US awards Aneesa Ahmed ‘International Woman of Courage’ award

Former Minister of Gender and Family Aneesa Ahmed has become the second Maldivian woman to win the prestigious ‘International Women of Courage Award’ presented by the US Secretary of State to honor the courage of extraordinary women worldwide who have played transformative roles in their societies.

Since the establishment of the award in 2007 by the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 46 women from 34 different countries – including Former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party MDP Chairperson and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi – have been honored for the exceptional courage and leadership shown in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.

According to the state department’s website entry on the 2012 winners, Aneesa is recognised for being a ‘staunch advocate for ending gender-based violence (GBV) in the Maldives’.

The statement on Aneesa read; “While serving as Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, she raised the issue of domestic violence at a time when the subject was taboo. After leaving the government, she founded the NGO Hope for Women and began conducting sessions on GBV with students, Maldives Police Services, and other front line workers”.

The department had further noted her courage for speaking out against female genital mutilation after some religious scholars identified it as a practice supported by Islam on national radio last year. The statement added; “By openly discussing issues like these and promoting awareness through her NGO, Ms. Ahmed plays a key role in bringing these issues into public discourse and pressing the government to take action.”

Minivan News could not reach Aneesa at the time of press as she is currently in the US to attend the Awarding ceremony due to take place on Thursday night, 9:00pm local time.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host ceremony with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama while other dignitaries include the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, both 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

2007 award recipient Mariya Ahmed Didi said she was “thrilled that a Maldivian woman has been awarded the US Secretary of State International Woman of Courage for the second time.”

“As a nurse and midwife [Aneesa] was known to be committed and kind to her patients. As a Deputy Minister and subsequently the Minister for Gender she was committed to furthering the rights of women. As a parliamentarian and as the leader of the DRP’s Parliamentary Group she had foresight and understanding that kept the group together. As a person committed to [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom, there is none second to Aneesa.”

International Women’s Day comes in the Maldives following a week in which water cannon was used to disperse a women’s sit down protest outside the President’s Office, and in which Amnesty International condemned abrutal security forces crackdown on a group of 20 female MDP supporters in Addu Atoll. One woman who was beaten repeatedly on the breast by an MNDF officer told Amnesty that they were repeatedly shouting they would see to it that she “would never breast feed again.”

Mariya observed that “the way Maldivian women had come out to protest against the brutality of the Waheed regime has shown that all Maldivian women are ‘women of courage’. They are resilient and determined to not allow their sons and daughters to die in Maldivian jails, as was seen in the 30 year rule of the Gayoom dictatorship. The 30 days of Vice President Waheed’s rule has shown Maldivians that authoritarian rule is here and very much to stay.”

Woman face ongoing challenges

As the International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 with the UN theme for 2012 “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty – the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has highlighted the under-representation of women in the remote islands of the Maldives.

In a statement released on Thursday the commission expressed its concern over the “alarming level” of discrimination rural women face worldwide ” and added that it is “upsetting that the situation in Maldives is similar”

“The upsetting thing is that several counties still does not recognize the importance of women’s participation in the decision making process.” The statement further reads, “On the Maldivian islands significant work has been done by women, yet it is seen as an obligation and thus does not receive the appreciation and the recognition they deserve. However, because of their society benefits so much,” HRCM statement said.

Meanwhile, Maldives is yet to achieve gender quality goal of the Millenium Development Goals.

“Gender disparity exists in secondary and tertiary education as well as in labour force participation and the national parliament,” according to the UN Maldives fact sheet on MDG’s.

Currently, five out of the 77 MP’s are women while the representation in the elected councils are significantly low.

In an earlier interview with Minivan News, following Aneesa’s decision to retire from her political career and parliament in 2009, she observed the challenges for women in entering politics in Maldives.

“There are many restrictions on women candidates. For instance financial support, especially these days when there is so much of money politicking. Women don’t have that the wealth so they need to be supported, financially supported and also their families will have to give them support. Unless they have an understanding and supportive husband, it’s going to be difficult,” Aneesa explained.

“And then again the whole attitude, the mindset of people will need to be changed. We still have the majority of the people with the mindset that women cant perform in public in the same way as men and women dont have the intelligence or the capacity to be members of parliament or public figures,” she further added.

