Government proposes abolishing Women’s Development Committees

The government’s proposal for amendments to the Decentralisation Act include abolishing Women’s Development Committees in the islands.

The amendment requires the councils to abolish the committees and to form four new advisory committees – a Women’s Development Advisory Committee, an Economic Committee, a Development Advisory Committee, and an Environment Protection Advisory Committee – that would advise island councils.

According to the amendment, the funds and assets of the existing Women’s Development Committees will be transferred to the council, and will only be permitted for use after consulting with the Women’s Development Advisory Committee.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik said that the parliamentary group had not yet reviewed the amendments.

Introduced by former President Nasheed in 2010, the Decentralisation Act created Women’s Development Committees for the purpose of generating income for the development of local women, working to increase religious awareness, and to improve the health, education, and political participation of women.

Following its observation of this month’s Majlis elections, the EU Election Observation Mission noted an “extremely low numbers of female candidates,” with a total of 23 women standing – just 5 of whom were elected.

The report noted that this, along with the low voter turn out for women, was in part down to “prevailing and increasing social and cultural norms which disempower women, confining them to the domestic sphere.”

Similarly, the World Economic Forum’s 2013 gender gap index noted that the Maldives had fallen behind in both economic and political gender equality – ranking 97 out of 136 countries ranked.

In the same amendment bill – given its first reading last week – MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur, who submitted the bill on behalf of the government in December also proposed cutting the monthly salaries for all council members except for the president vice president of the council in the islands – instead, paying an allowance for each meeting attended.

The current act ensures that five council members must be elected for every island with less than 3000 people, while islands with more than 3000 people are entitled to seven councillors.

The presidents of island councils currently receive a monthly salary and allowance of MVR15,000 (US$973) while council members receive MVR11,000 (US$713). The mayor of Malé is paid MVR45,000 (US$2,918) a month.

Under article 25 of the Decentralisation Act, a five-member council is elected in islands with a population of less than 3,000, a seven-member council for islands with a population between 3,000 and 10,000, and a nine-member council for islands with a population of more than 10,000.

Since assuming power last November, President Abdulla Yameen’s government has made clear its intention to reduce the size of local government in order to reduce the state’s recurrent expenditure – which accounts for over 70 percent of the budget.

In December, the World Bank warned in a report that the Maldivian economy was at risk due to excessive government spending.

The current model of more than 1,000 elected councillors approved in 2010 by the then-opposition majority parliament was branded “economic sabotage” by the MDP government, which had proposed limiting the number of councillors to “no more than 220.”

The new layer of government introduced with the first local council elections in February 2011 cost the state US$12 million a year with a wage bill of US$220,000 a month.


7 thoughts on “Government proposes abolishing Women’s Development Committees”

  1. Women's Development Committees as it is represent all women of the island. An advisory committee does not. It would only make alienation of the those in rule (the advisory committee) and the rest. However, Women's Development Commitee has been very vulnerable. I went to one of the most populated and famous island in the north. The island council (largely controlled by one political party) refused to give the chance for Womens Development Commitee to even use the meeting room for a meeting. We had to meet them in a cafe over dimlight (maldivian cafes also have a funny culture of keeping very dim light). I could hardly see the writing in any document. This is the so called developed island, which had no respect for its Women's Development committee.

  2. Women's development? Shouldn't they just stay at home and have babies, cook and clean? What more do they need? Once they learn to read and write, it's all down hill from there.

  3. Hey . Look at the GCE A level and O level results. No we have similar results in both genders and even in top achievers included both genders.

    This is not Afghanisthan as some MDP hardcore Nasheed believers tries to portray.

    We have equal rights to for women and we have equal rights for the girls and boys to attend the school.

    If you look at the numbers, you will see there is no restriction for the girls to go schools .

    Its hard to believe that Nasheed and his Gangs are trying to so hard to make Maldives look like countries like Pakistan. But they will not succeed and world will know it is not the case here in Maldives.

    Nasheed and his Gangs will find it difficult to digest that the Government is trying to reduce its expenses and trying to increase revenue and manage the country more professionally .

    Nasheed will realize this after few years when we have a positive cash-flow and when debts goes down.

  4. Dear Hero!!

    You seriously need to go have a chat with our beloved Heroine, Madam Aneesa!! She would explain to you about equal rights to women and difference between equality and equity!
    Don't try to be so narrow and think only in one track equating girls right to primary and secondary education as a solution to all the gender discrimination that is on going in Maldives.

  5. Dear HERO

    It is Nasheed and his gang,not Nasheed and his gangs and I will correct your information that this country is no different from afganistan or Pakistan

  6. Aneesa,you can only feel sorry for morons like hero,who believes that just because girls here do olevel and Alevel that is the crowning achievement for the Maldivian ladies

  7. Maldivian women are doing ok. In 2023 we will have a female president. We had queens in the past, right!!


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