Women’s Rights in MaldivesIn recent years, the Republic of Maldives established itself as an upper-middle-income country with a booming tourism sector. The nation’s islands, spread across many atolls, have become a popular destination for luxury stays in overwater bungalows. International visitors provide half of the Maldives’ revenue. With jobs and opportunities on non-native islands, women have been stepping out of traditional domestic roles and are migrating to urban areas for greater economic independence. This shines a light on women’s rights in the Maldives.

Obstacles to Women’s Rights in the Maldives

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on the citizens of this island nation. Tourism and related services affect standards of living and lifestyles significantly. In 2019, poverty in the Maldives had fallen to 2.1%. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that poverty rates would rise to 7.2%.

The pandemic has impacted women’s rights in the Maldives in two significant ways. Firstly, women experienced income losses more severely than men, and secondly, women reported an increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence.

Women in the Workforce

In the Maldives, which has a historically patriarchal culture, many women rely on informal employment and financial contributions from others to make a living. This disqualifies them from unemployment and other forms of COVID-19 assistance. Although many men also engage in informal work, 54% of women have seen their income decline during the pandemic compared to only 40% of men.

As a result of the pandemic, many women are not only earning less and receiving less from family or friends but are also unable to qualify for assistance. Government support and charity remain the only stable resources during the pandemic. However, women benefit less from both forms of aid on average.

With the economic success of tourism and related fields, many women migrate to the capital city of Malé where opportunities for formal work and economic independence abound. Still, only 59% of women make a living from paid employment relative to 70% of men.

When the COVID-19 virus began to spread, tourism in the Maldives came to a halt and women were the first to lose their jobs. As the economy suffered, the cost of living in Malé forced many to return home to rural communities and resort to informal work. The implication is that many of these women may never return to the city or to formal employment.

Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence

COVID-19 brought financial stress and upheaval to many homes in the Maldives. In a U.N. Women survey, 68% of Maldives women reported increased mental and emotional stress since the onset of the pandemic. The study identified likely stressors to include economic strain and the rise in gender-based violence.

A surge in gender-based violence and domestic violence reports occurred after the nation’s lockdown and again when the Maldives lifted its COVID-19-related restrictions. During the lockdown, welfare services were secondary to the pandemic response and there was also a relatively low number of reports. However, the instances of violence may be higher. Lockdown and restrictions place the affected women in constant, close proximity with perpetrators while financial stress and lifestyle changes compound instances of violence. In the Maldives, societal norms dictate the authority of men and shame women for coming forward with reports of gender-based violence.

Moving Forward

Despite these recent setbacks, the country is making progress in improving women’s rights in the Maldives. Women have made strides for gender parity in education and are building a sense of empowerment through financial security. The nation has set an example for other countries with an equal ratio of boys to girls enrolling in and completing primary and secondary school.

The Maldives’ Strategic Action Plan for 2019 to 2023 notes women’s economic participation, representation in government, sexual harassment and domestic violence as policy priorities. The planning document also recognizes that additional resources are necessary to follow through on important gender equality legislation. The Maldives introduced it recently to address these disparities.

Within the past decade, the Maldivian government has introduced the following legislation to advance women’s rights in the Maldives: the Gender Equality Act (2016), the Sexual Harassment and Prevention Act (2014), the Sexual Offenses Act (2014) and the Domestic Violence Act (2012).

COVID-19 presents a challenge to the momentum building for women’s rights in the Maldives, but with the return of international tourism, projections determine that the economy will rebound. Looking forward, women’s economic empowerment should remain a priority for the Maldives to continue making significant gains in gender equality.

– Angela Basinger
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination in the MaldivesAs of June 29, 2021, the Maldives has reported more than 73,000 cases of COVID-19. The Maldives has a population of more than 515,000 with one of the country’s main sources of income stemming from tourism. The program for COVID-19 vaccination in the Maldives is not only protecting citizens but is also playing a significant role in post-pandemic economic recovery.

The Maldives in Numbers

In 2009, The rate of people living on less than $5.50 a day in the Maldives was 42.7%. Just seven years later, the poverty rate dropped to 3.4%. In recent years, the Maldives has made many improvements, contributing to the stability of the country. This includes infrastructure improvements and investments in health and education. The country boasts a close to 100% literacy rate and a life year expectancy of more than 78 years.

