Advancement of Women
The Maldives Statement
5 October 2018, New York
Thank you, Mr Chair,
My Delegation wishes to thank the Secretary General for the comprehensive Report that was prepared for this agenda item.
The Maldives has always adopted an integrated approach to advancement of women. Through the promotion of values of gender equality and the creation of opportunities for women, the Maldives is fortunate to have an egalitarian tradition, in which house hold decisions are mostly taken jointly by women and men. The Maldives also did not have a tradition of gender discrimination of any kind; we have always had universal adult suffrage; we have always had maternal and paternal leave, which is now guaranteed by law. No discrimination in school enrolment, no discrimination in employment, and now, girls outperform boys in secondary school graduation as well.
Despite the achievements, the Maldives faces significant challenges in the advancement of women. The number of women in executive positions in both Government and private sector is still very few. And too often, women, occupying senior positions in companies and Government are still required to make a choice between their professional careers, and family.
The Maldives has implemented several policies and programmes to address the challenges. We believe that investment in the future of girls and women are going to reap benefits in the future. A chance for girls and women to realize their true potential, to be treated equally without structural or normative discrimination, and equality before the law.
Through the Employment Act, the Maldives has already taken its steps to ensure that women are guaranteed equal access to employment and equal pay for equal work as men. It also guarantees maternity leave for women and makes it illegal, to use gender or marital status as a basis for terminating employment.
In recent years, the Government has implemented a policy under which at least 30 percent of seats in the Boards State-owned companies would be filled by women. The objective was to ensure that women have an active participation in the decisions of such companies, and thereby ensuring the policies of such companies are more gender friendly.
The Gender Equality Act enacted by the Maldives in the year 2016 has been a pioneering legislation in the country’s history. It creates a legal basis, ensuring equal rights to all, which is also guaranteed by the Maldives Constitution. The Act outlines the role that the Government, business entities, non-governmental organizations and other employers should take to ensure equality and non-discrimination towards women and girls. It also requires the Government and political parties to ensure that equal opportunities exist for women and girls to participate at all levels of political life.
Gender-based violence is a serious problem that women and girls face worldwide. Such violence, like any violence, has long lasting negative impacts on the lives of victims and has major repercussions for their future development.
The Maldives has strict laws and policies as a measure to prevent violence against women and girls. Victims of gender-based discrimination are protected in the face of their perpetrators through laws. As a landmark step to give full protection of the law to women, the Maldives criminalized marital rape in 2014.
The 2030 Agenda recognizes that gender equality is a pre-requisite for progress. As we take steps forward in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, women should be encouraged to reach their full potential with the same opportunities as their gender counterparts. Empowering women will create a generation where everyone is empowered. In this regard, we recognize the need to fast-track efforts in the national and international arena to guarantee that gender equality is achieved everywhere around the world.
I thank you.