February 28 2017, by Shafaa Hameed
A four-day women’s craft expo in Malé that concluded Monday night has been branded a huge success by its organisers, citing high sales and the number of local and tourist visitors.
An initiative of First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim, the Heevagi Kanbalun exhibition reportedly showcased more than 26,000 items from 400 individuals and 200 NGOs who answered a call for submissions in early January.
The items on display ranged from traditional handicraft and cakes to children’s clothes and handmade garments. The expo also featured live cooking, cultural performances, and music and dance shows as well as a lucky draw for visitors.
Hundreds of women attended the all-female, invitation-only opening ceremony of the expo on Thursday night.
In his speech, President Abdulla Yameen pledged to appoint women to 40 percent of posts on the director’s boards of state-owned enterprises by the end of his first term next year.
Yameen also pledged assistance to market products created by women, stressing that consistent high quality and faster modes of production are important for sustainable businesses. He also noted that the aim of introducing B-Tech education to the national curriculum was to teach skills to students who struggle academically in order to prepare them for employment.
Speaking to the Maldives Independent, Shifa Mohamed, president of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s women’s wing, questioned the government’s policy for women’s empowerment.
“What I see is this government probing ladies more towards staying home and doing cookery. Why would anyone at any level of the government think that handicraft work only belongs to women?” she asked.
“Besides, culinary is one field where we do much better. A government must encourage women to compete with men. The gender minister sitting next to the first lady encouraging this is like a slap on the face for all those working for women’s rights.”
Yameen meanwhile went on to praise his wife’s efforts for empowering women and encouraging economic self-sufficiency.
According to state media, more than 10,000 people visited the expo by Saturday night, including more than 100 tourists.
A jobs fair held in Hulhumalé earlier this month was also an initiative of the first lady. The ‘Youth Career Expo 2017’ took place at the government-run Rehendhi School, which was decked with massive posters of Yameen, some with quotes about his administration’s focus on youth development.
Photos from president’s office.
Source URL: Maldives Independent