The Honourable Eva Abdulla, Member of Parliament, and the Honourable Ali Azim, Member of Parliament, participated in the fifty-fifth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and in the corresponding event organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in conjunction with UN Women, the latter of which was themed The Role of Parliaments in promoting access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology.

The Honourable Eva Abdulla delivered a statement on Thursday, February 24, to the Commission held in New York. She highlighted the centrality of gender equality and elimination of violence against women to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and detailed the efforts of the Maldives to address violence against women along with some of the institutional and policy constraints to implementation.

The Honourable Ms. Abdulla also mentioned that the Maldives holds the second-highest rank in the South Asian UN gender-related development index, but stressed the significant practical barriers to achieving full equality. In particular, even though institutional discrimination does not officially exist, the stereotyping of women's' roles in society to household management, the dominance of men in employment in the tourism and construction sectors, and most importantly, the low level of women in decision-making, cause particular adversity.

In light of these issues, she emphasized the need for a concerted effort to empower and enable women's involvement and engagement in leadership and decision-making, and stated the Maldives' eagerness to work with UN Women to achieve these goals.

The fifty-fifth session of the Commission for the Status of Women is ongoing at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The session began on Tuesday, February 22 and will continue until Friday, March 4, 2011, with the priority theme of Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work.