Mohamed Muizzu’s administration, while advocating for women’s empowerment, faces scrutiny over the underrepresentation of women in key political positions. Recent figures reveal that only 22% of top government roles are occupied by women, underscoring a significant gender gap.

Addressing the scrutiny over the lack of female representation in the current government’s top positions, Under-Secretary Mohamed Firzul Abdulla Khaleel said that women’s appointments in senior government company positions are significantly higher than in any previous administration. This development indicates a potential rise in female leadership within the public sector.

However, in contrast, Muizzu’s cabinet presents a less progressive picture. With only three women among the 22 ministers, this represents a decline from the previous administration, where women constituted 33% of the cabinet. Political commentators have described Muizzu’s cabinet as “regressive” in terms of women’s empowerment. Notably, the President’s Office lacks any women in ministerial roles, with Dr Aishath Ikram being the sole woman at the State Minister level.

To address this disparity, President Muizzu has pledged to focus on appointing women to leadership roles in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Additionally, his Progressive-Congress Coalition aims for 20% female representation in parliament in the 2024 Parliamentary Elections.

The administration also faces criticism for the overall increase in political appointments. While President Muizzu vowed to limit political posts to 700, a policy maintained since his transitional period, there has been public backlash over the perceived excess in these appointments. Government Spokesperson Mohamed Shaheeb confirmed that less than 50% of these positions have been filled to date. This figure contrasts with the 1,063 political appointees under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and 808 under President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Although there are strides in increasing female participation in senior roles within government companies, the Muizzu administration still falls short of achieving gender parity in political appointments. These sentiments were echoed by the First Lady, who stated that while there are more women in various occupations and civil services in the country, men are still predominantly engaged in higher-level leadership positions.