Message by His Excellency Abdulla Shahid on the occasion of the International Women’s Day

Message by His Excellency Abdulla Shahid on the occasion of ... Image 1


08 March 2021

Every year, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate women and girls among us who have persevered in the face of numerous challenges and disparities that have denied them their rightful place in society. Today, and every day, we must recognise the crucial role played by women in our societies, as mothers, as mentors and as leaders who pave the path for our success and who shape our futures.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has greatly undermined the progress attained in dismantling the patriarchal norms and gender-based discrimination that is rampant across the globe. On the other hand, during this pandemic as in many past crises, we also witnessed women taking the lead, with utmost resilience and steering the global response to this deadly crisis at a commendable pace. It is only just, that we mark this significant occasion this year, under the theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World”.

True to its matriarchal roots that held women at the helm of nationhood, the Maldives has achieved several milestones in the empowerment of women. From national campaigns aimed at eliminating gender-based violence, to the adoption of the Gender Equality Act and the achieving of gender parity among the Maldives’ Heads of Missions abroad, the journey has been rewarding. We remain steadfast in our advocacy for gender equality and inclusion, guided by the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).

Today, I applaud Maldivian women, who’s determination has led to the breaking of cultural and societal barriers that have previously prevented them from assuming leadership positions. From the Constitution of 2008 that allowed, for the first time in Maldives, for women to contest for the post of President and the recently passed amendment to the Decentralisation Act allowing a 33% quota for women in Councils, women have been at the forefront as catalysts in bringing about these desirable changes that will benefit generations to come. They have shown their courage, not just as survivors, but as champions of change. Today, we mark the many leaders who have gone before us, who have fought this battle and paved the way for women and girls to excel and to choose their own destiny. I am confident that Maldivian women and girls will do even more, to ensure that the road ahead is one of equity and equality – a path that is free from discrimination and gender-based violence.

When women are given the freedom and liberty to shape their own destiny, we see nations thriving; we see the world content. Let us make this an everyday reality and move closer to victory in our battle against patriarchal norms and gender discrimination.