Maldivian men deny that there is much discrimination between men and women in the Maldives. Few men believe there are obstacles to local women in certain fields. These statements usually come from men who are in positions that can help to alleviate the challenges faced by the Maldivian women.
The political arena - men's turf!
Although the number of educated Maldivian women graduating from colleges are increasing day by day, the political arena is still largely dominated by men. It would still be a long while before women can come close o the men's dominion in this field.
The opinions of people differ on this matter - this is the largest contradiction that occurs when debating on the issue of women's rights. According to one group, women lag behind men in politics. Few women have been able to able to beat the odds and be successful in the political world, without the help or a "push" from an influential, wealthy family backing them.
While men have an apparent head start in the political race, statistics back the fact that men reign over politics in the Maldives.
Let's take a look at the 18th parliament. In the current parliament that is nearing the end of its term, only 6.5% is occupied by women. The biggest concern with this number is that it is not an improvement from the percentage occupied by women in the past parliaments. Although Maldives is more developed than neighboring nations in the economic and social sector, Maldives continues to lag behind in electing women to the parliament.
While the whole nation is getting ready to elect 87 members for the 19th parliament, there is not much hope that the next parliament could be any better than the current parliament in terms of number of women elected.
"If you don't contest, you won't be elected"
According to the numbers released by the Elections Commission, only 37 women are contesting in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for April. This is as opposed 370 men.
During the 2014 elections, 23 women and 292 men contested in the election, which saw 5 females and 80 men elected.
21 women contested for the 2009 elections while 451 men challenged the seats. five women and 52 men were elected then.
According to the above statistics, although the number of candidates contesting in the election as increased term by term, the number is still insignificant when compared to the number of men running in the same election. While a "record" number of women prepares to contest the 19th parliamentary election, it is highly unlikely that the number of women elected to the parliament would exceed 6%.
Now let's take a look at the number of women who are voting.
While 93,898 women voted along with 95,744 men for the 18th parliament, 109,493 women and 103,066 men voted for the 17th parliament.
Men and women compete closely in terms of population. While the most recent statistics reveal that women make up 50% of the population, the reasons why such a less number of women compete and secure parliament seats have to be researched.
Not enough work is being done to identify the reason why more women are not contesting for the parliament to make their voices heard, While the number of educated, eligible women in Maldives increase day by day, there should be a reason why these women are hesitant to grace the floors where the biggest decisions regarding the country's future are being made.
It is a presidential pledge of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to allocate a minimum quota of parliament seats for women in a bid to overcome this gaping difference in the ratio of male and female lawmakers, This is the same tactic followed by several other countries to increase the participation of women for electoral positions. However, there are still huge philosophical differences when it comes to the general system used.
However, one thing is clear from this debate. The truth we all have to acknowledge is the fact that while the population ratio of men and women in the Maldives is nearly equal, it is wrong that only one group of people are being heard, it is wrong that all decisions are based upon the mindset of this group only. It is an emptiness that is caused for the whole nation. It is a setback to effectively solving the increasing number of economic and social issues in the country.