At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), a Maldives delegation while debating on 'Advancement of Women', on Monday urged that it should be ensured that women are not treated as 'followers' or merely 'beneficiaries', but as 'leaders', 'contributors' and 'agents of change'.
The statement was delivered by the second secretary at the permanent mission of the Maldives to the United Nations, Zeena Mohamed Didi, where she highlighted the country’s "efforts towards achieving gender equality".
“Our policy to achieve gender equality is clear: continue to invest in girls and women, continue to give them the right tools to realise their true potential, and continue to introduce structural and normative changes to enable women to fight for their constitutionally guaranteed rights before the law. We believe that misinterpretation of tradition or religion is not a valid basis for discriminatory practices against women and girls.”
The statement also noted that the country's inclusive education policy guarantees that "all girls have equal access to education", while the Employment Act guarantees that "men and women have equal access to employment and equal pay for equal work".
"The government has set a goal to ensure that at least one-third of all the board members are women in the state-owned companies. At the national level, the government has also adopted measures to integrate gender perspectives in policy, planning, and budgeting."
Despite the the country's achievements, the delegation said it is sharply conscious that four decades after the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and two decades after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, the country has not been able to "achieve a world where girls and women are able to fully enjoy their rights".
The statement noted that the recently enacted Gender Equality Act, “which is a groundbreaking legislation in the country's history”, sets out the role of the government, business entities, non-governmental organisations and other employers in the implementation of this Act, It also requires the state and political parties to ensure that equal opportunities exist for women and men to participate at all levels in political life. The Act seeks to ensure gender equality in all spheres of society and give full effect to the equal rights guaranteed by the Maldives’ Constitution.
"Investing in women today means investing in the future of the world. We need to accelerate our efforts, both domestically and at the international front to ensure that we are indeed, leaving no one behind," the statement by the delegation reads.