Women in Brunei Darussalam play a vital role towards national development, contribute openly and equally to society, and are given equal opportunities to social and economic benefits.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad highlighted this at the inaugural ASEAN-US Ministerial Dialogue on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment held yesterday morning via a video conference.
The minister discussed the Sultanate’s initiatives geared towards promoting women empowerment and gender equality that include the National Plan of Action on Women under the National Council on Social Issues, which identifies strategic objectives to develop women’s optimum potential through gender equality as well as capacity-building and self-development in eight priority areas, such as the promotion and protection of rights, healthcare, economic empowerment, employment and work-life balance.
The ongoing research on women’s development in Brunei Darussalam, which commenced in April 2022, “is expected to be completed by March 2023. The findings from this research will be used to review and strengthen the National Plan of Action on Women.
“The research hopes to identify strategic issues pertinent to women’s development in the country, such as supporting economic livelihood and promoting work-life balance, which are critical towards ensuring a strong family institution”.
Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi also acknowledged the support from the United States (US), particularly for initiatives towards women economic empowerment, such as through the convening of the first training programme under the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in collaboration with Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) in June this year. The programme is designed to provide female entrepreneurs knowledge, network and access needed to grow into successful businesses.
Additionally, female entrepreneurs in Brunei Darussalam have access to other entrepreneurship programmes such as Industry Business Academy (IBA), where nearly 60 per cent of the 9,200 participants for the IBA training programmes are women.
The minister further highlighted that aside from celebrating International Women’s Day every March 8, Brunei Darussalam is also strongly committed to championing women’s causes on the regional and international fronts.
“As chair of the ASEAN Committee on Women in 2020, Brunei Darussalam led several initiatives, including the joint ASEAN Gender Outlook study with United Nations (UN) Women, and the ASEAN Gender Mainstreaming Strategic Framework, jointly held with the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children,” he explained.
During the Sultanate’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2021, the development of an ASEAN Master Plan on Women’s Development – to be led by Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Vietnam – was included as one of the deliverables under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. It aimed at creating a more cohesive and comprehensive framework to promote the overall equality and empowerment of women and girls in the region.
The meeting was officiated and co-chaired by Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection of Indonesia I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati and Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power. Ministers responsible for women affairs from ASEAN member states as well as representatives from the US attended the meeting.
With the objective of promoting constructive dialogue and regional synergies oriented towards creating an enabling environment for women, yesterday’s ministerial meeting reaffirmed ASEAN-US cooperation in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly in the areas of women’s economic empowerment; women, peace and security; gender mainstreaming; and gender-based violence prevention and response.
The dialogue ended with the adoption of the ASEAN-US Joint Ministerial Statement on gender equality and empowerment of all women.
Permanent Secretary (Community) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari and senior MCYS officials also attended the dialogue.