Bandar Seri Begawan - Bruneian women feel that they are moving forward, but at the same time they need to strike a balance between work and family.
"Times have changed. Before, most women stayed at home, (maybe) to sleep and are unheard of. Now we are moving forward with time," said a 50-year-old finance officer at the Ministry of Education who did no wish to be named.
"It gets boring and the mind gets stale if you just stay at home all the time," she said, adding that she thought it was better for women to find ideas on earning extra income to help their husbands.
"(Now) more are educated and hold good careers," said the mother of five.
Saireen Hj Ibrahim, 22, agrees that more and more women in Brunei are proving that they can handle professions previously dominated by males.
"Now we have more female doctors, pilots, judges,"said Saireen, a salesgirl at The Body Shop. She felt it was a sign that women were succeeding better in their attempts to juggle family and career commitments. However, she was also aware that some women were neglecting their family and home in favour of their career.
"This should not be a problem. Women must be good with time management and try their best to divide their time equally between the office and home," she said.
A 36-year-old former teacher who became a stay-at-home mother after the birth of her first and only child six years ago said she believes being a wife and mother is still a job to be reckoned with.
"Women, in their race to become equal with men, often forget this. I think there has to be a balance," she said, adding that once her daughter reaches adolescence, she might consider going back to work.
Mother-of-four Rosita Hj Yaacob, a Malaysian married to a local, is of the opinion that Brunei should open itself up to more opportunities.She seemed frustrated with her perceived limitations on what was deemed appropriate for women in Brunei to be involved in.
"It is quite difficult for us outsiders because in Malaysia, everything is possible now. Even back during my mother‘s time," said Rosita.
She did admit, however, that there was a downside to Brunei relaxing its social expectations of women: social ills which could accompany "globalisation".
The proliferation of bad influences has put Rosita, who has two daughters aged 16 and 12, on her guard as a mother, and she does not believe things will improve anytime soon.
Source: www.bruneitimes.com (9 Juli 2007)