A silent march planned by the opposition early Thursday morning to mark International Women’s Day was obstructed before it began.
Female leaders, activists and supporters of the joint opposition parties gathered at the Jumhooree Party headquarters to begin the march around 6:45 am. But riot police officers quickly set up barricades to block their path.
The opposition announced plans for the march, dubbed “Walk the Talk,” on Wednesday afternoon, insisting it would not be a political event.
“Women’s Day is being marked all over the world. This is what we see when we tried to mark it here in the Maldives,” Malé City Mayor Shifa Mohamed told reporters near the JP headquarters Kunooz.
Unable to march, the women raised their voices and staged an impromptu protest behind the police barricades, calling for gender parity and an end to systemic harassment.
Special activities to celebrate Women’s Day are due to take place throughout Thursday at government, private and state-owned company offices, including the annual Rehendhi awards ceremony, which recognises women’s contributions in various fields.
The representation of women in decision-making posts is low in the Maldives. Women account for only five out of 85 lawmakers, six out of more than 180 judges, 40 out of 653 local council members, and 22 out of 132 ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers.
Fewer than half the women of working age in the Maldives have paid jobs.
"Walk The Talk", organised by the Joint Opposition to celebrate #WomensDay2018, calling for gender parity, equal opportunities & end to harassment, obstructed by @PoliceMv. MDP calls on the regime to stop harassment of women exercising their rights #WomensDay#PressForProgess pic.twitter.com/dSOEjLDhVM
— MDP Secretariat (@MDPSecretariat) March 8, 2018
Women’s Day Walk. We are faced with systematic & institutionalised harassment. Women are blocked & barricaded by Maldives @PoliceMv, prevented from the #IWD2018 march. Women officers at the forefront actively blocking the women calling for more equality, an end to harrassment.. pic.twitter.com/13efegXVnY
— Eva Abdulla 🎈❓ (@evattey) March 8, 2018
— MP Rozaina Adam 🎈 (@Roxeyna) March 8, 2018
— Anara Naeem (@AnaraNaeem) March 8, 2018
— Sabra #FreePN 🎈 (@SabraNoordeen) March 8, 2018