Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a grant of USD 7.51 million to Maldives, to support ADB's "first ever holistic gender equality project" in the Maldives.
The grant was facilitated through the Asian Development Fund, which provides grants to ADB's poorest and most vulnerable member countries.
According to ADB in its statement, Maldives experiences persistent gender equality gaps, "where women continue to shoulder most of the unpaid care work" and gender-based violence is prevalent, though services are limited.
Statistics showed that labor force participation of women is 41.6 percent, while for men it is 84.2 percent. Moreover, 13 percent of women are unemployed due to caregiver roles and domestic responsibilities, whereas only 1 percent of men are unemployed.
The 2016 to 2017 Maldives Demographic and Health Survey had found 17 percent of women aged between 15 to 49 experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 11 percent of the women between the same age group experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.
"The ADB grant will support the Government of Maldives in transformative gender equality initiatives that will minimize gender-based violence and remove barriers that prevent equal rights, participation, and benefits for women," Charlene Liau, the ADB Urban Development Specialist for South Asia said.
"This is consistent with ADB's country partnership strategy for Maldives, which commits to reducing gender disparities by sharpening its approach to gender equality," she added.
The grant will support innovative gender approaches, which have "a catalytic role in changing social norms and discriminatory practices".
ADB's grant also aims to support Maldives Bureau of Statistics in "addressing critical gender equality and social inclusion data gaps", and the Ministry of Finance in "integrating gender-responsive budgeting".
The grant will also be utilized to build climate-resilient shelters for domestic and gender-based violence survivors in Addu city, Hulhumale' and Raa atoll Ungoofaaru.
ADB will provide technical assistance to strengthen the social service system for aged care, early childcare as well as domestic violence and gender-based violence services (DV/GBV).
The bank will reportedly establish partnerships between civil society organizations and the Maldivian government to prevent domestic violence and gender-based violence, and improve access to services and aged care.
The technical assistance reportedly cost USD 2.5 million. Out of this, USD 500,000 will be financed as a grant by ADB's Technical Assistance Special Fund and the remaining USD 2 million will be financed on a grant basis by Japan Special Fund.