Women’s rights NGO Hope for Women has criticised the altered working hours this Ramadan, stating the decision was made without consideration as to how it would impact women working in public service.
“In the Maldivian society, domestic responsibilities typically fall on women, with added work during the month of Ramadan for the preparation of the meals for the family in time for breaking fast,” said the NGO.
“Therefore, we believe that the decision regarding the Ramadan working hours have been made without giving consideration to how it would impact women working in public service.”
The President’s Office today announced the working hours at government offices for Ramadan and the seven days of Eid al Fitr, which will be from 10am til 2:30pm.
While it is usual for the government to reduce work hours every Ramadan, this year’s timings are one hour later than previous years.
Hope for Women, highlighting recent reports that the number of women working in the civil service is twelve percent more than men, and said that finishing work late would impact women negatively as the domestic responsibility of preparing food for breaking the fast at sunset falls on women in the Maldivian society.
A recent election observation report from an observer mission noted that women continued to face multiple barriers to participation in public life, leading to acute under-representation in the public and political spheres.
The average time for sunset and breaking the fast this Ramadan is at 6:20pm.
Hope for women also suggested the government’s decision was influenced by the late hour football matches of the ongoing World Cup tournament which it claims is causing many government employs to attend work late.
The massive popularity of the tournament has already prompted the government to relax previous opening times for local cafes in order for people to watch the matches, which currently conclude at around 5am.
Speaking to Haveeru, spokesperson to the President Ibrahim Muaz assured the decision has no connection to the World Cup, saying that it had been made to allow people to spend more late hours in worship.
Even if might upset some workers, the government’s decision was made after considering everyone’s convenience.
The Ministry of Education has, meanwhile, reduced school times to three hours during Ramadan.
Single session Schools will hold classes in the morning from 9am until 12pm, while schools with two sessions will hold classes from 8:30am til 11:30am and from 11:45am until 3pm – with an extra 15 minutes for noon prayers.
The ministry has also informed all schools to make arrangements for students to pray at schools and not to conduct any school activity at night in a way which could interfere with religious activities such as obligatory prayers, optional prayers, and religious preaching