BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei is working with ASEAN to develop measures that would allow Southeast Asian countries to improve their social care policies and services, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS) said on Wednesday.

As this year’s ASEAN chair, Brunei will introduce the ‘Comprehensive Framework on Care Economy’ to enhance readiness and responsiveness of social protection measures in the region.

The framework will also look into economic opportunities that improve people’s well-being, a press statement from MCYS said.

MCYS minister YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan POKSMDSP Hj Abidin chaired the 25th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council (ASCC) Meeting via a teleconference on Wednesday.

The meeting discussed the importance of social protection as part of ASEAN’s post-pandemic recovery efforts.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, ASEAN said the framework on care economy is expected to “reframe more comprehensive and enabling ASEAN policies”.

The care economy is growing across the world due to an increasing demand in childcare and elderly care services, but the International Labour Organization (ILO) said protection of care workers is insufficient.

UN Women said care workers still experience persistent low pay and poor working conditions, with women making up 70 percent of poorly paid healthcare workers in the world.

MCYS further said ASEAN looked forward to the establishment of ASEAN Aid to raise greater awareness on the regional grouping’s developments among Southeast Asian citizens.

The meeting also supported Brunei’s proposal to establish the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD) to promote a more coordinated and resilient ASEAN community.