Through these developments, the Maldives has attained the status of an upper-middle-income country. In terms of economic growth, the country significantly relies on tourism revenue. In 2019, the tourism industry accounted for 21% of the country’s gross domestic product as more than 1.7 million people vacationed to the Maldives.

The Impact of COVID-19

In March 2020, the Maldives began to experience the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism industry came to an abrupt halt and borders remained closed until mid-July 2020. Even as travel into the country re-opened, the Maldives reported only one-third of visiting tourists compared to the number of tourists visiting in 2019.

The decrease in tourism has contributed to the 28% decline in gross domestic product in 2020 and an increase in poverty to 7.2%. The pandemic has affected employees in the tourism industry more than any other industry in the Maldives. The JobCenter reports that within the tourism industry in the Maldives, only 74% of employees remained employed in 2020, with 30% on “no pay leave.”

With the program for COVID-19 vaccination in the Maldives, the country has the opportunity to protect its citizens and simultaneously bring its tourism rates back up.

The Maldives Vaccine Rollout

As of April 14, 2021, the Maldives has vaccinated 53% of its population with first doses. The country prioritized “90% of its frontline tourism workers” with a first dose. The vaccine is available at no cost to residents and migrant workers and is approved for anyone 16 or older. With the help of other countries and partnerships, the program for COVID-19 vaccination in the Maldives has seen success so far.

Factors that play an important role in this vaccine success include India’s donation of 100,000 Covishield vaccines on January 20, 2021. The Maldives has also purchased 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses straight from the manufacturer. The Maldives expects to receive vaccines from the COVAX facility as well. The country has also received vaccine supplies from Singapore.

Because of the small Maldivian population and the allocation of vaccines the Maldives is receiving from various allies and organizations, there are currently no supply shortage concerns. The United States has also committed to donating roughly seven million vaccines to Asia by the end of June 2021. The U.S. vaccine donation will be distributed to several Asian countries, including the Maldives.

Visit, Vaccinate and Vacation

COVID-19 vaccinations in the Maldives will soon be open to tourists. The Maldives hopes to enact a “3V” strategy, “visit, vaccinate and vacation.” This approach will begin only after the remaining unvaccinated residents of the Maldives receive both doses of the vaccine. Once the Maldives meets this goal, it will have the ability to vaccinate tourists upon entry.

Leaders hope this initiative will help restore the hard-hit tourism industry and promote the health and safety of all people. Many tourists work remotely from the Maldives on so-called “workations.” The Maldives’ leaders believe the initiative will appeal to people desiring a holiday with the incentive of also getting access to COVID-19 vaccinations. Increased tourism will allow the employment rate to rise as demand in resorts, restaurants and shops expands with more visitors.

Tourism is steadily increasing throughout the country. With a creative solution, the Maldives aims to restore pre-pandemic tourism levels and the economy while prioritizing the health of citizens and travelers.

– Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr

Domestic violence in the Maldives
In July, the Maldives’ Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services introduced a nationwide campaign to combat domestic violence and encourage women’s empowerment. The campaign is intended to last for a three month period and raise awareness on domestic violence in the Maldives.

The Maldives is considered a “development success” by the World Bank. In the last few decades, the Maldives’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita multiplied by more than fifty. The average life expectancy is the Maldives is now 78 years it has almost achieved full literacy across the nation. Now, the country is turning its attention to women’s rights and domestic violence.

Women’s Rights in the Maldives

The Maldives has improved its Gender Inequality Index score significantly in the last two decades from 0.649 to 0.367. The GII takes into account a variety of factors to measure equality between genders, with nations closer to 0 being the most equal. Women contribute to the nation’s economic and political progress through leadership roles and participation in the workforce.

However, the Maldives today still grapples with structural forms of gender inequality. A byproduct of this is the prevalence of domestic violence. According to data collected by the U.N. in 2017, 56% of women ranging from ages 15 to 49 had experienced physical or sexual violence from their partners in the last 12 months.

