Message by His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives on the Occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

25 November 2020

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls falls during a time when the whole world is battling an unforeseen health crisis

This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls falls during a time when the whole world is battling an unforeseen health crisis. A regrettable consequence of measures necessary to inhibit the spread of Covid19, has been the rise in incidences of domestic violence, and the exacerbation of the risk factors for violence against women and girls, such as restricted movement, social isolation, unemployment and economic insecurity. This is unacceptable, and requires targeted assistance.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations around the world – but also among the least reported, and most unaddressed. This year’s theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” recognises the urgent need to address the funding gap in ensuring essential services for survivors of violence during the crisis, and the need to focus on prevention, and raising awareness. This year, the focus is also on collecting data that will support the formulation of policies, and in crafting responses to these incidences.

For our societies to prosper, it is vital that we must end this vicious cycle of violence against women and girls. The Government of Maldives, in partnership with international partners, and local NGOs and stakeholders, has taken a number of measures to ensure support services, including psychosocial support. But, we need to, and must do more!

Violence against women and girls can be addressed within a larger context of empowering women, and ensuring gender equality. Women’s leadership, and enhancing women’s participation in political, economic, and social spheres are integral. The Maldives has come a long way in achieving gender equality. Landmark laws, such as the Gender Equality Act, Domestic Violence Act, Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Harassment Act, and Sexual Offenses Act, have paved the way. But for the full implementation of these laws, cultivating a culture of respect for human rights, the recognition of “women’s rights as human rights” is necessary.

Today, I reaffirm my full commitment to be a champion for women and girls, here in the Maldives and around the world. We reaffirm the commitment of the Maldives, to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence and to work together to build an inclusive, more equitable world for everyone.