PERMANENT MISSION OF
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
HIS EXCELLENCY AMBASSADOR JEMAT HAJI AMPAL
CHAIRMAN OF THE DELEGATION OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
TO THE 23RD SPECIAL SESSION OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
"WOMEN 2000: GENDER EQUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND
PEACE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY"
8 JUNE 2000
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WOMEN 2000: GENDER EOUALITY, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election. We look forward to a very successful Session under your wise and skilful guidance as President.
Distinguished delegates and observers, ladies and gentlemen,
As our Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated at the General Assembly on several occasions, Brunei Darussalam wishes to give the United Nations every support in its efforts to improve the day to day lives of ordinary people and bring direct benefits to their families and communities.
Ensuring that women realize their full human potential is an essential aspect of this work. As the Secretary-General said at this session, "...empowering women not only means better lives for a woman, it means better lives for everyone on the planet - men and women alike".
We therefore appreciate the opportunity afforded us at this Session to review that has been achieved since the Beijing Conference.
In this spirit, Mr. President, I would like to report briefly on the progress we have made so far in Brunei Darussalam in fulfilling United Nations recommendations in this area.
We have recognized the overall need to institute policies that are not gender-biased. As a result, we are benefiting considerably from the impact Brunei women are making in all aspects of National Development. This is especially so in education where we have seen a marked increase in the number of female students enrolled at our tertiary education institutions.
The total enrolment of women students in tertiary education increased from just over 50% in 1994 to nearly 70% in 1997. We now have a situation in which women outnumber men at our higher educational institutions. As well as this, school enrolment from pre-school upwards is virtually universal.
In terms of employment, national policy has led to increased job opportunities for women and these have been accompanied by a marked shift in social attitudes towards the professional standing of women. Equal job opportunities now exist in the civil service and have been matched by equal pay.
In economic development, women in Brunei Darussalam are playing a very important role in our National Plan. The percentage of women in the labour force has steadily increased in the last five years and is now well over 50%. At the same time, the government, NGO's and private organisations have recognized the needs of working mothers and have taken measures to counter possible adverse effects on families.
In private enterprises, Brunei women are extremely active in business ventures both locally and abroad. In this field, the government also provides equal incentives to men and women, and has particularly encouraged women to develop their own small - and medium - enterprises (SME's) into high-tech and knowledge-based industries.
In the light of these positive developments, Brunei Darussalam is very pleased to be hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Women Leaders' Network 2000 or APEC WLN 2000 in ten days' time. The theme of this meeting is "SME's as Global Traders", and participants will be looking closely at the challenges and opportunities arising from globalisation.
We have also made progress in the provision of health care, which is cost-effective and accessible to both men and women. Preventive and promotive health care programmes especially for women are given high priority. These include education on reproductive health, safe motherhood, female related cancers, heart diseases and general nutrition. As well as this, through programmes designed to promote antenatal care, breast-feeding and nutritional advice for mothers, we have seen a decline in infant mortality rates.
Overall, the life expectancy of women in our country is presently 78 years compared to 73 years for men.
To protect the welfare of women, children and families, the Government of Brunei Darussalam has recently introduced the Emergency (married women) Order and (Guardianship of Infants) Order, 1999. This protects the rights of those women not covered by the Islamic Family Law. It includes maintenance for wives and children.
These policies are complemented by measures adopted by The Islamic Syariah Court, which also reflect a nation wide concern for the welfare of women under modern conditions.
The Government is also in the process of introducing A Children and Young Persons Act, which will protect the girl child and young women below 18 years of age from discrimination, abuse and neglect.
Strong legislation has existed since 1972 to protect women and girls against sexual exploitation and offences against women and girls are treated extremely seriously. Further legislation and plans of action are also being considered to increase levels of protection for women even further.
We are by no means satisfied that we have provided women in our country with all the needs they require nor the total social protection which is their right.
However, I can assure you that we are conscious of the need to be constantly vigilant in this area. We are ready to join the rest of the international community under the guidance of the United Nations to ensure that women are fully able to realise their potential as happy and productive individuals in our society and as the living heart of our families.
Thank you, Mr. President.