To continue furthering socio-economic progress in the Maldives, women’s rights and gender equality must not be sidelined. Recognizing this, the government has begun to make a stronger effort to combat domestic violence.

Women’s Rights and Poverty

Economic inequality between the genders is also a persistent social issue in the Maldives. According to research done by the UNDP, Maldivian women’s Gross National Income is lower than men’s by a staggering 48%.

As of 2016, 8.2% of Maldivians live below the nation’s poverty line. Due to structural inequalities that exclude women from major sectors of the economy, such as tourism and agriculture, women are more vulnerable to poverty in the Maldives. For example, the tourism industry indirectly accounts for nearly 60% of the Maldivian economy, but only three percent of women contribute to this sector, in contrast with nearly 50% of men.

Greater women’s empowerment and gender equality have been shown to boost nations’ economic growth. Gender gaps in employment and access to equal opportunity can cost approximately 15% of a nation’s GDP. Allowing women to access the same employment as men in the Maldives would not only benefit the nations’ path of economic growth but help to lift the Maldives’ most vulnerable from extreme poverty.

Furthermore, women’s economic empowerment can be linked to domestic violence. While it is not the only factor, when women can financially support themselves, they are more likely to be able to leave their abusers. Improving women’s rights and helping raise them out of poverty can improve the overall economy and help women escape domestic violence.

The ‘Geveshi Gulhun’ Campaign

The president of the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, participated in the inauguration of the Maldives’ anti-domestic violence campaign on July 15, 2020. This campaign comes after public demands from individuals and civil society groups that the government fulfill its promises to address issues like sexual violence and domestic violence.

The campaign aims to raise further national awareness about gender inequality and change long-standing stereotypes about women. The ‘Geveshi Gelhun’ campaign is a necessary first step to what is hopefully a more equitable future in the Maldives.

At the event, President Solih announced that the government would almost double the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services budget to develop resources to address gender-based violence against women in the nation. In addition, he promised that the government would make legislative changes to further punish cases of sexual violence.

The three-month campaign is mostly administered through various forms of media. This has consisted of live television programming, social media posts and billboards to raise awareness. The Ministry is working with local businesses and artists to develop the campaign’s messaging.

Moving Forward

The ‘Geveshi Gelhun’ campaign is a great step in the right direction. Raising awareness and enacting stronger legislation will hopefully have a significant impact on women’s rights. To continue combatting domestic violence in the Maldives, the government and other humanitarian organizations must make this issue a focus of their efforts.

Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in maldivesThe Maldives, a series of islands bordering both India and Sri Lanka, has faced increased obstacles with food security and hunger. With a population of 515,696 citizens, it is estimated that over 10.3% are battling with hunger. However, increased efforts have been made to combat this rise in hunger in the Maldives.

Problem in Numbers

With various scattered islands in the Maldives, it must be noted that a majority of citizens live in urban areas. However, despite this setting, 17.3% of children in the Maldives are underweight while 10.6% are wasted — a condition where a child’s muscle and fat tissues dissolve away to the bone.

It is also estimated that 36% of babies are not exclusively breastfed in their first six months of life, leading many to not receive the necessary nutrients to develop. This heavily contributes to serious health problems in the future.

In addition to the youth being affected by malnutrition, it must be noted that the adult population is also facing a malnutrition burden, with 42.6% of women of reproductive age having anemia.

Causes of Hunger and Poverty

Food insecurity in the Maldives points towards a variety of factors. A recent cause is resultant poverty caused by a lack of tourists. It is estimated that tourism accounts for two-thirds of the nation’s GDP. However, recent border closures due to COVID-19 have severely impacted citizens on a national scale. With one-third of adult males and a quarter of females engaged in tourism-related occupations, thousands have lost their jobs, making it harder for people to provide food and other basic necessities for their families.

Climate change, environmental degradation and declining ocean health severely threaten food security in the Maldives. Rapid changes in temperatures, flooding and drought, impact agricultural yields, reducing the ability to locally produce food.

Another factor that contributes to hardships is the decline of exports in the fish sector. With fishery accounting for another large portion of the nation’s GDP, many families who depend on fisheries as their main source of income have experienced serious financial impacts.

