Brunei women, men urged to unite in fight to ensure gender equality

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ ANN) - Women in the 21st Century too face challenges as the current workplace culture designed by and for men is not working to ensure gender equality, said co-founder of Brunei Womenpreneur Network (BWN) Noorhafizah binti Haji Rashid.

In her welcoming remarks at an event to mark the Women Equality Day celebration, jointly hosted by BWN and Dilmah T Lounge yesterday, she noted that “there are different forces – from latent bias to blatant sexism – that hold women back from advancing up the ladder. Both women and men should come together in the fight for equality – as mentioned by Forbes ‘Equality is not a female issue, it’s a social and economic imperative’,” she said.

“Today in Brunei, majority of university graduates are women, many businesses are run by women and there are more women taking up senior level roles in the corporate world. Despite that, we still have a problem where women are not getting promoted to higher roles,” she added.

“Regardless of job or background, every woman has her own story,” said Noorhafizah, adding that one of the problems today is the lack of visibility for women doing remarkable things; some impactful stories don’t get shared at all.

“How do we expect our next generation to lead if we’re not sharing with them our stories and journeys and inspiring them to take up leadership roles? When women help other women rise, we all shine,” she said.

Earlier in the speech, touching on the brief history of Women’s Equality Day, she pointed out that the event was first started on August 26, 1971 in the United States (US) to secure voting rights for women.

“It took 42 years for the US government to finally see that no one should be denied the right to vote based on their gender. The initiative’s success can be attributed to a group of passionate women – and some men – who worked for changing and rewriting old rules that were no longer working.”

Yesterday’s event began with sharing sessions, led by founder of BenchLab Wan Nurul Naszeera and a member of BWN Wina Hafizah binti Haji Sallehuddin.

This was followed by an ice-breaking session where each person had to introduce and tell three things about themselves, and explain why they were at the event.

The highlight of the day was a panel discussion, led by five inspiring women. The speakers at the event, mostly business owners operating in several male-dominated industrial sectors, shared their views on gender equality.

The discussion was participated by Managing Director of Flux Supna; founder of Ash Health & Fitness Sharimawati; ophthalmologist from Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital Dr Nooraffizan; and co-founder of Tyne Solutions Aimi.