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MALE’, Maldives (11 August 2020): High Commissioner of Australia to Maldives, HE David Holly and Country Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Maldives, Ms. Ritsu Nacken, signed a grant agreement of USD 300,000 to ensure that essential Reproductive Health (RH) and Gender based Violence (GBV) information and services are accessible to women and girls during the pandemic.

This new funding will strengthen the Government’s response to ensure essential Reproductive Health (RH) and GBV services are accessible to women and girls in the context of COVID-19. It will support the operationalization of two RH centres in Male’ and Haa Dhaal atoll to provide a holistic one stop platform to access services, build capacity of service providers to support GBV survivors, undertake advocacy and procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for RH facilities across the country.

At the ceremony held in Colombo, Australian High Commissioner David Holly expressed his support for the initiative “Australia is pleased to support UNFPA to provide services to women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic in Maldives. Globally, experience shows that domestic, sexual and gender based violence increases during crises and disasters. It is important that support services for women and girls in Maldives can now continue during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Ms. Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Country Director highlighted “In the COVID-19 response, we must recognize the gender differentiated impact of the pandemic. The needs of women and girls are often neglected in emergency settings. UNFPA continues to support the most vulnerable women and girls, whose protection and health needs must be at the center of response efforts to ensure no one is left behind.”

There is a need to ensure the continued provision of life-saving sexual and reproductive health services. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the progress made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. The crisis has disproportionately affected women and girls placing them at greater health, social and economic risks due to existing inequalities, socio-cultural beliefs, and unequal power relations. In Maldives, the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections has caused additional strain on other support services delivered by the health system, and additionally, increased GBV has been triggered by the lockdown as women and girls are placed in vulnerable situations.

As the lead UN Agency in advocating for universal sexual and reproductive health and prevention and response to sexual and gender based violence, UNFPA works to achieve three transformative results: zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls by 2030. UNFPA has been working with its partners to accelerate this effort during the pandemic.

Australia’s support to UNFPA forms part of an AUD 630,000 package of support from Australia to Maldives to prepare for, respond to, and recover from COVID-19. As Indian Ocean neighbours, Australia and Maldives share a long-standing and growing bilateral relationship. In the unprecedented global crisis unfolding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that friends continue to support each other.



For more information

United Nations Population Fund 

Tel: (960) 3316940, Fax: (960) 3317936