'Rehendhi Awards aims to empower women to play key roles in development'

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that the purpose of the Rehendhi Awards is to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of women in the Maldives and to empower more women to play key roles in national development. He made this statement while speaking at the official ceremony to confer the Rehendhi Awards 2020-2021. Additionally, the Rehendhi Awards also endeavour to recognise the work of organisations and individuals striving to break barriers against gender equality, he said.

Speaking during the ceremony held Monday night at Rehendhi School in Hulhumalé City, President Solih acknowledged that the Rehendhi Awards, while being an annual award, was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to note that a large number of women had taken part in the efforts to safeguard the nation from COVID-19, with several women spearheading the recovery efforts and vaccination drives. He highlighted the work of the Director-General of Public Health, Maimoona Aboobakuru, and Dr Nazla Rafeeq and Dr Nazla Musthafa, stating that there are numerous other women who had played prominent parts in the efforts, and that we must show our appreciation and gratitude for their diligence.

President Solih stated that the government had always aimed to promote gender equality in all areas, including the social and political arena. He highlighted his government’s amendments to the Decentralisation Act, which mandated one-third of each council to be female councillors and the establishment of a Women's Development Committee with 5 members elected from each island. The President noted the success of the endeavour, stating that 39.5 per cent of elected councillors were female, allowing women to have a strong impact on decisions that affect their lives, livelihoods and local communities. Women are already playing the most significant role in national development, he said, as women make up some 78 per cent of the education sector in the Maldives.

However, President Solih noted, the participation of women in national development and representation in all sectors has room for improvement. He acknowledged that there were still some barriers and difficulties hindering women from enjoying the same opportunities and benefits, not just in the Maldives, but worldwide as well. He expressed his confidence that as more women are empowered to play major roles in society, the Maldives can move forward towards a fully impartial and unbiased nation with equal rights and participation from men and women.

President Solih ended his statement with a prayer to Almighty Allah to bring strength and courage to all women in the Maldives, and to make our nation a safe and peaceful environment for all women.