A woman’s place is in… POLITICS

March 12, 2021

Photo: Jane Dinh

None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. 

That’s the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum, which reveals that

'it will take another 99.5 years for the world to achieve gender-equal political representation if we continue at our current pace.'

This is a trend that needs immediate reversal. This is the giant leap for womankind in politics that UNDP with support of our partners are trying to achieve. 

UNDP Maldives is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and Goal 5 on Gender Equality remains a key focus of our work. We work with our partners to shape a future of equal participation for women in decision-making bodies and the political process in Maldives. This is a necessary foundation for achieving inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for the country.

With women’s empowerment and gender equality high on our agenda, our work on women’s political leadership in 2020 saw skills-building of 108 female candidates contesting for local councils and Women’s Development Committee's from three atolls as part of our women’s political empowerment trainings.

From one of the sessions on Women's Political Empowerment Trainings conducted by UNDP. Photo: UNDP Maldives

We have also been championing a gender-sensitive approach to local planning: we assisted with revising the planning handbook for local councils, to integrate gender inclusive planning processes in local level planning.

In the Maldives, political parties play a key role in determining the political participation and representation of women in the political sphere. At present, while women are represented at the grassroots level, they are largely absent from decision-making bodies of the parties. The power rests upon political parties to recruit and select candidates for the parliament and island councils.

Our work with political parties continues to strengthen their women’s wings and create avenues for increased engagement of women in the political sphere and provide support to strengthen the voice and impact of women and young people within political parties.

We have begun work on helping to strengthen the role of women within political parties through reframing internal structures and the activities conducted by the parties.

In addition, stakeholder consultations were held in 2020 with Women’s Wings and Youth Wings of political parties, government institutions, and women and youth-focused civil society organizations. Participants of these consultations identified the need for ongoing capacity development and training programs targeted at young women and men who are members of political parties.

Within political parties, capacities varied considerably amongst young members, but there was strong agreement across all stakeholders that young people were critical to the success of the Maldives’ future democracy. Additionally, while some women within parties were already highly skilled, many felt that there was still a substantial need to offer training for a wider group of female political party members as well.

Keeping this in mind, UNDP has designed two training sessions in 2021: one for Youth Wings and the other for Women’s wings and interested women in political parties. 

From the virtual Youth Wings Training held this year.

The trainings have been designed in support of the mandates of existing Youth Wings and Women’s Wings of political parties, which most Maldivian political parties have already established. This initiative recognizes the importance of ensuring that the voices of both young people and women are more effectively heard and integrated into the decision-making processes of political parties, as a means of influencing national and local decision-making. To this end, this training aims to strengthen their understanding of key political processes, how they can better engage in these processes and how they can effectively advocate within political structures on issues of importance to youth and women.

A poster announcing the launch of 'Kiyeveni Portal' launched to provide skill building opportunities for women across the nation to boost their participation in the political sphere. Artwork by: Local Government Authority.

Adopting technology to reach women around the country, we have also launched ‘Kiyeveni’ Learning Portal as an extension of the Women's Leadership training held last year. The learning portal is a joint initiative of Local Government Authority, Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and UNDP with the support of the Government of Australia and UK, to provide skills-building opportunities for women across the nation to boost their participation in the political sphere. This assists our efforts to continue providing skills-building opportunities in a challenged environment, and is a more sustainable model that can be better utilized by our partners.

"The 33% quota in the amendments to the Decentralization Act meant more women than ever were going to be represented in the local councils, as decision makers in the island communities." - Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives.

Find out more about our work on empowering women and encouraging women’s political leadership and representation: 

UNDP commences work on helping to strengthen the role of women within political parties | UNDP in Maldives

UNDP Commences Trainings for Youth Wings and Women’s Wings of Political Parties | UNDP in Maldives

A Maldives street during campaign time. Photo: Jane Dinh