Road to Change

Despite the increased rates of hunger among the Maldivian population, organizations have stepped up to aid the needy. A prominent organization is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has dedicated itself to developing both fisheries and agriculture in the Maldives.

The main course of action for the FAO was to reassess the situation in the Maldives and open opportunities to grow the fishery and agriculture sector. Through promoting a stable framework, the organization enabled thousands to enter new jobs in the agriculture industry while accelerating demand for certain goods.

Another course of action was teaching sustainable practices to hundreds of Maldivian farmers. By helping with smaller-scale farms, FAO was able to heavily accelerate growth, boosting production in underprivileged communities. The FAO also helped equip farmers to thrive during climate change. The organization provided farmers with knowledge and methods to increase the productivity of their crops, livestock and fisheries in the face of adverse climatic conditions.

Despite great aid from the FAO, the Maldives continues to face problems in feeding the entirety of its population. Organizations like the FAO can help in the short-term but the Maldives needs government assistance to see long-term change. For the Maldives to see a reduced hunger rate, the government must act alongside nonprofit organizations to increase food security in the country. With the help of NGOs and the Maldivian government, the overall hunger rate in the Maldives can be reduced.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: UNDP

Healthcare in Maldives
People know the Maldives internationally for its beautiful beaches and remote atolls. This south Asian nation has a unique healthcare system with a design specific for an island. Here are seven facts about healthcare in the Maldives.

7 Facts About Healthcare in the Maldives

  1. Universal Healthcare: The Maldives has universal health insurance that covers a plethora of primary care services. The country’s health scheme is called Husnuvaa Aasandha and the state-owned company Aasandha runs it. Husnuvaa Aasandha means “healthcare for all without a ceiling protection limit” according to the Aasandha website, and it receives funding from the Maldives’ government. Notably, the plan pays for citizens to go abroad for certain medical treatments if the treatments are not available in the Maldives.
  2. Tier-based System: The Maldives has a “tier-based” healthcare system. Every inhabited island, even the most sparsely populated, has a primary care facility. Every inhabited atoll, or island chain, has a secondary care facility. Larger urban areas also have tertiary care centers.
  3. Government Spending: According to a 2018 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), 9% of the Maldives’ GDP goes toward healthcare. The country spends a higher percentage of its GDP on healthcare than any country in Southeast Asia, where the average expenditure for the region is 3.46%.
  4. Operation: Primary medical facilities often struggle to operate effectively. A report from 2019 revealed that a lack of supplies and equipment is a major factor hampering the Maldives’ primary health facilities. These facilities also have high staff turnover rates and are expensive to operate.
  5. Medicine: Medicine can be unusually expensive in the Maldives. Importing pharmaceuticals is often costly, as the Maldives is a fairly remote island nation. Furthermore, an analysis from 2014 found that price controls on medicine did not experience enforcement. Some pharmaceuticals cost patients more than 100% of their importation costs.
  6. Disease: Noncommunicable diseases such as respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases cause the most deaths in the Maldives. Noncommunicable diseases such as these cause almost 80% of deaths in the country according to a 2018 WHO report.
  7. Life Expectancy: The Maldives has an above-average life expectancy. The life expectancy in the Maldives was 78.6 years in 2019, while the world average the same year was 72.6.

Healthcare in the Maldives is rapidly improving, with the country having an above-average life expectancy and basic health services on all inhabited islands. However, some areas of the nation struggle to receive essential medical supplies and medicine can be expensive. Overall, these seven facts about healthcare in the Maldives show that the country is making progress a priority and heading towards promising results.

– Kayleigh Crabb
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in the Maldives
People might know the Maldives for its clean blue waters, luxurious resorts and the millions of tourists that visit the archipelago but may not know that the small island nation continues to tussle for its economy and against poverty. Poverty in the Maldives dates back to the early 1980s when it became part of a list of the 20 poorest countries in the world. The 2004 tsunami further weakened the economy of the island nation, which consists of 1,192 tropical islands. A global financial crisis emerged in 2008, putting the country in a vulnerable position.

