Tap the gains of globalisation
By Sonia K.

Harnessing the opportunities that come with globalisation is quite important, observed Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pg Anak Hjh Saleha in a titah yesterday.

Addressing the 12th Asean Confederation of Women's Organisations (ACWO) General Assembly 2006, Her Majesty said: "We often look at globalisation solely in terms of its challenges to our economies, our societies, our individual cultural identities and ways of life. Addressing these challenges is, of course, vital to ensure that we can manage their impact on our societies. However, I believe that we should also pay equal attention to harnessing the opportunities that come hand-in-hand with these challenges."

This observation was made by Her Majesty in the official opening titah during the opening ceremony of the 12th ACWO General Assembly at the International Convention Centre.

Her Majesty in her titah said the ICT revolution has brought with it the freedom of knowledge through access to the Internet and huge advances in mobile communication. These two basic advances in ICT have generated amazing changes to the lives of people in our region and the ways we live, communicate and interact.

Also present at the opening ceremony were HRH Pg Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar, HRH Paduka Seri Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Sarah, HRH Princess Hjh Masna, HRH Princess Hjh Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam and HRH Princess Hjh Noor Ehsani.

"It pleases me to see this gathering here of women leaders, academics and innovators, to discuss the opportunities provided by the advancements in ICT that are an intrinsic part of the globalisation process," Her Majesty continued.

"It is this ability of ICT to enhance the lives of communities right at the grassroots level that makes it such a valuable tool to women around the world. Access to ICT means much more than just cost-effective communication. It also means access to cost effective education for all levels of society and better opportunities for the younger generation to pursue their dreams of a higher standard of living," Her Majesty said.

"These opportunities can only be realised with the converted action of all stakeholders in the public and private sector, with the principal players being government agencies, their NGO counterparts and the leaders of the private sector throughout the region.

"All stakeholders whether they be from the public or private sector, share the common challenge of providing the requisite environment and infrastructure needed to capitalise on the benefits of ICT.

"Governments must provide the requisite basis for education in ICT to all children, along with legislative and policy frameworks that bring predictability and security to the use of ICT in commercial environments.

"The private sector in turn, has a crucial role in providing services that can generate and sustain an environment, where the widespread use of ICT can prevail and prosper.

"For NGOs, it is incumbent upon them to be the drivers for new ideas and ways to continue developing the usage of ICT and to translate this usage to further improvements to the standards of living of all in society," Her Majesty said.

Her Majesty noted that globalisation has made the world smaller and the impact of ICT can no longer be denied.

"As we move along with globalisation, woman's natural responsibilities must not be forgotten. Our family comes first in our lives," Her Majesty said.

"There is no point in being ICT smart but our homes unattended. Women still need to be a good wife to her husband and a loving mother to her children, and at the same time, she must be able to participate positively to cope with changes globalisation brings to our lives," Her Majesty added.

Meanwhile, Datin Hjh Fatimah Dato Hj Abang Razali noted that the ACWO has placed ICT empowerment high in its agenda and plan of action in order to close the digital divide among us, as women could benefit tremendously with Information Technology.

"This is in line with the aspirations to create a prosperous and economically successful region in Asean," Datin Hjh Fatimah said in her welcoming address.

"ICT will serve to empower them by enhancing their skills, knowledge and information and access to other new technologies. This in turn will generate a healthy, harmonious, peaceful and a higher quality of life for the people of Asean," she said.

The General Assembly of ACWO comprises Board Meetings of the ACWO and the Conference. Sixty-four participants will be deliberating on the theme and will formulate resolutions to enable the ACWO to move forward in this area.

"This assembly in Brunei Darussalam is also an auspicious occasion as 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of ACWO," Datin Hjh Fatimah said.

"This assembly hosted by the Council of Women of Brunei Darussalam also marks the end of Brunei Darussalam's chairmanship of ACWO from 2004 to 2006," she said, adding that by the end of the assembly, it will be handed over to Philippines for the next two years.

The 12th Asean Confederation of Women's Organisations (ACMO) General Assembly 2006 with the theme "ICT Empowerment: e-Commerce and e-Government - Bringing a Higher Quality of Life in Asean will end tomorrow.

It is being hosted by the Council of Women of Brunei Darussalam.

The cutting of the cake to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of ACWO by Her Majesty was also held followed by the introduction of delegates. - Borneo Bulletin (18th Nov 2006)