Message by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Ms. Dunya Maumoon on the occasion of International Womens Day 8 March 2015

Today, we stand in solidarity with the rest of the world in recognising and honouring the struggles and achievements of women. International Women’s Day is an appropriate occasion to recognise the progress we have made, but also to contemplate more deeply on the gendered nature and scale of inequality that persist in our societies. It is a day where we renew our commitment to intensify our efforts towards the enjoyment of equal rights for men and women both at home and internationally.

This year marks a historic conjunction. Apart from the twentieth anniversary of the review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we are also in the midst of crafting the sustainable development goals for a transformative development agenda. The post-2015 agenda provides an opportunity to build on the legacy of the Millennium Development Goals and to accelerate inclusive sustainable growth for men and women. Women’s empowerment and gender equality will be the cornerstone to achieving a transformative and inclusive development agenda.

The advancement and empowerment of women is a national priority for the Government of Maldives. The Government remains unwavering in its efforts to pass a new Gender Equality law ,which reflects the government’s view that actions and interventions aimed at eradicating gender inequality must be institutionally enforced. The bill aims to mainstream and institutionalise equality for women, safeguard women’s rights from discrimination and eradicate the evil of gender-based violence. The Government has also reiterated its commitment to the efforts to promote and protect the rights of women in all walks of life yet again at the recent Maldives review at 60th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

These legislative changes are profound and progressive. Nonetheless, we must also recognise that advancement and empowerment of women are interlinked to the values being articulated and entrenched within our society. Rigid cultural values and discriminatory social attitudes can have devastating impacts that restrict a girl or woman from realising her true potential. We must teach our children the values of respect and equality, so that as they grow up, the notion that equality is associated with a specific gender cease to exist.

We continue to see profound recognition and awareness of the role women must play for the advancement of societies. We can indeed derive a message of hope and optimism from these changes. Yet our journey to achieve full enjoyment of women’s right is far from complete. We must remain relentless in our pursuit towards the realisation of these rights. Determination must translate into better outcomes. This year’s theme “Make it Happen” encompasses both our conviction and energy to continue our march towards empowerment of women in our society.

In this spirit I urge both men and women to not be just bystanders, but to be partners in our collective pursuit for equality. I urge all women to step up to the frontlines in the movement to “make it happen” for all women.