Brunei women third highest paid in world

  • Datin Hjh Adina Othman (2nd R), the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, at the APEC Women and the Economy Forum in St Petersburg, Russia. Picture: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports

WOMEN in Brunei earn the third highest estimated income in the world, making an average of US$38,000 annually, according to the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman cited the Global Gender Gap Report 2011 in her speech during the APEC Women and The Economy Forum at St Petersburg, Russia, on June 30, where she added that women in Brunei do not pay taxes and are entitled to free healthcare and education.

The report ranked Brunei third after Luxembourg and Norway, where women earn an estimated US$59,570 and $US49,498 respectively.

In terms of income per capita, women in Brunei earn more than their female counterparts in Switzerland, United States, Singapore, Netherlands, Sweden and Australia. Meanwhile, women from neighbouring Indonesia were ranked 109, behind Malaysia at 107 in the report.

The deputy minister said that women in Brunei, who make up 47 per cent of its 400,000 population, have enjoyed positive development and continued progress.

"Women are given equal rights and opportunities in education, training, healthcare, employment, business, ownership of assets, benefits and citizenship among others," she said, pointing out that Brunei ranks 20th in the world in terms of economic participation of women.

In the business sector, more than half of SMEs are owned by women with equal access to the provision of incentives and entrepreneurial support.

The deputy minister further said that female employees are privy to the same work terms and fringe benefits as their male counterparts as illustrated in Brunei's standing of 29th in the world in terms of equal pay.

She said that the participation of women in economic development has contributed positively to the prosperity of the nation.

Since 1971, the participation of women in the labour force has jumped from 20 per cent to 58 per cent in 2010. Women today constitute about 50.4 per cent of the civil service, where 28 per cent of women occupy senior management posts. Meanwhile, the ratio of female to male in the labour force is 62 to 78. Brunei has the 34th highest ratio of female participation as legislators, senior officials and managers.

"Even though women are working and holding full-time jobs, women's responsibility in taking care of the family should remain intact. It has therefore become imperative for women to learn how to balance their workload with their traditional responsibilities at home," said Datin Hjh Adina. She said that it is imperative for women to ensure that the family security is not negatively affected. "With the increase in working women, men will also need to adjust their expectations and also learn new skills. Parenting responsibilities should be shared by both mother and father," she said, adding that women are entitled to 105 days of paid maternity leave.

Other measures to address the work-life balance include the provision of monthly educational allowances for children who attend private schools.

Both male and female employees are also entitled to paid leave, which covers air transportation for them and their children to a neighbouring country every four years.

Datin Hjh Adina described Brunei as an emerging country with women who have made progress in many areas. She said that Brunei ranks 11th in the world in the participation of females in tertiary education.

'Brunei has in place a sound infrastructure in terms of human capital, in the provision of education, health and other basic human needs," she said.

In her speech, the deputy minister said that Brunei hopes the forum will achieve its objectives in order to mobilise the much-needed political and practical support for the economic empowerment of women in APEC economies.

"Brunei fully supports APEC initiatives," she said. The Brunei Times

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