Speech by Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Maldives, Vera Hakim at the Closing Ceremony of the Practice Parliament for Women Batch 2, 2023

March 28, 2023


Honorable Member of Parliament for Addu Meedhoo Constituency, Rozaina Adam 

His Excellency, Paul Stephens, Australian High Commissioner to the Maldives  

Participants of Practice Parliament for Women  

Officials from People’s Majlis and colleagues  

Assalaam Alaikum. A very good afternoon to you all.   


It gives me great pleasure to see more and more women aspiring to be representatives at the parliament and other public life roles.  

Women around the world continue to inspire and break the glass ceilings in public life. Even if this is the case, women continue to be underrepresented from positions of power and decision-making process at national and local level. Equality is still a long way off, and current progress is far too slow.  Most parliaments are still heavily male-dominated, including the Maldives, which has only 4 women MPs out of 87. There is a need to urgently change this and calling on male parliamentarians to work with their female counterparts to accelerate this change. 

We women, aspiring for a rightful place in public life, face many challenges and obstacles. Barriers to enter and compete within the political party systems, limited access to campaign financing, nepotism and favoritism, household double burdens, misogyny and an overwhelming number of unfair expectations women live up to.  

We women, also face a disproportionate amount of violence, harassment, discrimination and intimidation when we aim to go into public life. Because of this, many women are discouraged from running for office. 

You are here to challenge all of this. Your ambitions and grit motivate us. I am here not only as your biggest supporter, but as your partner to join forces with you, to challenge this system that has so long kept us from leading and inspiring future generations of women. I am a proud mother of a boy and a girl, and I want them to know what women can achieve with hard work, dedication, determination, and belief that women can achieve anything that we set our minds on.

On behalf of UNDP and my excellent team present here, we are committed to provide the best capacity and training programs needed to inspire political commitment, advocate for legal and policy frameworks to be put in place, that will provide equitable and equal access for women in public life. Like you, we believe that women need to be in leadership positions for real change to happen. 

Gender equality and women’s empowerment lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which asserts gender equality as both a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls for ensuring full participation of women in leadership and decision-making at all levels, moving from politics and public life to decision-making and leadership in economic areas.   

Throughout this programme that started 2 years ago, we continue to have inspiring participants who have shown commitment to tackling barriers, and changing the male-dominated political status quo, and will no doubt bring about great transformations.  I am happy to note that in this program, we have 36 inspiring women leaders joining from across the Maldives including 7 women living with disabilities. The fact that more women such as yourselves are joining initiatives such as this, is extremely positive and an indication of our commitment to leave no one and no island behind.  

So, a huge congratulations to all the participants of this Practice Parliament for Women programme. I am humbled and am extremely honoured to be here with such an inspiring audience of women.  

I would like to thank the People’s Majlis for your leadership and commitment to the Practice Parliament series.  As always, our gratitude and thanks go out to the Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for your continued support to our efforts to empower women and work towards gender equality.  

I am hopeful that our work today will help us increase women’s participation in the political and public spheres, and further democratic governance in the country.  

Thank you and Shukriya.