Local women's rights NGO Uthema conducted a panel discussion at Maagiri Hotel under the name 'Bridge the Gap' in collaboration with advocacy partner Women Deliver 2019 (WD2019) and the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Several prominent civil society members and state officials attended the discussion, which was launched to initiate a conversation on women’s rights issues with a particular focus on inconsistencies between policies and lived realities.
Notable attendees included Minister of Housing and Urban Development Aminath Athifa, and Aneesa Ahmed who founded Hope For Women and the current Chairperson of the National Awards Committee.
Moomina Haleem, the first woman elected to parliament and former Minister of Health, attended the panel discussion as the guest of honour.
The panel, moderated by Dheebanaz Fahmy, consisted of Uthema Co-founder Humaida Abdul Ghafoor, UNFPA Assistant Representative Shadhiya Ibrahim and lawyer Aisha Shujune Muhammad.
Commencing with a brief introduction on how each panellist became involved in advocating for gender equality, the discussion moved on to address a wide range of topics impacting women's lives including wealth distribution, imbalances in care work, the need to reform the education system, and reasons behind low rates of political participation of women.
Concluding the discussion, Dheebanaz asked the crowd for any questions or comments. A male participant took the opportunity to note that fewer gaps existed at a representative level and asked for solutions.
In response, Humaida stated that numbers had actually gone down before she thanked him for voicing his thoughts, emphasised the importance of state institutions initiating reforms to close the gaps in question, and expressed eagerness to see such encouraging measures.
Uthema plans to release a position paper which proposes suggestions to achieve the objective of policy coherence in addressing gender inequality and gender-based discrimination experienced by Maldivian women in the social, economic and political spheres.