In this Women in National Security episode of the National Security Podcast Chris Farnham speaks to the Hon Mariya Didi, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Maldives, about strategic relations in the Indian Ocean, the impacts of climate change and the price of securing and sustaining democracy. Minister Didi was the Maldives’ first female lawyer and is the first and only female chairperson of a major political party in the country. She is internationally recognised as a champion of democracy and human rights.
Defence Minister Mariya Didi explains what drives the Maldives to look to its democratic neighbours, India and Sri Lanka, as the nation’s security partners and most important relationships. She talks of the impact of climate change on the island nation and tells us what it is like to live on and make policy for islands whose highest elevation is less than 5 metres above sea level as oceans rise. In a very candid and personal way, Minister Didi also details the struggle for democracy in the Maldives. She reflects on her experience of being ousted by the country’s security forces, only to return to government and command those very same forces as their Defence Minister. Minister Didi also provides insight into her leadership style, the pathway to reconciliation, and the sources of her personal courage and motivation.
Mariya Didi is the current Minister for Defence of the Republic of Maldives, a former Member of Parliament and a leading human rights activist in the country.
Chris Farnham is the presenter of the National Security Podcast. He joined the National Security College in June 2015 as Policy and Events Officer. His career focus has been on geopolitics with experience working in and out of China for a number of years as well as operating in Australia and Southeast Asia.