A record number of Maldivian women celebrated the fourth annual Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, pulling in more than 80 across two events.
The country attracts divers from around the world but Maldivian women face barriers to taking it up as a profession, or even a hobby, as it is considered ‘dangerous’ and an activity for men.
More than 50 certified female divers living in the Greater Malé area participated in an event organised by Moodhu Bulhaa Dive Centre, which aims to train more women.
One dive was at Lankan Manta Point, near Paradise Island Resort, and the other was at Back Faru, near Hulhumalé.
They were led by an all-women team of five dive instructors and four dive masters.
In a separate event more than 30 women, including grandmothers, went diving for the first time in Fulidhoo island, Vaavu atoll.
“We wanted to show that there was no age limit to diving and that women can participate, so our dive masters went and spoke with the women of the island to mark Women’s Dive Day,” Ali Miuraaj, from Fulidhoo Dive and Watersports, told the Maldives Independent. “Most of them were afraid.
“We had an unexpected turnout. Over 30 women went diving with us and the first to go diving were the grandmothers. Everyone said they really enjoyed it.”
The women dived up to six metres during rough weather. Girls also expressed an interest in pursuing dive education, he added.
Zoona Naseem, the owner of Moodhu Bulhaa and the first female PADI course director in the Maldives, said the Moodhu Goyye (Ocean’s Women) event had been a great success.
“The best thing is, most of the participants in this year’s event are new divers,” she told the Maldives Independent. “There were more new faces at this event and most of them were not last year’s participants.
“A lot of female divers who get certified in the field also don’t engage in the field,” she said.
“It’s a good field for young women to get into. I hope these young women will go on to become course directors.”
Women’s Dive Day is marked by PADI. It is the third time the Maldives has celebrated the event.