Delivered on 15 September 2017
Delivered by H.E. Dr Hala Hameed, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations in Geneva
Thank you Mr. President,
The Maldives welcomes the theme of this year’s annual discussion; the Universal Periodic Review and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our strong commitment in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the dedicated Goal 5 for Gender Equality; and all UPR recommendations including those pertaining to gender equality.
The Government of Maldives places a high priority in integrating gender equality in national policies. The Gender Equality Act of 2016 enshrines in law, the principle of equal opportunities and equal outcomes, ensuring non-discrimination in employment and encouraging women’s economic empowerment.
Several efforts have been made by the Government to give women an integral role in the society. In 2014, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, made it mandatory for at least 30% of seats on the Board of Directors of state owned enterprises be filled by women, in which, 80% of this target have been met to date. In addition to this, Government launched special lending schemes in 2016, targeted at small and medium enterprises, under which 40% of loans were specifically reserved for youth and women.
An educated and healthy female population helps to bring a cohesive and dynamic inclusive workforce and helps the economy to grow. The Maldives has achieved gender parity in primary and secondary school enrolment with girls comprising over 55% of secondary school graduates and the majority high achievers in recent years have been girls. Further, more women are enrolled at the tertiary education institutes in the Maldives.
The implementation of several legal instruments including, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (2012) the Sexual Harassment and Prevention Act (2014), and the Sexual Offenses Act (2014) have stepped up protection for women from violence and gender based discrimination. Today, the Government not only provides protection for victims, but also conducts regular prevention programs. The Maldives also ratified the Gender Equality Act (2016) and gender sensitization trainings for government organizations and state companies have been conducted. We have also concluded a training of gender trainers programme for officials from government organizations. Further complaints mechanism under the Act has been endorsed and we are in the process of validating the Gender Action Plan.
My delegation would like to emphasize that this is an opportune time to integrate the gender perspective into all the human rights mechanisms, as we have just begun the 3rd Cycle of UPR and have launched the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both initiatives are universal and complementary to each other grounded in protecting and promoting human rights with the cross-cutting theme of gender equality ringing strong. The Maldives remains fully committed to protect and promote the rights of women as gender equality is integral for a healthy society and robust economy essential for national development.