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An Alternative view point: The Most Influential Women in the Maldives.
By Fathimath Rasheedha, Wednesday 25th August 2004 - All comments regarding the Alternative view point series should be directed to the writer.
At a time when the role of women and their contribution to society has become a hot public debate, it is only worthwhile to list the most influential women in our society today. Our country has seen many great women leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors and volunteer activists. There is no doubt Rehendi Khajeeda would top the list for the most influential women in our history.
My attempt here though is to draw up a list of the 15 most influential women living in our society today. This task was far complex and difficult that I had initially envisaged. There are a significant number of women who contribute immensely to politics, health, education and social services of our country. So to list the top 15 was a very difficult undertaking indeed.
The initial list that I drew up was rather long. It included many women who commands great respect in their professions and in the various wards in Male' and outer Islands. The easiest part of this task was to identify the most influential woman in our country today and I have no doubt all readers will agree with my choice. The most difficult part was to decide who will not be in the top 15. I had to leave out many significant women who are well known and respected for their enduring work in their chosen professions. The women who narrowly missed from the top 15 serve our communities through NGO's, aid agencies, teaching, businesses and health care activities.
The ultimate decision on whether a woman was going to be in the top 15 depended on one criterion only. And that is the amount of influence she has on the society (political, economical or social) either through her own achievements / positions or through her association with other people / agencies.
So the 15 most influential women in the Maldives are:
1. Nasreena Ibrahim - First Lady
As the first lady Madam Ibrahim has considerable influence on her husband's political agenda. She is also the founder of SHE, a well respected NGO which has done much to the health education of women in general and the well being of Thalassemia kids in the country in particular. She is highly respected by many ordinary people for her tireless work at SHE but is also feared by most politicians and business men due to her influence on the governance of the country.
2. Dunya Maumoon - Daughter of the President and the resident representative of UNFPA in the Maldives
Ms Maumoon is the eldest of the president's twin daughters and is believed to advice her father on major government policies. As the head of UNFPA in Maldives, she has a lot of influence and authority on the role the United Nations plays in the development of our country. Ms Maumoon is regarded as an honest hard working professional. Many political commentators believe she may become the first woman prime minister of our country.
3. Hon. Aneesa Ahmed - Minister for Gender Development
She has a distinguished record as a civil servant and is the only woman in the present cabinet. She is said to use her position in the cabinet forcefully and successfully for the advancement of Maldivian women. She is also an elected MP.
4. Dr. Naila Firdous - Co-founder, SHE
Dr. Firdous is a social worker, medical doctor and an artist. She is one of the three co-founders of SHE and is one of the closest friends of the first lady. She has contributed immensely to the awareness and well being of women and Thalassemia kids in the country. She is highly respected but also feared among the most senior staff at IGMH.
5. Fathimath Sheereen - Deputy Minister, Min of Atolls Development.
She is also the wife of the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and an elected MP. As the Deputy Minister for Atolls Development, she exercises considerable power on the people and governance of island communities in the country.
6. Khadeeja Hassan - Executive Director, Maldives Monetary Authority.
As the head of the Maldives central bank, Mrs Hassan has executive authority on the total control and distribution of foreign currency in our country. She also owns a resort island and is a very close family friend of the president and the first lady. Mrs Hassan is also an active volunteer at SHE and her daughter is the senior partner of the presidents' son in law's law firm.
7. Dr Fathin Hameed - Assistant Director General, Fisheries Ministry
She was recently appointed as the Chairperson of the Maldives Contracting Company Limited making her the first and only woman to head a State Company. Dr Hameed is the daughter of the powerful Speaker of Parliament and niece of the president. She is part of the ruling family but is seen to have an independent social agenda. She is also an appointed MP to the parliament by her uncle, the president. Interestingly enough, she was one of the signatories to register MDP which the government has now declared as an illegal movement.
8. Aminath Mohamed Didi Assistant Director General, Dept of External Resources
As the head of the Department of External Resources of the Foreign Ministry, Ms Didi is instrumental in seeking external aid for the development of our country. As a single mother she has demonstrated high moral and family values for Maldivian women. Ms Didi is an appointed MP and also sits in the powerful Scholarship Board of the country.
9. Rashida Ali - Secretary General, Maldives Human Rights Commission
As the secretary general of the Maldives HRC, Mrs Ali has considerable authority and influence on the direction the Maldives HRC is taking and will take in future. Mrs Ali is an efficient administrator and a strong believer of individual rights who is regarded by her male colleagues as a hard headed woman. Mrs Ali is also a founder member of FASHAN, an NGO working for the advancement of women in our country. She is also a member of the powerful Scholarship Board. Mrs Ali's husband was recently elected to the Special Majlis representing Male'.
10. Dr Aishath Shiham - Director, Children's Unit
She heads the controversial Children's Unit at the Gender Ministry. Well educated and good mannered, Dr Shiham is envied by fellow female colleagues for her successful career in civil service. She was the former Chairperson of SHE and sits in SHE's executive board. She is said to be very close to the first lady. Dr Shiham is also an appointed member of the Board of Directors of DHIRAAGU. She is married into the powerful Koli family. Dr Shiham is a strong candidate for a cabinet portfolio come next reshuffle.
11. Fathimath Amira Principal, CHSE
Mrs Amira has headed the country's first upper secondary school for a number of years. Trained initially as a biology teacher she has contributed enormously to the education system of our country. Mrs Amira is married to the Chief of Staff of NSS.
12. Zahiya Zareer - Director General, EDC
A well respected teacher and educationalist, Mrs Zareer heads the powerful curriculum department of the Education Ministry. She comes from the powerful Jameel family. Her late father was a minister in the former government and her uncle is the current foreign Minister. Mrs Zareer contested for the Male' constituency in the last parliamentary elections on a women's ticket but lost. However, she was appointed by the president as one of his MP's. Her Mother was a powerful politician of her time and also sat in the parliament.
13. Haseena Moosa - Atoll Chief, Felidhoo Atoll
She is the first and only woman Atoll Chief in the country. She has served in the administration of her island and atoll for many years and is widely respected for her position. As the Atoll Chief she has significant influence and authority on the decisions that affect all aspects of life of the Felidhoo Atoll people.
14. "Shery" Shaira - Business Woman & Founder of SHERRY
Ms Shaira is one if not the most successful business woman in the country today. She provides Maldivian women with an opportunity and reason to look good while giving hope and inspiration to several young women to be independent and to venture into their own businesses. She recently won a SAARC business award for women entrepreneurs in South Asia region.
15. Fathimath Mohamed Solih - Assistant Director, President's Office
Ms Solih is one of the very few people at the Presidents Office who is authorised to enter the president's executive office without an appointment. She heads the Presidential Protocol and the Cabinet Secretariat at the Presidents Office.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004