First of its Kind Women in Local Governance Forum Held in the Maldives

December 12, 2023
Photo Courtesy: President's Office

Malé, December 13, 2023: The Local Government Authority (LGA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Maldives, with the generous support of UK Aid from the British people, has concluded the inaugural 'Ranhiru Dharbaaru' Women in Local Governance Forum in the Maldives. This forum, which took place from December 12-13, 2023, marks the first of its kind, focusing on empowering and promoting inclusivity for women councillors and members of Women's Development Committee (WDC). 

The opening ceremony of the Women in Local Governance Forum, which also saw the participation of the First Lady of the Republic of Maldives, Her Excellency Sajidha Mohamed, and Minister of Cities, Local Government and Public Works, Honourable Adam Shareef, signified the commencement of a comprehensive participatory dialogue designed to enhance inclusivity and representation in local governance. The forum emphasized creating awareness and collaboration to increase women's participation in the electoral process and enhance their representation in political institutions. This effort aims to systematically assess and enhance women's engagement in decision-making processes at all levels of government.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development has also extended its support to the forum in carrying out the discussions.

The Maldives has made remarkable progress in recent years towards promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. Notably, UNDP played a pivotal role in supporting the amendment of the Decentralization Act, introducing a 33% quota for women in local councils. This initiative led to a substantial increase in women's representation, reaching 39.6% during the fourth-term local council election in 2021.

To consolidate these gains, UNDP with the support of its partners continued its commitment to women's empowerment and leadership, providing training programs for various audiences, including women’s wings of political parties, members of women’s development committees, women interested in leadership, and young girls.

While there has been a noticeable increase in women's political participation, there remains a need for a comprehensive evaluation of the extent of their increased involvement. The Women in Local Governance Forum provides a crucial platform for women councillors to engage in constructive dialogue about gender-specific challenges, enabling them to identify and address pressing issues in their public participation.

By the conclusion of the two-day forum, participants will collaborate to create a list of action points based on the issues and solutions discussed. This list, along with the Assessment of Gender Dynamics in Local Governance being conducted by UNDP and LGA, will serve as a guide in developing an overall position paper. These resources will be utilized as key advocacy strategies, sharing collective expertise and experience to support policies that promote women’s active involvement in local governance.

"We are dedicated to garnering widespread support for our steadfast commitment to the Maldives, working towards the implementation of inclusive policies. Witnessing the tangible realization of these policies in crucial areas like women's safety, healthcare, education, economic empowerment, and political participation for women is a source of great privilege for us," affirmed Enrico Gaveglia, UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives.

The two-day forum saw the participation from all administrative atolls and cities of the Maldives. A total of 46 women councillors from the north and south of the country, along with WDC members, actively participated in the event which aimed at fostering collaboration, networking, and addressing gender-based challenges in local governance.