Parliament on Monday (June 26) accepted an amendment proposed to the Decentralisation Act by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam to reserve a seat on island councils for the chair of women’s development committees.
The bill was accepted with 38 votes in favour and sent to committee for further review.
During the preliminary debate, most MPs supported the proposal in principle while others argued against affirmative action on the basis of gender.
Elections for women’s development committees to function under island and city councils took place in November 2012 in 102 islands.
Under article 36 of the landmark Decentralisation Act (Dhivehi), the powers and responsibilities of women’s committees are: (a) Advise island council on matters related to island development and municipal services provided by the council; (b) Own properties and conduct business activities with others in the name of the committee; (c) Sue and be sued in the name of the committee; (d) Conduct various activities for income generation and for the development of women; (e) Work to uphold the rights of women; (f) Work to increase religious awareness amongst women; (g) Work to increase political participation of women; (h) Work to increase the numbers of women enrolled in higher education; (i) Work to improve the health condition of women; (j) Gather important information related to women; (k) Manage assets and finance of the committee.