Women as Leaders


AISHATH NAAZLY, PRESIDENT OF RASGETHEEM ISLAND COUNCIL. PHOTO: UNDP MALDIVES 2012.

“People in my island have this assumption that from a religious and social perspective, having a woman heading things will lead to no good. This is difficult for me to hear, but it will not stop me.” – Aishath Naazly, President, Rasgetheem Council.

When Aishath Naazly first attended a workshop (supported by UNDP in collaboration with a coalition of NGOs and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives), targeted at women councillors a few years back, she had just started campaigning for a seat in her island’s Council. “Now, we are elected, and are attending this forum with responsibilities on our shoulders,” says Naazly, a participant at the recent UNDP-organized Forum for Women Councillors.

Highlights

  • Naazly attended the first workshop organized by UNDP, targeted at contesting women councillors a few years back.
  • She participated at the subsequent workshop, 'Forum for Women Councillors', as an elected official.
  • Naazly says that one of the most important lessons learnt at the Forum for Women Councillors is to be more assertive and to say no when the occasion calls for it.
  • The forum presented the opportunity to properly connect with women council members from across the country.

“At that first workshop, I got inspiration for my campaign slogan ‘Empowering Women’, which led to me contesting with 17 others on my island, majority of them men, and coming in first in the polls. Now I am President of the Island Council,” says a beaming and determined Naazly.

Naazly says that one of the most important lessons learnt at the Forum for Women Councillors is to be more assertive and to say no when the occasion calls for it. “In the forum we learnt that contrary to popular belief held by our communities, we can contribute on the same level as men.  It has shown us the way to go forward, even with the challenges we face,” says Naazly, who is grateful for the support she receives from her husband, as well as her fellow council members as she carries out the demanding and complex responsibilities as the President of the Council.

She also appreciates the opportunity presented at the forum to properly connect with not only women council members from across the country, but the Local Government Authority actors, opening up the avenue to maintain more productive networks with these key actors in the long run.

Naazly, who prior to attending the forum had just wrapped up discussions at her council on a proper building code to maintain Rasgetheem island’s facade,  is intent on passing on the knowledge she has acquired at the forum to her community, and educate them on the significant and essential role women can play in development.

“There are still people who think that a woman’s work and role is not valid. I am here to change that,” the mother of one says.