Brunei ranks second in education, health for girls, young women

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam ranked second place in education and health domains in the 2021 Asia-Pacific Girls Report: Voice, Choice, and Power conducted by the Plan International published recently.

The Sultanate maintained its rank in both categories as in 2019.

The overall index values and ranking of each country were based on six domains – education; economic opportunities; protection; health; political voice and representation; and laws and policies – further divided into 23 indicators.

Meanwhile, the Sultanate ranked seventh place in the Economic Opportunities category, down three spots from two years ago. More needs to be done in political representation domains as well as voices and policies.

The three highest-ranking countries in the Asia Index Singapore (0.784), Thailand (0.733), and the Philippines (0.715), all are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Brunei’s score was 0.462.

Since the signing of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, countries have committed to equitable and inclusive development for girls and young women. Across the Asia-Pacific region, girls and young women are participating in youth activism for gender equality. Such efforts have proven successful in changing long-held discriminatory attitudes and beliefs related to gender as well as ensuring that girls are better able to use their voice and develop leadership capacities.

The 2021 Asia-Pacific Girls Report detailed the ongoing work of female youth activism for gender equality, social inclusion and the current state of girls’ leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. It also outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted youth-led activism efforts.

This year, their research focussed on girls’ leadership, particularly the political voice and representation domain outlined in the Asia and Pacific Girls’ Leadership indexes. It also concentrated on the past and present civic engagement efforts of girls and young women activists, enablers for future civic engagement and governments’ responses to female youth activism.

Their research found that girls and young women advocates are building their movements with a range of approaches, including working together with boys and men; education strategies; self-conscientisation and connecting with networks or coalitions of organisations.

The Asia and Pacific GLIs are composite indexes that measure adolescent girls’ and young women’s opportunities to develop and demonstrate leadership capabilities.

The report found that girls and young women are working tirelessly to ensure gender transformative change and social inclusion. Across the region, social and cultural norms continue to contribute to gender inequality and the lack of opportunity, the report said.

The Asia GLI was first developed in 2019 and updated to include the Pacific in 2021 to provide valuable insight into the circumstances girls and young women have been facing over the past two years. The Asia GLI focusses on six core domains for 19 countries in South and Southeat Asia.