Alhamdulillah, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, Brunei Darussalam is once again able to celebrate International Women’s Day.

In 1975, The United Nations recognized March 8 as the date for International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world in social, economic, cultural and political aspects.

The theme for International Women’s Day recommended by the United Nations for 2022 is “Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow” with the hashtag #BreaktheBias.

In the context of climate change, policies and programmes on climate risk mitigation and disaster risk reduction, this theme recognises the contributions of women and girls around the  world, who are also championing climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all.

According to the United Nations, issues of climate change and sustainability have and will continue to have a significant and lasting impact on the environment in particular, and on economic and social development in general. It also leaves deep impacts on the vulnerable groups. These include women, who are increasingly recognised as being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly in developing countries and rural areas where women are more reliant on natural resources which are threatened by climate change.

As such, we are proud that women and girls have and continue to be effective leaders and change-makers who are spearheading efforts to address the effects of climate change and mitigation. They have been involved in creating and delivering sustainability initiatives around the world in which their participation and leadership have resulted in highly effective climate action. Therefore, it is important that we continue to empower voices of women and girls, and be provided the opportunity to make decisions on climate change to develop sustainability.

It is important that we continue to empower voices of women and girls, and be provided the opportunity to make decisions on climate change to develop sustainability.

Alhamdulillah, in Brunei Darussalam we fully recognise the importance of the role of women in the socio-economic development of the country while acknowledging that the equality of rights and empowerment of women, in addition to being a fundamental human right, is essential for women’s progress.

Our country remains committed to the development of all sectors as embodied in Vision 2035, towards educated, highly skilled and successful people, improving the quality of life and a dynamic and sustainable economy.

According to the latest statistics, more than 55 percent of women aged 15 to 65 years old are part of the workforce that contributes to national development. They serve in a wide range of capacities in the public sector all the way to high ranks and positions, and in the private sector until the highest levels in key sectors such as finance, telecommunications, construction as well  as info-communication and technology. This includes areas traditionally ventured by men such as security forces.

In the climate change sector in particular, our country adopts a Whole-of-Nation approach in the formation of the Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy, which has been prepared to shape the country’s direction towards becoming a sustainable nation that is low in carbon and climate resilient.

We also see the existence of environmental groups and  associations led and championed by women such as Beach Bunch, Green Brunei and Panaga Natural History Society, who, together with the government, undertake responsibilities in raising awareness to the public on the importance of mitigating the impacts of climate change.

On this meaningful day, apart from celebrating women’s achievements in various aspects, we must also look at the issues that women and girls have faced around the world, including in our own country. We need to raise awareness to the public on issues related to women to further expand the support that can be given to them.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through the Department of Community Development (JAPEM) plans to hold the ninth International Women’s Day Celebration in 2022 in collaboration with various government agencies, private, non-governmental organisations such as the Women’s Council, Brunei Youth Council (MBB) and women  advocates.

Several events planned this year are with the intention of providing a platform for women to share their opinions and discuss issues of interest for women in Brunei Darussalam. All this will be channeled to a study on women’s development for Brunei  Darussalam which will begin this year, in an effort to strengthen the Plan of Action on  Women, under the National Council on Social Issues (MKIS), InsyaAllah.

Undoubtedly, the role and contribution of women in Brunei Darussalam is important for socio-economic development and the preservation of peace and security. They contributed equally to achieve economic progress, family well-being, social and prosperity of the country. We highly appreciate and express our deepest gratitude to such significant contributions.

Last but not least: Happy International Women’s Day to all women in Brunei  Darussalam. We pray for continued prosperity, in unity and in developing the society and economy for our monarch, country, nation and religion.

• YB Dato Hj Aminuddin Ihsan is Brunei’s minister for culture, youth and sports.