Local non-profit organisation on gender equality and women's empowerment, Uthema Maldives, issued a statement on Tuesday commemorating Maldives' historic first instance for women justices to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Former High Court Judge Dr Azmiralda Zahir and former Civil Court Judge Aisha Shujune Mohamed were appointed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to the Supreme Court bench on Wednesday.
According to Uthema, the process by which the two female judges' names were nominated by President Solih, consulted by the Judicial Service Commission, approved by the Parliamentary Judicial Committee, and received a clear majority vote in favour of their appointment to the apex court by the parliament, is a marker of legitimate development in the Maldives.
The NGO further commemorated the hard work of every citizen and relevant institutions in contributing to make such a momentous landmark change to the legal system.
In their statement, Uthema revealed that it had expressed sentiments to President Solih upon his nomination of the two judges on August 22.
It further stated that having female representation in the Justice System from the very bottom stage to the top is an integral historic development for not just women, but also the entirety of Maldives.
Uthema further highlighted the attendance and participation of President Solih, former president and incumbent Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed, and the cabinet at the screening of their film, 'The Judge', in collaboration with the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage, and the subsequent discussion held in July.
The organisation congratulated Judge Dr Azmiralda Zahir and Judge Aisha Shujune Mohamed over their new appointments with a clear majority vote from the 62 parliamentarians out of 64 attending the sitting held on September 3.
Uthema noted that the appointment was a step towards advancement for Maldives to appoint its first female judges to the Supreme Court within 10 years since the first appointment of a female judge.
The first female judge was appointed to the lower court in 2007. Moreover, a female judge was appointed to the High Court in 2010.
Identifying countries such as Jordan, Palestine, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, Uthema noted that female judges were serving in many Muslim-majority societies across the world. Notably, Malaysia appointed a female Chief Justice in May 2019.
Uthema is a Maldivian NGO registered in 2016 with the Ministry of Home Affairs to advocate for gender equality and women's empowerment in Maldives.
The NGO seeks to understand the lived experiences of women in Maldives and use that knowledge to advocate for positive change to improve the lives of women.