| Fadley Faisal |
THE recent declaration of Asia-Pacific ministers brings hope to Brunei Darussalam as it moves to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of the country’s efforts to realise the goals of its Vision 2035.
The ‘Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review’ was convened recently in Bangkok, Thailand by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in cooperation with UN Women, from November 17 to 20.
Asia-Pacific countries adopted a ministerial declaration comm-itting to accelerate action on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment across the region.
Representing a strong and united regional voice, leaders from more than 40 countries committed to reinforcing their efforts to eliminate gender discrimination and inequality, as a matter of human rights and for the development and prosperity of the region.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Datin Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman, in her statement said, “The Brunei Government’s efforts in improving its citizens’ standard of living have placed the country at 30th place in the United Nations’ Human Development Index.
“This manifests the achievements of Brunei’s Vision 2035. The issues in the area of women’s empowerment are handled through the Family and Women Special Committee’ under the National Council for Social Issues. Women in Brunei benefit from eight main areas identified under the comprehensive Action Plan which will ensure the implementation of various projects and programmes.”
Datin Paduka Hajah Adina also highlighted that the nation’s efforts towards progress in various fields include the review of SPN21, the plan to extend the formal education period, the soon-to-be operational Women and Children’s Health Services building, the enforcement of the Mental Health Order 2014, Employment Order 2009, Work Place Safety and Health Order 2009, the participation of women in the job market, the extension of maternity leave from 56-105 days and the qualification of women staff in the civil service.
The Beijing Platform for Action is a declaration, which was agreed upon at the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 and has been vetted by the United Nations General Assembly.
Since then, every five years, the progress in reaching the strategic objective ‘Plan of Action’ is reviewed by the ‘Commission on The Status of Women under the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’ (ESCAP), United Nations.
Three reviews were made in 2000, 2005 and 2010. The 4th review will be conducted in 2015 at the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Action Plan.
The review convention is led by ESCAP based on the regional research and the reviews reports by member countries on the participation of the civil society.
The convention usually formulates achievements and challenges as well as the vital execution of the 12 critical fields in the interest of the Action Plan, which are: women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women (and girls), women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment and the girl child.
The Beijing +20 convention stated that most of the member countries have achieved perceptible developments in each field namely: policy fortification, rules and action plan towards gender equality, reduction in violence against women as well as the participation of women in politics and decision-making.
Meanwhile, some member countries still face deficit in gender equality in economy, education, health, environment, power, basic rights, and participation in media. Therefore, several fields have been identified for development such as politics, civil and private sector services, women empowerment in economy and the elimination of violence against women.