U.S. Embassy Launches YSEALI Regional Workshop on Advancing Gender Equality

October 8, 2019 – The U.S Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan launched the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Generation Workshop: Advancing Gender Equality, held from 7-11 October, 2019 with implementing partner Wedu, an organization specializing in women’s leadership development and mentorship. Bringing together 50 emerging leaders from all the eleven YSEALI member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Timor-Leste), the workshop is an avenue for participants to find collaborative solutions to improve opportunities for women and encourage cross-border cooperation across the ASEAN region.

U.S. Ambassador Matthew J. Matthews with Guest of Honor, Legislative Council Member Hafimi Abdul Haadii
U.S. Ambassador Matthew J. Matthews with Guest of Honor, Legislative Council Member Hafimi Abdul Haadii

The opening ceremony was launched by U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Matthew J. Matthews, and Guest of Honor Legislative Council Member Hafimi Abdul Haadii. Other special guests included members of the Diplomatic Community from ASEAN nations, representations from the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, and guests from the United States Mission to ASEAN. The event took place at the Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong.

During the Opening Ceremony, Ambassador Matthews stated, “Young people must be involved in addressing ASEAN’s national, regional, and global challenges. It is my hope that this workshop will help the YSEALI delegates to increase their knowledge and skills in being advocates for gender equality, and that each of our participants will leave here with a firm understanding on how to promote the advancement of women in their own communities.”

The workshop will include networking with peers and mentors, panel sessions with industry experts, a cultural visit to learn how Teraja Longhouse is empowering women, and the opportunity to design and pitch a project based on the workshop theme “Advancing Gender Equality.” The selected projects will be funded and implemented in their home countries.

The program consists of three phases, starting with pre-workshop virtual learning and webinars from July to September 2019, a three-day workshop in Brunei Darussalam in October 2019, and post-workshop activities from October to December 2019. During the workshop, participants will be exposed to information sessions and skills training with experts specializing in specific topics related to the issue of gender equality in the region. Moreover, participants will be invited to develop innovative solutions to specific gender equality issues and present their project ideas in front of a panel of judges to win funding to implement selected projects. Five projects will be selected to receive this funding, and the impact of the workshop will be extended to more communities through the projects that participants will implement after the workshop.

The creation of an inclusive network engaging both women and men is important toward obtaining gender equality and women’s empowerment. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Women’s empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality, and youth have a key role to play as drivers of change in adopting innovative approaches to unconscious biases, women’s empowerment, and gender mainstreaming in public and private sector. The workshop will create a network of young Southeast Asian leaders who work across national borders to promote the advancement of women in society and solidify partnerships that include both men and women to narrow the gender gap together.

U.S. Embassy Bandar Seri Begawan is working with implementing partner Wedu, an organization that nurtures the leadership development of women in Asia by supporting their unique journeys with leadership training, mentorship, and funding for education. For this workshop, Wedu has engaged local implementing partner, the Big BWN Project, which supports youth development projects and young entrepreneurs by creating platforms and projects for exposure to build their brands and businesses, and also giving those established online the ability to have an offline relationship with their potential customers.