Gender equality, a game changer for nature

Mar 8, 2017
In Fiyoaree, Maldives, Leena wakes up every day just a little before sunrise for her morning prayer. She prepares breakfast for her family and gets her two children, 9-year-old Fathimah and 5-year-old Ahmed, ready for school, which starts at 7:30 a.m. Once she returns home, she tidies her house and takes care of the laundry, before she heads out to her parents’ farm, located 1.5 km away, to help water their vegetables. Approximately two hours later, Leena returns home to prepare lunch for her children.
Throughout the day, she juggles other household duties, including tending to her 4-month-old baby, Moan, while her husband, a fisherman, is out at sea.
At night, after she tucks her children in, Leena spends three hours making mats out of reeds that grow in nearby marshlands and wetlands.
Along with 30 other women in her village, 30-year-old Leena sells these multi-coloured woven mats to a cooperative in the capital, Malé. The co-op then sells the handicrafts to high-end tourist resorts. If the women weave on a regular basis, they can earn up to MVR1,000 (US$65) per month from the activity – which amounts to approximately 30 percent additional income to the average household income in Fiyoaree.
Like many other women in her village, and many parts of the world, Leena is the primary caregiver for the family, while her husband goes out to work. Most of the time, these women also take on the responsibility of collecting water and firewood, as well as growing and harvesting crops.
Even though the past decades have seen huge changes for women in many communities in terms of employment, there are still many women who simply cannot have a job away from their villages because of their duties at home. This is why home or village-based income-generating opportunities, such as Leena’s weaving, are so important.
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Maldives independent, March 8, 2017

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