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Despite the existence of legal systems promoting gender equality, the Maldives has taken a step backwards in recent years. Harmful social norms, cultural beliefs, conservative voices and the maintenance of patriarchal gender roles in society prevail, as evidenced by harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, early and unregistered marriages, and decreased demand and use of family planning services. While demographic and socioeconomic data is collected through the census and surveys, including household income and expenditure surveys, disaggregated data analysis and data utilization need to be improved for decision-making, evidence-based policies and Sustainable Development Goals monitoring.

One in three women in the Maldives reported violence in their lifetime, and one in four women reported intimate partner violence. At the same time, 26 per cent of women (aged 15 to 49) believe that, under certain circumstances, a partner is justified in beating their wife. The prevalence of female circumcision in the Maldives was first established through the national demographic and health survey (2016), which found that 13 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 had undergone female circumcision. Most concerning is that 8 per cent of female survey respondents believe that female circumcision was a religious requirement, and they would like the practice to continue. UNFPA will support the progressive legislation and action plans enacted by the Government to address gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

What we do

UNFPA continues to coordinate inter-agency efforts to advance gender equality advocacy especially, addressing women’s rights using an alternative narrative in view of socio-cultural opportunities and challenges. We continue to support the progressive legislation and action plans enacted by the Government to address gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

Through the development of comprehensive guidelines in line with the essential service package, UNFPA is supporting the establishment of functional referral mechanisms. Nonetheless, the laws on gender equality are framed on criminalization without the consent or preferences of survivors. As such we aew taking the lead to initiate the dialogue with policy makers, judicial sector and civil society actors to review the international best practices on addressing and preventing violence against women and girls, including evidence informed public health approaches as alternatives to punitive legal sanctions to address gender based violence in Maldives. and a healthcare response to gender-based violence, including in humanitarian situations. We advocate for increased investments and capacity for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and elimination of gender-based violence and harmful practices as per existing legislation, such as the National Gender Equality Act and Domestic Violence Prevention Act, through the generation of evidence and data, and with the cositing of the gender equality action plan and its monitoring framework. 

UNFPA supports community- based interventions to operationalize social and gender norm changes for gender-based- violence prevention strategies - such as with the formation of the Self Help Groups in association with the Maldivian Red Crescent. These interventions will focus on identified social and gender norms to address gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.