Women comprise more than 47 per cent of the total population in Brunei Darussalam, according to the latest statistics. Therefore, women in the country have a very important role and contribution in socio-economic development and the maintenance of peace and security. Women have joined hands to achieve economic progress, family well-being, social and national prosperity.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad said this in a message in conjunction with International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023. The Sultanate celebrates IWD, themed ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology’, today.
The minister said, “This theme is aligned with the priority theme for the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-67) at the United Nations (UN) in New York, which is ‘Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’.
“The UN observance of IWD recognises and celebrates women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.
“This year’s celebration emphasises the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in the digital space and addressing violence online and in information and communications technology (ICT).
“As such, the involvement of women and girls in technology can produce more creative solutions and increase the potential of innovation to meet the needs and development of women, as well as raising awareness regarding their rights and civic engagement.
“The UN added that advances in digital technology can support efforts to address development and humanitarian challenges and achieve the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Inclusive and transformative technology and digital education are essential for a sustainable future.”
The minister said that the country remains committed to achieving Brunei Vision 2035 towards educated, highly skilled and accomplished citizens, with a high quality of life; and a nation with dynamic and sustainable economy.
He added that among the achievements of women in Brunei in the digital sector are as chief executive officers in telecommunications companies and as Chair of the InfoCom Federation Brunei (IFB); as recipients of the Gold Award under the Digital Content category in the ASEAN ICT Awards 2021 (AICTA 2021) and the recent Asia-Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA 2022) under the Inclusions and Community – Sustainability and Environment/Education category; as well as winner of the Women of the Future (WOF) Awards in the Science, Technology and Digital category.
“Brunei Darussalam provides equal access and opportunities to men and women in using technology whether in terms of education, health, social, economic and innovation.
“Innovation, technology support and education initiatives in this digital era have proven to be able to empower society including women and girls,” the minister said.
He added, “Among the relevant initiatives are the National Welfare System (SKN); mobile applications such as BruHealth app and Mengalinga and the Registry for Children and Young Person in Need of Protection (RCYPNP) portal.”
Agencies have also implemented capacity building programmes in the field of ICT, such as:
In conjunction with Girls in ICT Day, the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) held an online webinar on Personal Data Protection themed ‘Secure Your Digital Identity’ on April 28, 2022, attended by women and girls of all ages, and conducted by a local female speaker; and AITI conducting digital skills training for senior citizens, first introduced in October 2019 with the involvement of the elderly including women from all districts. This was carried out in collaboration with government and private agencies with presentations and practical demonstrations by trainers and facilitators from the Department of Curriculum Development, Ministry of Education; IT Protective Security Services Sdn Bhd (ITPSS), as well as representatives from local e-commerce companies.
The programme also covers topics including basic ICT skills, online safety and security, introduction to e-commerce and its opportunities, useful mobile applications, online shopping and cybersecurity tips.
The minister added that two Digital for All sessions for male and female participants under the Community Development Department (JAPEM) and senior citizens at the Senior Citizens Activity Centre (PKWE) were held on November 8 and 9, 2022, and December 1, 2022.
Digital for All is an initiative of AITI to educate the community about digital literacy and basic ICT skills. The sessions covered e-commerce, digital marketing and cybersecurity facilitated by Tech One Global.
The minister said, “Based on the Research on Women’s Development in Brunei Darussalam, carried out on female respondents aged 15 and older in the country, women’s involvement in the digital, engineering and ICT fields still has room for improvement.
“Only 17 per cent of women without Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) or higher education have basic computer skills.”
He added, “The Research on Women’s Development in Brunei Darussalam identifies the opportunities and challenges faced by women to ensure they can attain an equitable level of development.
“The findings will be used as a basis to develop a Plan of Action on Women under the National Council of Social Issues, which is more targetted and impactful that will contribute towards the identification of government policies and national initiatives that need to be established or strengthened for the development and empowerment of women in the country.”
The minister also said that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through JAPEM plans to collaborate with various government agencies, private sector, non-governmental organisations and women advocates, including Womentechmakers in conjunction with IWD.
Among the objectives of this year’s celebration is to provide a platform to share women’s success, awareness and issues related to women in society.