Plan of Action to further develop women’s potential

Azlan Othman

The Plan of Action on Women has been devised by the National Council on Social Issues to further develop women’s optimum potential through gender equity, capacity building and self-development. It includes several priority areas such as promotion and protection of rights, healthcare, economic empowerment, employment and work life balance.

This was stated by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin at the closing of Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Virtual Youth Programme on Women’s Leadership recently.

A study on women development is also being considered, with the outcomes to be incorporated into the revised plan of action, the minister added.

The plan of action is to be implemented through a whole-of-nation approach, including at the grassroots level and with the involvement of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in ensuring unified actions from all stakeholders.

“We are fully committed to the advancement of all women in line with Brunei Vision 2035, that aims to make Brunei Darussalam among the top 10 countries in the world, with well-educated and highly skilled people, enjoying a high quality of life, in a dynamic and sustainable economy,” the minister said.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan also shared that Brunei Darussalam is placed 95th out of 153 countries in the 2020 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, up by three spots from last year.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin at the event. PHOTO: SYAHMI HASSAN

The Sultanate also ranked 11th in the sub-regional grouping for East Asia and the Pacific.

“Women make up over half (55 per cent) of the 50,768 total civil servants in Brunei Darussalam and are well represented, especially at the managerial level and above, a testament at how our system operates on the basis of meritocracy,” the minister added.

“Many Bruneian women have reached senior positions in various fields, elected based on their merits and outstanding achievements and contributions to the society and country. They have been appointed ambassadors, Legislative Council (LegCo) members, deputy ministers, attorney general, high court judges and permanent secretaries. In addition, the current vice chancellors of two of our universities in Brunei Darussalam are also women.

“Nonetheless, with women only accounting for 38 per cent of the labour force in the private sector thus far, we need to encourage more women to be entrepreneurs.

“Towards this, the government has been actively providing opportunities and equal access to entrepreneurial support, including incentives and financial assistance schemes, ICT tools, business counselling and training, and we are pleased to see the rising number of women entrepreneurs in the country including in the areas of agriculture (AgromeIQ), food and beverage industry (Tasconi) and fashion (Na Forrer, the first Bruneian fashion label featured in British Vogue),” the minister said.

As part of this year’s Brunei YSEALI WLA Alumni Network follow-up projects, the YSEALI Virtual Youth Programme on Women’s Leadership was held from October 1-18. The event was sponsored by the United States (US) Embassy in Brunei Darussalam and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

LegCo member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari and Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Emily M Fleckner were also present.

Also in attendance were Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the MCYS Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari; Deputy Permanent Secretary (Youth and Sports) at the MCYS Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Maiddin bin Pengiran Haji Said; and Acting Director of Youth and Sports at the MCYS Mariam binti Ulat, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Brunei Darussalam Jeff Barrus as well Co-Chair of the YSEALI Women’s Leadership Academy (WLA) Alumni Network Aimi Ramlee.