Meanwhile, the importance of working forward in eliminating the gender based violence has also been recognised by the stakeholders who identify it as one the biggest challenges the Maldivian women today face.

According to the Gender Department’s statistics, one in three women between the age 15-49 in the Maldives have suffered from abuse – mostly from partners or within the family.

Both women rights NGOs and the UN have stressed on several occassions to pass the Anti-Domestic Violence Bill, which has been stalled in the parliament for over a year now.


42 thoughts on “US awards Aneesa Ahmed ‘International Woman of Courage’ award”

  1. Female rights are a load of crockery!

    Rights are sophisticated legal constructs well beyond the comprehension of the frivolous creature known as the female. I think it is cruel and degrading to play with their minds by confusing and tempting them with these concepts. It will only lead to corruption!

    Let them lead simple lives, as bearers and nurturers of children; the role that God himself has ordained for them.

    He who allows his daughter, wife or mother to vote is no friend of mine! That man must be garrotted on the spot!

  2. With the new constitution, democracy, feminism women of Maldives are more empowerd than ever. However with great power comes great responsibilities.

    Are women using their power positively for development or just to keep blaming men.

  3. USofA you are damn fools. You will be satisfied now that Gayoom is back in power will you not!

  4. @dhivehi hanguraama:

    i do agree that women as wives and mother do have certain responsibilities. they are responsible for looking after their families, and the man is responsible for providing the family with financial security. call me old fashioned if you will.

    but all the more reason why women should have their say!!! dont you think?

    in all seriousness, your comment was a joke right?

  5. I wonder what Aneesa thought of hosing down of maldivian women near the President's office while they were holding a peaceful protest.

  6. @Maldivian Woman

    "i do agree that women as wives and mother do have certain responsibilities. they are responsible for looking after their families, and the man is responsible for providing the family with financial security. call me old fashioned if you will."

    The Ayatullah Khomeini, may his name ever be praised, teaches us that to send a woman to the Majlis is no better than prostitution:

    "Is progress achieved by sending women to the majlis? Sending women to these centers is nothing but corruption"

  7. Amidst the turmoil at long last something to cheer about. Alhamdulillahi!

    Let’s all work for a better tomorrow. Let’s first and foremost together irrespective of our differences make a stand - that is that we should at all cost avoid VIOLENCE.

    Violence begets violence. Invariably violence is self-propagating. Of course violence in the short term might appear to get you what you so desperately want. However what appears to be achieved by violence and intimidation corrupts the perpetrors and eventually violence crops up again and all is lost.

    Brothers and sisters. Our Motherland needs you today as perhaps never before. Take some time out take your ablutions and say Allah Akbar and start your prayers and pray sincerely. Get close to your prayers. Take benefit from those prayers. Pray sincerely that you be Guided to the straight path.Prayers, your 5 prayers is the gateway to your success ultimately brings you serenity and peace, and wonders of wonders brings peace and harmony to those around you.

    Then;By The Grace of your creator your eyes would open to the great goodness that your brother irrespective of his party colour possesses.

    Know that a Muslims life, his property is sacred and you violate that sanctity at your utter loss. You might get an ego boost when a crowd seems to lap up what you say. But if what you say is going to seed discord and lead to violence, then my brother, my sister you are plotting your own downfall.SO DESIST! More than anything for YOURSELF. Do not sow the seeds of ruin on yourself and your loved ones.

    To those listening to you I have this to say. If you are master of your senses then ... Ask yourself "is what this guy saying NOW going to lead to DISHARMONY and POSSIBLY VIOLENCE AND CHAOS?" then Say NO TO VIOLENCE. SAY "NOT IN MY NAME!"

    Maldives need you today. THE WORLD IS WATCHING. Do not emulate the masters of violence, torture, bloodshed. Instead learn from the Great examples of our great leaders who gave up much and even more to get the message out to you.

    Let’s all call upon people who know (we have so many who know) to remind us - those who know less about those great sons of Islam who showed by following the example of the noble seal of prophets -Pbuh, how to be humble before man and so attain humbleness before our Creator.

    Sisters, to you I say, you are the most valued in our Community. Beneath your feet as mothers lies Paradise. DO NOT THROW IT ALL AWAY.

    Do not be party to inducement to violence. DO NOT LET ANYBODY,ANYBODY USE YOU, YOUR BODY, YOUR BLOOD to bring sorrow on your neighbour and so ultimately yourself.

