10th March 2014 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

International Women’s Day 2014: Inspiring Change

This is a guest blog by Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, to commemorate International Women’s Day 2014.


As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2014, I wish all women of the world a great year ahead of us. In the past decades, we have seen great advances in women’s development and their rights in terms of equal access to education, employment, public resources and services as well as family and property.  However, as we are painfully aware, such is not the case in all parts of our world. We know that discrimination against women still exists, be it in written or unwritten form. We know that our sisters are still struggling for access to basic necessities and services, education, health, equal pay and freedom from violence and poverty.

This year International Women’s Day theme “Inspiring Change” is recognition of the fact that each and every one of us is born with individual qualities and possess infinite potential. We need to believe in ourselves, to realize that we can impact our society, if not the world. Changes may be perceived as a challenge, but changes are imperative towards any progression and to breach existing barriers. If women choose not to move forward and not to make any changes, they will continue to struggle for their life and continue to encounter every day facts of violence, conflict and discrimination.

The empowerment of women is a long process. Women need to be united, to support other women in order to develop and move forward. We need to know that we are not alone and that real support is available.

At the community level, change is necessary in order to remove stigma and prejudices related to women, in particular single mothers, widows, divorcees who are forced to survive on their own. The role of immediate family and friends as a main support mechanism is essential to empower, encourage, motivate and inspire them.  However, there is also a need to improve on the feasibility of legislative, infrastructure, supportive as a holistic framework that encourages independence of women in daily life such as access to justice, public services and employment.

May we all be inspired by this year’s theme “Inspiring Change” and in our own little ways, strive towards bettering the lives of women.