Women in business

Izah Azahari

Borneo Bulletin Yearbook (BBYB) 2022, themed ‘Dynamic & Sustainable – An Economy of Opportunity’, was revealed during the BBYB Networking Session at the Malay Technology Museum yesterday.

A key spotlight for next year’s edition will be a special section on successful leading women in Brunei.

The Bulletin interviewed several successful women during the event.

Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari said, “Alhamdulillah, we are blessed that women and girls in Brunei have full access to opportunities to thrive and participate in building economic livelihoods and independence.”

She said the increase in female business leaders underlined the ministry’s commitment towards promoting women empowerment and equity in line with the country’s economic and social development agenda under Brunei Vision 2035.

“We hope to see more women take up challenges and contribute towards nation building,” added Hajah Nor Ashikin. “In particular, I believe the youth, especially young women, are pivotal to our future as they are agents of transformative change and catalysts for economic, social andcultural development.”

Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin said there are a lot of opportunities in Brunei and she believes that women in the country have the capabilities to be leaders in the private sector.

ABOVE & BELOW: Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin; Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari; Progresif CEO Hajah Nurul Haniah binti Haji Mohd Jaafar; and Imagine CEO Suzannawati binti Haji Suharju. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR

She said there is equal access to opportunities and facilities for everyone regardless of their gender, age or race.

“Statistically, women are contributing more to the nation in terms of education as we make up the bigger proportion of graduates.”

She added that gender inequality does exist here, but in the case of Brunei, numbers are showing that women are succeeding more in education and civil service than men as more women are taking up male dominated occupations.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more women taking up leadership roles in the future,” she added.

Progresif CEO Hajah Nurul Haniah binti Haji Mohd Jaafar said, “It is encouraging to see a number of women out there holding key positions and roles making positive impact and changes. Alhamdulillah, I see that happening in Brunei.”

She said that the company is no stranger in providing support to entrepreneurs and encourage women entrepreneurship in the past few years especially with the Women’s Academy initiative last year.

“We in Brunei, whether male or female, should support Brunei Vision 2035. Irrespective of what sector you are in, we have a role to play,” said the CEO. “I hope to see more women stepping out of the norm and have the courage to be vocal and speak their mind and have courage to recommend changes for the country.”

The CEO added that aside from being a service provider, Progresif plays its role as a platform for the community to drive change in the community, including supporting women in fields such as health and technology.

Imagine CEO Suzannawati binti Haji Suharju said Brunei is recognising women’s ability to take on senior roles. She had the experience to take up the role at the company.

Suzannawati said to lead effectively and efficiently, one must take into account empathy.

“As women, we are natural multitaskers as we play many different roles. My role is not just to lead but also to guide and offer support to the team to ensure that everyone understands what they do to contribute to the success of the organisation. This is something the nation should continue to promote. I’m happy to see more and more women leaders in Brunei,” said the CEO.

She hopes to see more women in senior roles and she wants to set an example for young girls and boys out there to recognise that dedication, hard work and having a vision are keys to success, irrespective of gender.

“With that, let’s encourage women, mothers, sisters, daughters to not consider their gender as a disadvantage, but more of an advantage,” added Suzannawati.