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Feminist icon Fathimath Jameel passes away aged 82

Shahudha Mohamed
05 April 2020, MVT 00:21
Fathimath Jameel, who served the Maldivian government and fought for women's rights passed away on April 4. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES
Shahudha Mohamed
05 April 2020, MVT 00:21

Former leader of the first female empowerment organisation established in Maldives Fathimath Jameel passed away on Saturday at the age of 82.

The eldest daughter of former Chief Justice and religious scholar Mohamed Jameel Didi, passed away at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) this afternoon while under treatment after she was taken to the hospital in the morning for some discomfort.

According to a family member, Fathimath was in good health up until Sunday morning, and the complication was sudden and unforeseen.

A voice for women

Fathimath Jameel started fighting for women's rights as the President of Prefatory Committee for Decades of Women's Development created in 1979 during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's administration.

The committee was created under Ministry of Planning to work towards the goals set for the decade, from 1975 to 1985, during the first world conference on women. The main purpose of the committee was to prepare for the second world conference held at Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1980.

Fathimath Jameela represented Maldives in the sessions held to report the progress on the goals set during 1975's conference. She also took part in the third conference held at Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985.

Fathimath Jameel attending an international assembly. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

She was a long-serving employee of the state, who filled the position of Director at the Office for Women's Affairs established in 1982, as well as the post of Director General at the Department of Women's Affairs established in 1998. This was the first official institution created in Maldives for the development of women.

She was also the Deputy Minister of Youth, Women's Affairs and Sports until 2000. In addition, she also represented the President in the Parliament from 1989 to 2000.

She is believed to be a strong leader at a time where fighting for women's rights were crucial. She also traveled to various islands during her tenure to oversee and encourage the work of women's committees across Maldives.

Fathimath Jameel, pictured in a group photo with the members of the women's committee on one of her visits to the islands. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES

"A beacon of hope for women"

Cousin to Fathimath Jameel and Current Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid described her as a beacon of hope for women at a time where challenges for gender equality were abundant.

One of her employees attested to her courage and described her as a productive, efficient and hardworking leader.

"She earned the love of her employees and was a leader confident in her honesty", they said.

Like her father Jameel Didi who was a renowned writer, Fathimath also contributed to Dhivehi literature as well.

Fathimath was married to the late Al Nabeel Hassan Zareer who filled the position of Vice President in former President Ibrahim Nasir's administration.

Hassan Zareer, who also filled the posts of Minister of Education, Minister of Transport and Minister of Provincial Affairs, had four children with Fathimath Jaleel, including Zaahiya Zareer, Zeeniya Zareer, Zarana Zareer and Ahmed Zareer. She also had nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Fahimath Jameel's brothers Fathuhulla Jameel and Abdulla Jameel served the state as well. Fathuhulla was the longest-serving Minister of Foreign Affairs in Maldives while Abdulla was President Maumoon's first executive secretary. He went on to fill the posts of Minister of Health, Minister of Atolls and Minister of President's Office. Fathimath's younger sister Aiminath Jameel was Minister of Health during former President Mohamed Nasheed's tenure.

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