Current Scenario

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank state that the GDP in the Maldives rose to $4.51 billion in 2018 from a mere $42.46 million in 1979. Wealth inequality does not persist in the Maldives and poverty rates vary across geographic locations. As the World Bank expected, the GDP growth slowed down from 6.7 percent in 2018 to 5.2 percent in 2019. Poverty in the Maldives is no longer a crisis, but the risks remain high.

Sustainable Development Goals

The country has been victorious in achieving a few of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Observations have determined that the annual rise in GDP is around 5 percent. The tourism industry, fisheries and other sources have played a significant role in strengthening the economy and employment rate. Half of the economy of the island nation comes from tourism and another 12 percent comes from the fisheries across the islands.

There might be people with very low incomes but there are no urban beggars or slum dwellers, even with an increase in the rural-urban migration rates. Recently, literacy rates in the Maldives have reached around 100 percent. There are no major causes of diseases and infections in the Maldives. The starvation rate is zero as well.


In 2018, the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, with youth unemployment making up 15.3 percent. More than half of the working strata of people are employees in the tourism sector or fisheries, which often makes them fall sick. About 8.2 percent of the total population falls below the national poverty line.

Life Span

The life spans of citizens have increased considerably thanks to the rapid and drastic expansion in economy and infrastructure. According to the World Bank, the Maldives’ life expectancy in 2018 reached 77.2 years. Meanwhile, life expectancy was only 69.2 years in the year 2000. The increase in life expectancy has been considerable. However, there is a certain limitation to that as well since the island nation has limited infrastructure and resources.

Although the GDP increases every year, this pattern in economic growth is quite irregular. New establishments in the tourism industry and infrastructure should bring the GDP to 5.5 percent in 2020.

There is no denying that the country has made drastic improvements to help the situation of poverty in the Maldives. However, the situation continues to be fragile and vulnerable. If the Maldives continues to grow its tourism industry and infrastructure, it should be able to continue to reduce poverty in the future.

Astha Mamtani
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Maldives
The Republic of Maldives is a prime example of a nation that has seen tremendous development and a transformation in the quality of life over the last half-century. Formerly among the least developed countries in the world, the Maldives has achieved upper-middle-class status with one of the highest life expectancies at birth worldwide. These 10 facts about life expectancy in the Maldives demonstrate the achievements of the cooperation and efforts of many sources:

