President Dr Mohamed Muizzu announced his cabinet on Friday, introducing an unprecedented 22 ministries to support his governance.

Previously, President Muizzu had stated that his cabinet would consist of educated and capable ministers to lead their respective ministries. Following the announcement, there was overwhelming positive sentiment for including respected statesmen and women.

Notably, the cabinet includes former ministers such as Dr Aishath Shiham, who held ministerial positions during former presidents Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s tenures, and Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, who is returning to a portfolio he held under President Yameen.

Other ministers receiving public admiration include Dr Maryam Mariya, Minister of Higher Education, Labour and Skills Development; Ali Ihusaan, Minister of Homeland Security and Technology; and Adam Naseer Ibrahim, Minister of Dhivehi Language, Culture and Heritage.

Mixed reactions emerged regarding the appointment of Moosa Zameer as Foreign Minister, given his background as a former tourism minister and the presence of seasoned diplomats in President Muizzu’s transitional committee.

Zameer’s previous portfolio drew significant scrutiny, with Ibrahim Faisal, the son of PNC Chairman Abdul Raheem Abdulla, being named as Tourism Minister. Critics questioned his experience and qualifications for leading a key economic sector.

Some observers also pointed out the political nature of cabinet appointments, noting that campaign promises and rewards are typical in such selections. This suggests that, like his predecessors, Muizzu may have faced constraints in making appointments.

The most significant criticism, however, has been the lack of gender parity in the cabinet. Of the 22 ministerial positions, only three are held by women. Additionally, of the 16 new top executive positions created at the President’s Office, only one is occupied by a woman.

This lack of female representation in top government positions has been noted not only by netizens but also by former Heritage Minister Yumna Maumoon and former Deputy Speaker of Parliament and prominent women’s rights activist Aneesa Ahmed.

In a post to X, Yumna highlighted the absence of a dedicated gender ministry and remarked that having only three out of 22 posts occupied by women is a step back for women’s empowerment.

“The huge decline (from 34-14% approx.) in the representation of women in the newly sworn-in Cabinet is very disappointing. So is the status of women among the chief executives at the President’s Office: 1 among 18. Hoped for better,” Aneesa also weighed in on the matter in a post to X.

Despite the criticisms, President Muizzu has stated that the role of women in other political positions will not diminish, despite their underrepresentation in the cabinet. He has pledged to compensate by appointing women to lead major state-owned companies.