Press Release – Dy Minister Upholds Gender Equity

Posted on  20/03/2010  |  Women's Forum 2010

Aug 6th, 2010

Issues of gender equity make it imperative for policy makers in Brunei to review existing policies and programmes and incorporate the gender perspective especially in a society where decision-making women are ‘still under-represented in many sectors of the workforce.

The Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Datin Hajah Adina binti Othman, said this in her opening address to over 200 women, yesterday, at the 2010 Women’s Forum on ‘Women Rising: New Aspirations, New Challenges’ at The Empire Hotel and Country Club.

However, despite some of the challenges faced by women in Brunei, the female population in the Sultanate have had and continue to enjoy the benefits and protection bestowed on them by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Brunei’s laws have enacted several legislations designed for the protection of women and girls in the Sultanate through, among others, the 2007 Compulsory Education Order, Employment Order of 2009, Work Place Safety and Health Order of 2009, Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order of 2004, Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Act of 1938, Old Age and Disability Pensions Act of 1954 and the Women and Girls Protection Act of 1972.

“The government fully recognises the importance of women’s role in the socio-economic development of the country and this is reflected in Brunei’s Vision of 2035, which stresses on equal opportunities for women in the workforce and nation building,” said Brunei’s first female Deputy Minister.

According to Datin Hajah Adina, in 2009, women constituted 47 per cent of the population in Brunei of which 75.3 per cent comprised women under 40.

Despite these numbers, however, Brunei still needs to increase the number of women in leading and decision making positions.

The deputy minister cited Brunei’s National Development Plan 2007-2012 that acknowledges the percentage of women in the civil service and private sector holding higher positions is “still low”.

“Increasing the participation of women in leadership and decision-making levels is critical to ensure that women’s issues are placed on the national agenda,” she said.

Although great strides have been achieved in the equality of education, employment, skills and knowledge acquisition, healthcare and protection against violence, Datin HajahAdina still believes that it needs to “go beyond the basic level by increasing the quality of services and nature of development for women”.

“In recognition of this, the Ministerial Level National Council on Social Issues has identified women’s issues as one of the issues to be addressed,” revealed the deputy minister. Issues such as gender sensitisation and gender responsive budgeting are just a few of the areas to be discussed by the council to be assisted by a Special Committee on Women and the Family Institution.

Gender inequality continues to plague male-dominated societies that still exist in most parts of the world, especially in Asia as women battle poverty, illiteracy, health, HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and even the gender gap in political and decision-making arenas.

The Women’s Forum, organised annually by Asia Inc Forum, brought together over 200 women from the business community, government, academia, and entrepreneurs and members of women organisations and social circles to lean, network and share experiences on key issues challenges and the important roles of women in finance, leadership and entrepreneurship

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