4 October 2016, New York; “In the Maldives, efforts are being made to encourage participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities in the community to ensure an inclusive and equitable society”, stressed the Maldives delegation at the United Nations General Assembly debate on Social Development. Ms. Farzana Zahir, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while speaking at the Third Committee of the 71st session, noted that social inclusion being the core aspiration of the 2030 Agenda, “this pledge remains at the heart of our efforts”.
The statement emphasized the importance of education and health to enable people to acquire the skills and capabilities needed to fully participate and contribute in all dimensions of life. Within this regard, it noted that the Maldives’ had introduced a universal health insurance scheme and to provide free education for all children up to higher secondary level. Further, the statement highlighted the Government’s efforts to create a conducive environment for the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.
The Maldives also underscored its policies to increase higher education opportunities, building entertainment and sports facilities, providing rehabilitation facilities and reintegration opportunities for drug users as well as through funding for youth entrepreneurship, in an effort to tap into the pool of talent and potential of the youth, which comprises 47% of the national populace.
In its statement, the Maldives further underlined its efforts towards ensuring that “women are given their rights in all spheres of society”. It noted the legal structures that promote equal opportunities and equal outcomes for women and the legislations enacted to provide legal protection for women against gender based and sexual violence. In particular, the statement highlighted the recently enacted Gender Equality Act, as a milestone in promoting gender equality and human rights for all ensuring “equal opportunities for both women and men, and equal conditions to pursue opportunities”.
Noting that climate change disproportionately affects the vulnerable population of small states such as the Maldives, the Maldives also called upon the international community to integrate climate change adaptation policies into social development goals.