    Many Politicians sadly are the dirtiest of the dirtiest scum on earth. You recognise this brood from their slick talk. You recognise them by them calling you to go out to put yourself in danger or put someone else in danger. You recognise them by seeing the fruits of their actions – utter strife in the land, danger night after night, discord, violence, blood, loss of limbs and possibly death.


    For now let’s concentrate just on the goodness of your brother/ sister – friend or foe, this party or that. Concentrate on what good you can do. Concentrate on what assistance you can give. Concentrate on smiling at your brother and sister. Concentrate dear brother and sister on being a good human being to another human being.

    That is how you will ultimately Insha Allah be able to recognise your creator and Insha Allah become a Muslim.

    If I have said right then Please pass on the ideas here. This is not the time to stay silent. This is stop MALDIVES BURNING. THIS IS TO RECLAIM MALDIVES FROM THE CLUTCHES OF VIOLENCE, DISHARMONY AND DISUNITY.

    Please ask those fortunate to know to stand up and teach us love, humility, brotherhood, compassion & patience. Please ask them to teach us that we are nothing! That everything is …. LA ILAHA ILLALAHU. MUHAMMADAN RASOOLULLAHI.

  8. this woman surely is a woman of courage as her husband is alleged to have involved in several corruption cases. God knows where her husband got money to build her a castle.she also very courageously stood beside a dictator who ruled the country for 30 years. Such a woman deserves Nobel peace prize too.

  9. aneesa WHO?huh?did we get this right?hee hee!um how how?something's just not right.

  10. @ 11.08 pm.

    I do not think that Dhiv. Hang. Is a troll. Obviously the person has a bone to pick as concerns women in general or women in Islam in particular. Sarcasm, parody and satire are all tools available to a person wishing to educate or repudiate what that person thinks he has understood of a problem.

    Having said that one point of view could be that injustices linger between people when the two are not equal – when one is stronger than the other. From time immemorial women has been perceived to be or has been found to be inferior to men – with respect to physical strength.

    From a historical perspective for man’s well-being and survival what seemed to have counted is brawn rather than brain.
    Thus History is replete with injustices, exploitation and cruelty shown against women.

    The Judeo-Christian interpretation of the Bible in their hands made matters still worst and until the 19th Century the proponents of this interpretation in the White dominated West debated as to whether women had a soul or if she was a mere Chattel and often equated women with witches and the Devil.

    It’s in this historical perspective that Islam’s Last Prophet came as a Blessing, Good news and Mercy unto all Creatures. Thus the Arab society phenomenally cruel to their women (No different to different societies all around the world from North to South, East to West) was taught that Women and Men both had a soul & that they both were equally answerable before God.

    Islam did not need a Rosa Parks or a Women’s Lib movement to win Women’s rights and status – a status that does not find its equal anywhere in the world and we are in 2012 now.

    In my view its parody, satire or intrigue – call it what you may! Misplaced; or do I dare say ignorance misplaced that we bring forward Ayatollah Khomeini when discussing women’s rights in the intended context.

  11. This is salt rubbed to the wounds of those who suffered torture and and gross injustices conducted part of the policy under the administration she so diligently served.

    The West must understand that political differences in Maldives is not between Liberals and Conservatives, Left vs Right. This is a legitimate Democratic political party against Kleptocrats and Plutocrats. This is no difference of opinion to compromise over.

    This woman defended the misogynist regime, was silent in face of misogynist hate speech by her political allies while in opposition. Just her inaction during the beatings and humiliation of women protesters recently negates the value of this award to more deserving recipients.

    This just goes to show the shallow world view of the West, they need dramatic scenes of slaughter on the streets to see human rights violations.

  12. what the hell Maria Didi did to receive this award and why the hell Yellow Fever party never talk about the facts.

    Yellow party is a disease and the virus is affecting our nations and then we are getting sick of these yellows.

  13. she did work for the rights of women, dat much is true. she was like one of those guys who remained in the hitler regime and protected jews. she was in gayoom regime, yes. but if she wasnt things could have been worse for women, especially considering that al azhar brainwashed mullahs were in charged and their buddies from saudi oil arabia were religious advisers. a alot did go bad for women during these 30 years, but ppl like aneesaa did control the damages to some extent. then again, this is not the right time for that award. she have no problem at all when the victims are women fighting for a cause that she is against. when they are in the "wrong party". not a woman of courage after all?

