Family Planning makes good business sense, says the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Family planning makes good business sense shared the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at the 1st National Conference on Family Planning in the Workplace, as it urged companies to start implementing family planning programs.

A panel on family planning in the workplace offered new ideas and lessons learned. The panel included from left to right: Inquirer columnist Ernie Cecilia (mediator), ECOP-ZAMBASULTA Chapter Secretary General Roberto Valerio, BSWC-DOLE Director Atty. Ma. Karina Pineda-Trayvilla, TUCP-ITUC Executive Board Member and Chair Florencia Cabatingan, and POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III.

The conference, the first-ever to tackle the private sector’s role in supporting the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, brought together the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Commission on Population (POPCOM). The event also gathered 200 participants from a wide variety of industries who shared their experiences and learned best practices from UNFPA’s Business Action for Family Planning Access (BAFP) project.

Launched in 2014, the Business Action for Family Planning Access (BAFP) project encourages private sector engagement in family planning either in the workplace, community-based or as a core business.

Thirteen companies are currently enrolled in the program, representing various sectors such as export garment manufacturing, microfinance, canning, semi-conductor production for export, pastries, agro-industries, automotive and high-end aerospace products.

The program has been able to reach almost 1.4 million individuals through family planning sessions in the workplace and in communities.

Business benefits from family planning

ECOP President Donald G. Dee discussed how the topic was quite timely as businesses aim to remain competitive amidst a changing labor and employment landscape.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) President Donald G. Dee as he delivered his opening remarks about ECOP’s initiative on mainstreaming reproductive health in the corporate agenda as a tool for business productivity and competitiveness.

In the Philippines, the entrance of new young workers has significantly affected the current working environment. According to 2015 labor force survey (LFS 2015), almost half of the labor force population consists of young workers. Over 42 million Filipinos aged 15 years and above are part of the labor force, 47.1% of which are workers in their prime reproductive age.

Meanwhile, one in ten young Filipino women aged 15-19 have begun childbearing, with 8 per cent of these age groups already mothers and another 2 per cent already pregnant with their first child, according to the results of the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).

“As young people, particularly women, move into wage labor they are faced with larger difficulties associated with pregnancy and later on caring for their infants and young children. Women in the formal sector, the wage and salary workers, are sometimes ill-equipped and unable to provide the proper health care especially during stages of pregnancy,” said Dee.

In tough economic times, Dee said, “it’s important to remember that the absence of concrete workplace health program costs money. What’s more, our case studies show that a sound health program including family planning program in the workplace is linked to improved performance and profitability.”

Dee cited the benefits companies can gain through better policies and practices such as improved productivity through less sickness absence, cutting healthcare costs, keeping skilled workers in employment and reducing the number of people who have to cut their working hours to care for more family members.

Bridging the Gap in Access

According to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey in the Philippines, 49 per cent of unmarried, sexually active women and 17 per cent of married women still have an unmet need for family planning

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative Klaus Beck emphasizes how investing on workplace family planning makes good business and how companies can help employees plan the timing and size of their family.

“Today, working couples are faced with the challenge of a lack of time to access quality family planning and reproductive health services, especially in public health centers that provide these services only during working hours,” shared UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck in his talk.

“A workplace program ensures that these services are available where the employees are, and that they are closely supported by their co-employees on a regular basis. Workplace programs are intended to reach the working couples at their work places,” he added.

Through the BAFP program, the UNFPA hope to provide further speed to a nascent movement on family planning in the workplace so that more companies join in helping their employees, themselves and the country in the process.

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