Females accounted for 42 per cent of the labour force with the employment rate for women aged 25 to 64 increasing from 87 per cent (in 2014) to 89 per cent (2018), Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin stated citing the 2018 Brunei Labour Force survey conducted by the Department of Economic Planning and Development.
In the civil service, as of November 2019, females accounted for approximately 55 per cent of the 50,768 employees. In the private sector however, females only accounted for 38 per cent of the labour force. This clearly demonstrates the tremendous potential for all to support greater women involvement in the nation’s economic development, the minister stated in a message to mark International Women’s Day 2020.
The message added, “March 8 of every year has been declared International Women’s Day by the United Nations to honour the role and sacrifice of women and to recognise the achievements of women in various fields including social, economic, cultural and political.
“Therefore, International Women’s Day is celebrated globally, as a platform to give recognition to women, for their contribution to the country, as well as to encourage women to stay active towards the development of their families, the society and the whole nation.”
The theme for 2020 is ‘An Equal World is an Enabled World, with the hashtag #Eachforequal. This theme invites women to continue and inject determination and be proactive in their efforts to shape the global society with a sense of identity, and is able to face current and emerging challenges, with more innovative ways towards greater equality, the minister’s added.
The message stated that it has been long acknowledged that women in this country play a very significant role in the nation’s socio–economic development and have contributed to the society.
Among the successes of Bruneian women include five local business women receiving the ASEAN Excellent Women Entrepreneur Award during the ASEAN Women’s Business Conference in Bangkok, Thailand in 2019, two Bruneian women receiving the Women of the Future Awards Southeast Asia for their achievements and two women entrepreneurs being presented prestigious awards at the Women 2020 Entrepreneurship Summit: Perspectives of the Global Woman of Impact in the Philippines this year, the minister said.
Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said as part of efforts by Brunei Darussalam to commemorate International Women’s Day, several activities and programmes on development, empowerment and equality are being planned.
These activities will be held in cooperation with strategic partners, not only among government agencies, but also with the involvement of foreign diplomatic missions, private sectors and others.
Among them are an expo or ‘Marketplace’ specifically to highlight products and services of businesses and companies founded or led by women, and create a local business network for the community. The initiative will also include businesses run by women from vulnerable groups such as single mothers, the elderly and those with different abilities, with the aim of providing a platform to showcase their efforts.
A workshop will also be held with the theme ‘Empowering Women in Brunei Darussalam’ and a sharing session with career women, especially those in involved in the field of entrepreneurship.
The minister added, “Brunei Darussalam is committed and actively contributes towards discussions on women’s issues in the international arena. From October 7-12, 2019, Brunei Darussalam hosted and chaired the 18th ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and its related meetings with the theme ‘Enriching Resilience of Young Women as Agents of Change’.
“The theme was chosen to show Brunei Darussalam’s commitment to empowering the resilience of young women as agents of change, towards aiding the stronger development of the family, society and the country, and thereafter, the ASEAN Community. The meeting was successful in discussing and strengthening cooperation, through the exchange of regional best practices in six areas of collaboration which are the Promotion of Women Leadership; Non-gender stereotyping and social norms change; Gender Mainstreaming Across the Three ASEAN Community Pillars; Elimination of Violence against Women; Economic Empowerment of Women; and Protection and Empowerment of Women in Vulnerable Areas.
“On October 10, 2019, Brunei Darussalam organised the ‘Regional Forum on Social Protection Policy Focussing on Elderly Women and Ageing’ which focussed on the ageing population, whereby women comprise the majority of the population in the Asia Pacific region aged 60 and above. In this connection, to deal with the issue of ageing, social protection policies must cover all aspects including health, welfare and social security, and care for the elderly, including women.
“Several non-governmental organisations in the country also organised economic empowerment programmes, involving social enterprises, particularly small businesses by women, especially for women from vulnerable groups.
“As such, implementation strategies and strengthening mechanisms require the active participation of women effectively, in the process of seeking to improve the quality of life for women and to redouble efforts towards achieving the goal of building a sustainable society.
“Therefore, let us altogether celebrate and express our deepest appreciation to the sacrifices and contribution of women in the country, because they are a valuable and important asset, in working shoulder to shoulder with the whole community, towards achieving economic progress, family welfare, social development and the country’s prosperity.
“Happy International Women’s Day to all the women in Brunei Darussalam,” the minister said.