 24 percent of the agricultural labour force (1). As women producers have long been classified as unpaid family workers, their labour contribution is not officially registered in statistics (3). While men dominate the agricultural sector, women non-operator household members who were engaged in agricultural activities were 3.2 million in 2002, compared to 1.1 million men (7). Women engaged in agriculture are generally older than their male counterparts: the median age was 56 years among female agricultural operators and 45 among male operators (7). Declining livelihood opportunities in rural areas, particularly for young women force them to migrate not only to urban centres but also overseas (3).

In 2002, the total agricultural land area constituted 32.2 percent of the country’s total land area, with a decrease of 3 percent from 1991, due to the conversion of farmlands for residential and commercial purposes. As a result, the average farm size declined from 2.2 hectares per farm in 1991 to two hectares per farm in 2002 (9).

Since colonial rule, most land has been in the hands of few large landowners who controlled 70 percent of agricultural land until 1988 (10). In 1997, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was instituted by virtue of Proclamation No. 131 and the enactment, in 1998, of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).The mandate of the reform is the distribution of public and private lands to farmer beneficiaries (10), particularly landless farmers and farm labourers (7). As of 2003, about 1.4 million hectares had been distributed to 751.9 thousand farmers through the CARP (7).

Under the CARL, women rural labourers have equal rights to own land. However, since most women are seasonal workers who rank third in the priority order of beneficiaries, only 10 of beneficiaries were women in 1992 (11). The Department of Agrarian Reform has since adopted the Memorandum Circular 18 of 1996 and the Administrative Order No. 1 of 2001 to improve women’s position and implement the gender equality provisions of the CARL. These guidelines specify that no sex discrimination can be made in beneficiary selection, and land titles are to be issued in the name of both spouses (11). From January to December 2003, women beneficiaries accounted for 33 percent of all beneficiaries and were awarded 18 205 Emancipation Patents or Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (EP/CLOAs) (3).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography