“Digital Economy and Financial Inclusion for Improving ASEAN Women’s Competitiveness”

15 October 2021

Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd.) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports attended the 4th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (4th AMMW) which was held via video conference. The meeting was officiated by His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, and chaired by Her Excellency Madam Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Republic of Indonesia, and was attended by the Secretary General of ASEAN as well as Ministers responsible for women affairs from ASEAN Member States.

With the theme of "Digital Economy and Financial Inclusion for Improving ASEAN Women's Competitiveness", the 4th AMMW was held to promote constructive dialogue and regional synergies oriented towards creating an enabling environment for women.

The 4th AMMW Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to promote the equality and empowerment of women and girls in the ASEAN region, and emphasized the important role of women in the development and resilience of the ASEAN community. Towards this end, Ministers agreed on the importance for all ASEAN Member States to review and reconfigure relevant policies and programs to ensure inclusive transformation initiatives, including equality for women in the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. Also emphasized were for efforts that include women in the digital economy through increased access to support and financial information.

Yang Berhormat the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, amongst others, shared a few of Brunei Darussalam’s initiatives, such as the provision of fiscal and economic support packages, including business counselling and skills training, to help manage the economic impact of the pandemic on MSMEs which are mostly fronted by women. Virtual social enterprise marketplace platforms such as the “Community for Brunei”, designed to help small businesses digitalise, mobilise and scale in the move towards IR 4.0, was also shared.

Yang Berhormat the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports also shared that the Brunei Darussalam Digital Economy Masterplan 2025 was launched in June last year, which will support the objectives of Brunei Darussalam's Vision 2035, and further deepen the strides on women's participation and skills in science, technology, maths, engineering and mathematics fields in the country.

Yang Berhormat Dato also shared that Brunei Darussalam will be undertaking a Study on Women’s Development, which will be used to strengthen the Plan of Action on Women under the National Council on Social Issues.

The theme of the 4th AMMW “Digital Economy and Financial Inclusion for Improving ASEAN Women’s Competitiveness”, is in line with the theme of Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN 2021 Chairmanship, “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”. towards ensuring that ASEAN remain relevant, and prepared for the future together, and not overlook the implications of digital transformation and the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

In this regard, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports also shared several of Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN 2021 Chairmanship deliverables relevant to the theme of the 4th AMMW, such as enhancing financial literacy, as well as the adoption of a resolution by the 42nd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) presided by Brunei Darussalam in August this year, on promoting women’s economic empowerment in the future of work and post-pandemic recovery through digital and financial Inclusion”

The 4th AMMW also took note of the progress report by the chair of the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), including the completion of the ACW Work Plan 2016-2020, the ACW Work Plan 2021-2025, the deliberations of the 18th, 19th and 20th ACW Meetings, and other important developments. Yang Berhormat Dato welcomed the inclusion of a strategic initiative under the new ACW Work Plan 2021-2025, to develop the ASEAN Master Plan on Women’s Development, which Brunei Darussalam will be leading on together with Singapore and Viet Nam.

During the meeting, the Ministers also held a dialogue with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The Ministers also endorsed the Joint Statement of The Fourth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting On Women and welcomed Myanmar as the chair and host of the 5th AMMW for 2024.

Also present were Dayang Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari, Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) and senior officials from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. The 4th AMMW was preceded by the 20th ACW Meeting, the 13th ACW Plus Three Meeting, and the 23rd ACW Consultation with the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion on the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) held on the 11th and 12th October 2021. In addition, series of side events including launching of the ASEAN-UNESCAP Joint Report: Women’s MSME Virtual Exhibitions; webinars and workshops for women entrepreneurs were held from 5th to 15th October 2021, and attended by representatives from several government and non-government agencies in ASEAN including Brunei Darussalam’s Women Business Council (WBC); Brunei Darussalam Women’s Council(MWNBD); ASEAN Business Advisory Council and several local women’s Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME).

Source: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984