  14. @peasant: Yes so much paradox, and I am so often ashamed of being a Westerner for the reasons you have pointed out. I hope by the Grace of God I can be less superficial than my fellow Westerners.

  15. Aneheneh vias firiheneh vias qaanoon aai qawaaidh ah huras alhaakamah vejjeyyaa thalhaafa ves jeheynee hamayah alhuvan. OK JJ? oh...anyways JJ can understand Dhivehi now.

  16. Not a role model for Maldivian women! As a recipient of this award let's see if she is willing and able to stand up to the atrocities conducted against women by the MPS!

  17. @Mode: Mariya was the first woman to receive this award from Maldives. That was in 2007. She doesn't deserve it any more than Aneesa does.

    @Genocidal Maniac: "she was like one of those guys who remained in the hitler regime and protected jews." You must be from a unique planet as Hassan Saeedh. If she any where near protecting jews, then she would have remained in the nursing service. She slithered her way up with every man in Foreign Ministry and president's office breaking families and her own. If she was protecting Jews against Hitler, beats why she's there hailing Hitler now.

  18. This woman gave morphine injection to those jailed during Nasir's regime. She was a staff nurse working in the Central Hospital. All sorts of injections were given by this woman to get information from those jailed victims. US!!!! Get your information FIRST!!!!!!!
    This woman supported Gayyoom, the Dictator who killed MANY to remain in power for 30 years. US!!! Get your information FIRST!!!!!!!!

  19. Dhivehi Hanguraama is a troll with a vision and mission, best not brush away these comments, as much as it sounds like some misogynistic trip from a fictional comedy movie, this guy might in fact be holding true to what he is saying.

  20. @peasant

    True, how true, they had to give that award to some women from some country enie mine minie or thats her, no true researched into her true backgrounds, true she is a Politician first not a true Human Rights activist.


    How substantial is your claims, those are heavy accusations

  21. Congrats Aneesa, you should have got this award long times ago. You deserved it more than Mariya Didi.

  22. Consider that the Americans are out of the heat of our politics and thus they might be relatively unbiased and so might actually be more in a position to decide if the lady merits the award. They rarely get their home-work wrong. It warms my heart that 2 ladies from our midst got these awards. Super!

    @ Ben
    Peace be with you! I’m glad I was able to read what you wrote in June. It did me wonders reading what you wrote and all those comments by the other brothers. I marvelled at how prophetic you were in that post. Not only you but others that posted too. I appreciate how sentiments such as compassion, love, humility must move you. It’s a Gift that such hues of life could resonate in us. Much to say Alhamdulilahi! Here.

    Another thing that struck me was the bravery that was required of you and your wife and 2 little ones to brave on. How wonderful is our Lord of Lords that we are endowed with what it takes to weather the storms that we are so often sometimes are tested to face. :-)) Peace! Be assured that many of us pray for you. Please pray for us too, and that our Leaders are endowed with compassion, Love and Humility. Thank-you!

    Did you enjoy reading Rumi? The Darqawi way too will bring you much peace. May Allah Bless you n your family and us all.

  23. I know Maria but who the hell is this Aneesa?

    I haven't seen her in the headlines, or heard about doing anything productive for the people, I don't pay much attention to politicians (who talk the talk but stumble and break when they walk the talk). I know them because I make it my mission to know them. But this person I do not know nor ever heard of. Where does the US get their information from anyway. US trying to be involved in the Maldives but messing that up, much?

  24. Must say the lady did work for the rights of children. HOWEVER, she's the left nahd of the dictator Gayyoom. She sure had and still have courage to come out in the open to support the traitor Gayyom. SHIT!

  25. @Ahmad on Fri, 9th Mar 2012 9:46 PM

    "Consider that the Americans are out of the heat of our politics and thus they might be relatively unbiased and so might actually be more in a position to decide if the lady merits the award"

    This is a common misconception and I respectfully disagree with you. The Americans, like the Indians do their research all right, but their world view will always reflect their interests not necessary ours. The American and Indian priority will be to prevent a "failed state", which harbour extremist groups and create a possible humanitarian disaster. They will also avoid taking sides in a coup as the outcome is always in doubt, it doesn't matter democrats or kleptocrats, they will want their influence whichever side succeeds in consolidating their power.