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in the Maldives

  1. The Maldives is one of only five countries to graduate from the U.N.’s least developed countries (LDC) designation, achieving upper-middle-class status in 2011 in part because of its eradication of extreme poverty and vastly improved rates of life expectancy.
  2. The Maldives has seen the greatest increase in life expectancy at birth of any country over the last 59 years. According to the World Bank, Maldivians’ life expectancy has risen from 37 years in 1960 to 77 years in 2016. That’s one year lower than the United States, at 78, and above the worldwide average of 72 years. The 40-year improvement is well above the 19 year increase worldwide over the same period.
  3. The Maldives met five out of eight of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as of 2011 and is on track to meet its Sustained Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. The SDGs are an extension of the health, financial and infrastructure MDGs set by the U.N. to equalize global development by 2000. Millennium goals to conquer poverty, hunger, child mortality, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, as well as to achieve universal primary education and improve women’s health are considered fully achieved. Sustained health goals are a focus for the Maldivian government, including implementing successful initiatives to improve health, end hunger, improve nutrition, food security and apply sustainable agricultural practices.
  4. Foreign aid efforts by the World Bank, AusAID and the EU and the governments of several individual nations have played a vital role. Aid began in the 1980s with infrastructure improvements to Maldives’ fisheries and central airport, providing income for 20 percent of the population involved in fishing and improving the transport of aid and foreign resources by air. Education and training projects totaled $39.2 million by 2000 and aid increased after the 2004 tsunami to include $14 million in emergency funds.
  5. The United States has provided long-term aid to the Maldives since 2005. Projects sponsored by USAID helped restore water supply systems, upgrade sewage systems and power facilities and improve financial operations. Other United States aid efforts from the CDC are currently helping the Maldivian Ministry of Health monitor and treat communicable diseases like influenza across the country.
  6. Investments in health initiatives and the availability of care have dramatically improved life expectancy in the Maldives. The Maldivian government spent 7.5 percent of its gross national product on healthcare in 2004 and 13.7 percent in 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The nation has had a universal healthcare system since 2011,  and with help from WHO, eradicated Lymphatic Filariasis in 2016 and Measles in 2017. Mass drug administration, preventive chemotherapy and a political commitment to vaccinate children helped achieve eradication, with 99 percent of children under 12 having received a Measles vaccine as of 2017.
  7. Significant improvements in the health of women and children have been reported since 1990. In 2017, the fertility rate was at an all-time low, with only 2.1 births per woman rather than six in 1990. This drop contributed greatly to improvements in maternal health and quality of life for Maldivian children. Mortality rates for children under 5 years old dropped to eight in 1,000 births, helped by the increase in births attended by a healthcare professional from 70 percent in 2000 to 96 percent in 2017. Early childhood malnutrition, however, remains a serious threat to future life expectancy in the Maldives.
  8. Improved water quality and sanitation have decreased infectious disease outbreaks. At least 99 percent of Maldivians had access to improved water sources in 2015, with 98 percent reporting improved sanitation. However, inadequate waste disposal has continued to lead to water stagnation, worsening outbreaks of Dengue in certain areas.
  9. Maldives status as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) put it at risk of devastation from environmental change. The lowest-lying nation in the world, Maldives highest point is six feet above sea level, with several islands having already been evacuated due to flooding caused by rising oceans. Increasing numbers of young Maldivians migrating to urban centers face overcrowding, increased drug use and strained resources, as well as economic difficulties resulting from an unemployment rate of 23.5 percent in 2016. Health consequences arising from urban lifestyles, namely malnutrition and obesity and increased rates of heart disease, cancer and other non-communicable diseases, threaten future life expectancy in the Maldives.
  10. Current and proposed initiatives hold promise for overcoming environmental and health challenges. Five current World Bank projects are targeting preservation of the nation’s marine ecosystems, while five programs in the pipeline aim to diversify a Maldivian economy threatened by dependence on fishing. At the same time, health providers are focusing on mental health and contraceptive services, while policymakers tackle gender-based violence and public hygiene.

Progress in health and sanitation, as well as investment and aid from international NGOs, have enabled Maldivians to live 40 years longer than they would have two generations ago. As a Small Island Developing State, however, Maldives faces threats from climate change. These 10 facts about life expectancy in the Maldives show incredible progress, yet it is unclear whether the nation has now achieved the self-sufficiency to meet these challenges without further international assistance.

– Marissa Field
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Maldives

The South Asian island nation of Maldives is famous with people around the globe for its pristine beaches that attract more than 1 million tourists a year. While the Maldives may be famous for its luxurious accommodations, the country still struggles with poverty and diversified economic development. In order to gain a better understanding of poverty in the country, below are the top 10 facts about poverty in the Maldives.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Maldives

