Bridging the gender gap in the Maldives construction industry

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Shaana Farooq at work at a construction site in the Maldives
 

After her Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana Farooq started overseeing the Maldives’ most significant infrastructure projects. She is now overseeing the country’s first ever bridge construction project.

As a leading woman in the Maldives’ male-dominated construction industry, Shaana inspires young women to work in the field of construction. She is not only breaking through gender norms, but also leading on pioneering construction projects, contributing to and influencing her country’s development.

Through an Australia Awards Scholarship, Shaana undertook a Master of Construction Law at Melbourne Law School. Now, as the Director General of the Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure in the Maldives, Shanna leads a team of multidisciplinary professionals, formulating and implementing major infrastructure development projects.

In addition to overseeing the development of roads, causeways and now bridges, Shaana takes responsibility for leading on reclamation and shore protection, local access harbour construction and social housing. These projects under her portfolio account for more than US$100 million in the national budget each year and are worth more than US$300 million in the form of loans or grant aid from international funding agencies.

Before undertaking her scholarship, Shaana held numerous roles at the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. She joined the construction field in 2001 as a young enthusiast of the industry. Shanna initially assisted in the administration of national tender procurement of development projects, and had a passion to learn more.

Through the knowledge and networks Shaana gained through her studies in Australia, she is now able to apply best approaches and principles in the local context when formulating major development projects. The bridge construction project is one of the most ambitious projects Shaana has undertaken to date. The US$190 million project is one of the highest valued infrastructure projects in the Maldives, being implemented through grant and local financing. Other Australia Awards alumni with engineering and environmental management backgrounds are also leading or contributing expert knowledge to this pioneering project.

Shaana has recently been elected to the Executive Committee of the Maldives Australia Awards Alumni Association. She is looking forward to connecting with the many Association members who are positively contributing and making a lasting impact as leaders, contributors and change-makers in the development of the Maldives.

It is her belief that as the country moves through rapid social and infrastructure development, it will be beneficial in working towards sustainable development to follow current developments in Australia and transfer knowledge by maintaining professional and institutional links.

Australia Awards Scholarships are provided to build the skills and knowledge of individuals so they can contribute to their country’s development, and to support the ongoing development of links between Australia and the countries to which it provides aid. Scope Global manages Australia Awards South and West Asia on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ​