Commission on Audit (COA) officials participated in a three-day international virtual Workshop on Women’s Empowerment for Productivity Gains hosted by the Asian Productivity Organization Secretariat based in Tokyo, Japan on 22 to 24 June 2021.

COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo authorized the attendance of Assistant Commissioner Fortunata M. Rubico and Director Sofia C. Gemora, Chairs of the Technical Working Group and Committee on Audit and Gender Issue Analysis, both of the COA Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System (GFPS). Their participation in the virtual Workshop intends to integrate productivity concepts and practices in gender mainstreaming in COA in pursuit of gender equality and women empowerment in government operations.

Assistant Commissioner Rubico and Director Gemora joined 34 other participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Turkey. The objective of the virtual Workshop is for participants to understand the latest initiatives and best practices to eliminate gender disparity, promote equality, and encourage increased female labor force participation (FLFP) across the region. Target participants included officials in charge of developing strategies for women’s empowerment, productivity improvement initiatives, and increasing FLFP rates. The COA officials were invited by the Development Academy of the Philippines, as the designated National Productivity Organization of the Philippines, to attend the workshop.

Experts and resource persons discussed topics such as: Promoting Women’s Empowerment in the Workplace in Japan; Progress of FLFP in Malaysia; Issues and Challenges in Women’s Empowerment; Improving Work-Life Balance by Implementing Productivity Tools and Methodologies in the Workplace; Championing Company-wide Productivity Improvement Activities; Initiatives in the Public and Private Sectors for Women’s Empowerment in Japan; Case Study on Women’s Empowerment for Productivity Gains in a Japanese Company; and Opportunities for Addressing FLFP across Asia and the Pacific.

Participants were also divided into three groups and discussed effective ways to promote work-life balance resulting from productivity enhancement activities in the workplace. Assistant Commissioner Rubico and Director Gemora presented audit work balanced with non-audit work activities and personnel benefits within the scope of gender and development. These include training and capacity building, team building, sports and physical fitness program, health and wellness program, livelihood program, day care center operation, strategic partnership with government agencies, online helpdesk for victims of violence against women, and maternity and paternity leave benefits, among others.

Chairperson Aguinaldo approved the Return Service Voluntary Commitment of Assistant Commissioner Rubico and Director Gemora, including making a comprehensive presentation to colleagues or other interested stakeholders on knowledge/inputs received from the workshop and initiating a project or study on Women’s Empowerment for Productivity Gains.

The following objectives will be aligned with the mandate of COA under Section 36 of the Magna Carta of Women, the COA GAD Agenda and Strategic Plan 2020-2025 and the relevant international auditing standards:

• Incorporate the concepts of productivity gains and women empowerment in the conduct of public sector auditing of government programs for gender and development resulting in further strengthening accountability, transparency and integrity of government and public sector entities; and in enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.

• Develop learning module and publish article on women empowerment and productivity in relation to gender mainstreaming efforts of the COA GFPS resulting in increased awareness and adoption of productivity improvement principles in the Commission.

Overall, the three-day workshop gave valuable insights and at the same time a challenge in incorporating women empowerment for productivity gains given the unique audit and adjudication functions of the Commission. # Contributed by: Assistant Commissioner Fortunata M. Rubico and Director Sofia C. Gemora; edited by the Public Information Office