    Aneesa Ahmed merits praise for her work, as does the wife of Mr Gayoom, who was a patron of SHE, one of the most successful NGOs which helped numerous Maldivian families and society in general in areas such as reproductive health, family planning, prevention and management of Thalessemia. Gasim Ibrahim, an instigator of the coup attempt (I say attempt, as the coup leaders still struggle to establish legitimacy) was a charitable person to people close to him and did a lot for many especially in Maamigili; this however does not make him a benevolent person deserving the Nobel Peace prize.

  26. Iran is Shiya Muslim country..Meaning they are not believers of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).... 'Dhivehi hanguraama' praised a Shiya Muslim leader, AyaTullah Khomeini......What does that mean??

  27. Dear Lubna
    Is this Aneesa, the ex-wife of Anbaree Abdul Sattar who is responsible for the bankruptcy of Air Maldives? I wonder what this woman did for the rights of Maldivian woman... The US must be blind to award this woman 'International Woman of courage' The woman does'nt desreve it...

  28. US Embassy! I am a citizen of Maldives and I am disgusted that US decided to give this award to a dictator supporter who killed MANY to remain in power! US should select somebody who supports democracy. Besides, this woman has almost done NOTHING to develop woman's rights.

    I am writing a letter to the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka. I want to ask for an appointment with the Ambassador and tell her what these people like Blake are doing!

  29. Well done Aneesa Ahmed, congratulations and a big hug to you.
    You have your work cut out in the Maldives.....a 100% sunni muslim country....with many islamist lunatics like Dhivehi Hangyourself.....good luck.

  30. MN, where are my two previous comments posted regarding this news? why didn't you post them? You still call yourselves independent news. Shame.

  31. @ Niyasa: US Ambassador is not made to meet a psycho like you. Plus the state department doesn't have their brains in their farfalla like you do. They select people for these awards after studyign them well. Aneesa and the other nine winners were selected from over 80 nominees from around the globe. So this means they know what they are doing. Shut your trap and stay quiet. Atleast Aneesa did more to women of this country than Mariya Didi. Why didn't you raise your fat voice then against Mariya. Don't be biased and hypocritic. Do reserch well before barking. It was Aneesa who introduced in this country laws to protect women from domestic violence. It was she who started defending women who were divorced and made the government give them more rights and power. So learn to be pleased and thank people for once in your miserable crap life.

  32. @Simple and honest

    The infidel dares call someone of Khomeini calibre, may his name ever be praised, an infidel!? What irony.

    Without Khomeini, Iran would be a secular state, and their women would be strutting around, neglecting their houses and husbands, while fornicating with goats, as in common in the West and in India!

    Without Khomeini, Iran would still be supporting Israel, and our Palestinians brothers would be left without hope.

    Without Khomeini, the Mujahiddeen of our era, would never have found the courage to rise up against their secular overlords. Political Islam was unheard of before 1979.

    Do not speak of things beyond your comprehension, child!

    You fool! You should be garrotted on the spot!

  33. "Former Minister of Gender and Family Aneesa Ahmed has become the second Maldivian woman to win the prestigious ‘International Women of Courage Award’ presented by the US Secretary of State to honor the courage of extraordinary women worldwide who have played transformative roles in their societies."

    I am sure the State Department would have not known about how much the children of this "courageous woman" suffered and what effect it had on them without being cared all the while she went "up the stairs" to get this!

    Would anyone believe that a son of a "courageous mother" studying abroad, coming home on vacation and not being met at the airport or not seeing his mother for over 3 days!!!!!

  34. I see no reason for a Masculine woman to get an award for fighting on the grounds of gender. If a feminine woman was doing the fighting, I'd laud her.

  35. Yasir!!! The State Department does not have any information about her given morphine injections to Villingili Jail mates. I have documents Aneesa signed. They were all destroyed by Maumoon. Maumoon brought her to his office while she was a Nurse!! She worked some one year in the Foreign Ministry before being brought to the President's Office. Who gave these job to her??? She was only a Nurse!! But to work as Presidential Aide in Maumoon's Office???? What can you think of this??? Would't her anti-human records be erased????
    Don't be personal Yasir. Truth hurts.


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