On May 17, 2015, the Vice Chancellor of The Maldives National University (MNU), Dr. Hassan Hameed, and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Maldives Chief of Party Beverly Hagerdon Thakur signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the University Seminar Program. Under the MOU, IFES will support MNU’s political science program by developing and conducting a series of six seminars on political and electoral systems and their impact on political culture, women’s political participation and youth. The seminars aim to give students tools to think critically about political and electoral issues.
To date, three seminars have been conducted. On February 12, IFES Gender Specialist Terry Rogers presented a public lecture at MNU’s auditorium on women’s leadership to a mixed audience of both students and older adults. Rogers led a discussion on possible actions to address barriers to women’s political participation. Ideas included having political parties recruit more women, changing the political finance system for candidates, and increasing women’s political participation at the local level.
On April 26, Professor Elin Bjarnegård from Sweden’s Uppsala University delivered the first of two lectures for political science students at MNU. The first seminar was aimed at first-year students and provided an introduction to gender equality and social justice from an international perspective. Professor Bjarnegård facilitated an interactive session that focused on the differences in gender equality around the world and its importance for development more broadly. The second seminar was held on April 27 for second-year political science students. Professor Bjarnegård discussed the causes and consequences of male dominance and female underrepresentation in politics. She also examined different modes of political recruitment of women through political parties and various types of gender quotas implemented around the world.
IFES will continue collaborating with MNU regarding topics for the remaining three lectures. It is anticipated the six lectures will become part of the permanent curriculum at the MNU political science department. The university seminars are made possible by the generous support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IFES and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.