  1. Maldives’s economy has grown rapidly since emphasizing infrastructural development, offering many citizens hope of improved living standard. In 1980, Maldives had a GDP of merely $42.46 million. As of 2017, the country’s economy has risen to an estimated GDP of $4.51 billion, ranking it the 52nd highest in the world.
  2. Although GDP has certainly increased in recent years, the rate of economic growth in the Maldives has fluctuated. In the beginning years of rapid development, Maldives experienced as much as a 9 percent decrease in GDP due to political instability, global economic decline and a lack of diversified economy. Most recently, however, Maldives maintained a 7 percent economic growth rate.
  3. The service industry accounts for an overwhelming majority of the GDP in the Maldives at an estimated 81 percent, while industry and agriculture comprise 16 percent and 3 percent of the GDP, respectively. Although the service industry contributes the most money to Maldives’s economy, over 30 percent of the country’s 392,709 people work in agriculture and industry.
  4. The unemployment rate in the Maldives is low, with job opportunities for a large majority of people in the country. Due to increased economic development in the service industry, the unemployment rate in the Maldives has a projection of continuous decrease.
  5. Poverty rates in the Maldives have also steadily dropped as the economy of the country grows. In 2002, almost 23 percent of the population lived below the poverty line (defined as having anywhere between $1.90 and $3.10 a day). This number dropped to 15.7 percent by 2009, but poverty and hunger remain an issue in the Maldives. According to 2014-2016 estimates from the Asian Development Bank, 8.5 percent of the population suffers from undernourishment.
  6. Life expectancy in the Maldives has risen drastically catalyzed by rapid infrastructural and economic expansion. In 1960, the average lifetime of people in the country was approximately 37 years and has more than doubled to 77 years in 2016.
  7. School enrollment in the Maldives has surprisingly decreased since the country’s economic development. In 2012, 82 percent of primary school students completed their full studies, while this number was as high as 94 percent in 1996. This drop in academic persistence could be attributed to parental restriction and development of tourism industry that offers employment in early life stages.
  8. Despite lower primary school enrollment in the Maldives, the adult literacy rate in the country has increased and is currently at 98.61 percent. In young adults aged from 15 to 24, the literacy rate is at even higher 99.27 percent. Male and female literacy rates are relatively equal with 98.52 percent and 98.69 percent, respectively.
  9. Nearly half of Maldivians live in urban conditions (46.5 percent of the population). Urbanization in the country is a result of a migration shift as 44 percent of Maldivians shifted their place of residence, most to urban areas. This is most likely due to better work opportunities in the developed service industry.
  10. In the capital city of Malé, issues with population density have arisen, as 126,000 people (almost third of the population) claim to reside in the city. Of this number, only 57,000 are registered as residents. Population density is extremely high in Malé, with 59,570 people per square mile.

The Maldives has transformed its economy over the last few decades to become a luxury tourism hotspot. A drastic increase in the service industry, along with the small albeit present agricultural industry has allowed the country to improve its standard of living. Although the economy has rapidly grown, poverty for some people in the Maldives remains a reality. With a more diversified economy and population density issue resolved on the island nation, poverty will continue to decrease in the Maldives.

– Matthew Cline

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in the Maldives

Maldives is made up of over 1,100 islands with a population of 400,000 people. According to Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), they are trying to facilitate potential credit access with measures like the Credit Information Bureau and the “Credit Guarantee Scheme for small- and medium-sized enterprise financing.”

The Credit Guarantee Scheme

Launched on August 7, 2016, the Credit Guarantee Scheme was set up to encourage banks to loan money out to small- or medium-sized businesses, so that individuals can have easier credit access in the Maldives. The program was started for businesses, under normal circumstance, that were unable to secure a loan.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme “will guarantee 90 percent of the loan granted by the participating banks to commercially viable small- and medium-sized enterprises,” according to the MMA. For the program to work, businesses have to meet the following criteria:

  • The business must be registered with the Ministry of Economic Development as a small- and medium-sized business.
  • All shareholders/owners must be Maldivian.
  • The business should be registered with the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority.
  • There should be no overdue loans at any bank or financial institution.
  • The business must be financially viable.

The loan amount can either be 100,000 rufiyaa (approximately $6,450) or 1,000,000 rufiyaa (approximately $64,480). The interest rate is 9 percent and the repayment period is five years. The borrower can have a grace period of six to 12 months with zero collateral and an equity contribution of 20 percent. According to the MMA, in 2016, a total of 68 applications were submitted with a total value of 44,628,896 rufiyaa (approximately $2.9 million).

The Credit Information Bureau

The Credit Information Bureau, the first system of its kind for Maldives, holds the credit information of individuals who are requesting credit. According to Minivan News, “the creation of a formal mechanism for sharing credit information will improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises.”

Maldives’ main income is due to tourism and fishing. According to the World Bank, Maldives is considered to be an upper middle-income country because of the returns of tourism. Maldives poverty “declined from 23 percent in 2003 to 16 percent in 2010 based on the national poverty line.”

Maldives has also experienced a growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the rate has been steady in developed countries, Maldives growth is relatively higher. According to Bangladesh Bank, the average growth in the last four years “has been approximately 6.8 percent, which is significantly higher compared to regional growth rates.”

The Maldives are attempting to establish credit for its people so that they’re able to open their small- and medium-sized businesses that were unable to apply for credit before. This not only helps the country but the individuals as well, so they have credit access in the Maldives.

