Eliminating gender inequalities is essential for the nation to benefit from women’s contribution to economic development and progress, President Mohamed Nasheed said in his weekly radio address on Friday.
Speaking on the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,’ Nasheed expressed gratitude and encouragement for the campaign against domestic violence launched by a gender advocacy working group under the slogan ‘Thinakun Ekeh’ (one in three).
The slogan refers to the findings of a Ministry of Gender and Family study in 2007, the first comprehensive nationwide survey of domestic violence in the Maldives, which revealed that one in every three women between the ages of 15-49 has been a victim of domestic violence.
“Although it is believed that the status of women in our society is better in comparison to other SAARC nations, active participation of women in important sectors in the country is comparatively low,” Nasheed observed. “For example, while 24 percent of women are unemployed in the Maldives, that figure is eight percent in Sri Lanka. Out of all SAARC countries, the Maldives is at the bottom in this respect.”
While women make up 28 percent of the Afghanistan parliament, Nasheed noted that women represented just seven percent, or five out of 77 MPs, in the Maldivian parliament.
“The most important facility for a country’s development is its people,” he said. “And since women are half of the population in any country, for a certainty their full participation will speed up the pace of development.”
The President noted that legislation on domestic violence was submitted to parliament in October 2010 and sent to committee in November, urging MPs to “pass the bill as soon as possible.”
Compassion and care from others is important to give women the courage to “surmount obstacles and escape the different forms of violence they face,” said Nasheed, recognising the activities of NGOs and women’s rights advocates.
Meanwhile, the Thinakun Ekeh gender advocacy group organised events on Friday in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to launch a 16-day campaign against domestic violence with programmes to disseminate information of its incidence and raise public awareness.
The gender advocacy group was formed on September 29, 2011 with UNFPA assistance to “work with strategic partners in civil society, media, parliamentarians and religious institutions to pave ways for women and men to work together to find lasting solutions to the society’s most serious social, economic and political problems.”
An information session took place at the artificial beach late Friday afternoon after a run round Male’. Participants included Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz, philanthropist Mohamed Waheed Deen, former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, former Gender Minister Aneesa Ahmed and members of civil society organisations.