Empowering Women in the Maldives: Enhancing Development Committees on Bodufolhudhoo, Ari Atoll

Program Year: 2024

The island of Alif Atoll is renowned for its ecological diversity. On January 18-20, The Asia Foundation’s Maldives project team visited Bodufolhudhoo island, situated in the heart of Alif Alif Atoll (Northern Ari), to engage with the Island Council, WDC, and the Association for Awareness, Recreation and Unity (AARU) and deepen their understanding of their work and collaborative efforts in community development. The locals take great care of the beaches and the environment, making Bodufolhudhoo one of the most environmentally friendly islands in North Ari Atoll. Through various initiatives, locals are working to preserve its natural beauty and protect the environment, and the Island Council is one of the top-scoring island councils in the Local Government Authority’s performance index. AARU initiated and implemented a successful plastic-reduction project, making Bodufolhudhoo the first island in the Maldives to ban single-use plastic bags.

Established in 2006, AARU is a partner of the Foundation’s Civil Society Strengthening in the Maldives project, supported by The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor/ US Department of State. Through this project, AARU aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of the island’s Women’s Development Committee (WDC). WDCs have been functioning in many islands in the Maldives since the early 1980s. Today, the WDCs are a legal entity, with a strong mandate to promote women’s participation at the local level.


Bodufolhudhoo – the first island to ban single-use plastic bags in the Maldives.

In Bodufolhudhoo, AARU is working with their WDC to provide specialized training and awareness, empowering the committee to better engage and serve their communities. These efforts include raising awareness of the budgeting process to promote effective and responsible fiscal management, and leadership development training to improve the WDC members’ confidence and effectiveness in decision-making.


The Foundation’s Maldives team at the Alif Alif Bodufolhudhoo Island Council.

During their visit to Bodufolhudhoo, the Foundation’s Maldives team met with the Island Council, WDC, and AARU, to discuss the ongoing collaborative efforts with civil society, such as the development of a five-year strategic plan for the island, focusing on priority development initiatives for the island.

Related programs: Environment and Climate Action
Related topics: Maldives

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