– Valeria Flores
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Maldives
Despite its beautiful beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, Maldives is one of the poverty-stricken countries battling its developmental growth. Roughly 35 percent of Maldives is under 18 years old, making education a key area for social investment, especially in girls’ education. While the primary education is achieved equally by boys and girls, girls’ education in Maldives ends before they move to secondary education, which remains a big challenge for the Maldives government to combat.

The literacy rates for both adults and youth are the highest in the region and exceed the world average. Maldives has made such progress in achieving universal primary education with perfect gender parities, despite the devastating tsunami of 2005 that swept over most of its islands. However, it remains a challenge to ensure quality remains a key concern in primary education and to encourage girls to pursue secondary and higher education.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Maldives

  • 100 percent enrollment ratio in primary education
  • 99 percent of pupils starting grade 1 reach grade 5
  • 65 percent enrollment ratio in lower secondary education
  • 7 percent enrollment ratio in higher secondary education
  • 92 boys for every 100 girls in primary education
  • 112 boys for every 100 girls in secondary education

The government of Maldives considers gender disparity a non-issue and does not guarantee a free and compulsory primary education for all girls. The Maldives’ Ministry of Education’s 2006 statistics indicate that every primary school age boy and girl in the country are enrolled in primary school. Moreover, 99 percent of girls who have completed primary school have continued into secondary education. However, after the 2007 Asian Development Bank Assessment, the government is taking steps to encourage girls to pursue postsecondary education.

Challenges and Barriers to Girls’ Education in Maldives

Maldives is located on a 1,000 kilometer-long chain of islands where the cost of transporting teachers and students becomes an expensive affair. Since transportation among islands is expensive, many children are at risk of being invisible, meaning they are unable to receive an education or they move away from parents to attend school. In addition, Maldives is dependent on expatriate teachers, and the quality of education is uneven for the 70 percent that lives on islands far from the capital, where two-thirds of teachers remain untrained, libraries and separate toilets for girls are unavailable and children with special needs have little access to school. Because of the lack of training, especially in gender sensitivity, curriculum materials and textbooks have strong gender biases.

Due to strong gender biases, women’s participation in politics and senior management levels is very low. In ADB’s (2007) analysis, women constitute only 15 percent of the legislators and senior officials in Maldives, and only a third of government officials are female. Gender division of labor is evident in public service employment with women making up 54 percent of the temporary positions, primarily to carry out tasks that are culturally “suitable” to them. For example, in the sectors of education, health and welfare, women are supervised and managed by senior ranking male employees.

Improvements in Girls’ Education in Maldives

In a country where settlements are sparsely scattered across small islands, the government has established at least two primary schools in each atoll to improve girls’ education in Maldives. With support from UNICEF, the pilot initiative of child-friendly schools, which was started with 22 schools, was scaled up to 105 during the post-tsunami period.

In addition, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have come up with a novel solution: a series of 20 Teacher Training Centres (TRCs), one in each of the atolls that make up the country. These TRCs provide teachers and students with a trove of modern online teaching and learning tools at the touch of their fingertips, thanks to banks of high-speed Internet-enabled computers, SmartBoards that allow for interactive training at a distance and a website being developed by Cambridge International Examinations that are adapted specifically to Maldives. The Maldives Government has recognized the importance of training school teachers and heads supervisors in child-friendly approaches.


A report suggests that a gender audit should be conducted at the institutional level, so issues related to the subordinate role of women in organizations are highlighted. There should be a political will to spark organizational structures that allow gender equality in the workplace, which in turn can encourage girls to continue school at higher levels, as well as to pursue learning in fields that have traditionally been male-dominated. School and teacher training focused projects should make their output, outcome and impact indicators more explicit about progress milestones in terms of closing the gender gaps.

Although there is a good enrollment of girls and boys in the primary school, gender disparity exists in access to and attainment in secondary and post-secondary education and vocational training programs. The stereotypical perceptions of gender roles limit girls’ and women’s mobility and restrict their educational participation beyond primary level, as such opportunities are available only in urban areas or city centers. Girls’ education in Maldives is very low at the secondary level and measures have been taken by the government to motivate girls to study further and take-up jobs which are male-dominated.

– Preethi Ravi
Photo: Flickr