Statement by the Republic of Maldives

Social Development (Agenda Item 28)- Third Committee

United Nations, New York, 6 October 2015


As this is the first time the Maldives is taking the floor in this committee, I wish to offer sincere congratulations on your election to preside over the work of the Third Committee during this Session. We look forward to working with you and the Bureau and assure our full support towards ensuring a successful and productive session. Let me also thank the Secretary-General for the reports submitted under this agenda item.

The Maldives associates itself with the statement delivered by the delegation of South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

Mr. Chairman,

Over the past 15 years, efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal have substantially improved the lives of many. Like many other countries, through integration of the MDG's into our own national development strategies, the Maldives has been able to explore a path of development that is suited to our national context. Our unwavering commitment made the Maldives the only MDG+ country in South Asia, having achieved five goals, well ahead of the 2015 deadline.

The Maldives welcomes the recent adoption of Agenda 2030. We believe that the goals contained therein provide a universal and global agenda to achieve sustainable development, while attempting to balance social, economic and environmental concerns. The Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is committed to translating the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals into the domestic sphere through a strategically envisioned national mechanism.

Mr. Chairman,

We have come far in our pursuit to realizing the goals adopted at the World Summit for Social Development in February this year. The consensus achieved twenty years ago paved the way to shape the development path up to today. At the summit, in true spirit of the UN Charter principles, member states emphasized the importance of placing people at the center of development. Today, when we look back we know we have achieved much in our conquest to overcome poverty, in our pursuit of full employment and in fostering social integration.

The Maldives believes that people must remain at the heart of development. The national development programme devised by the Government of Maldives focusses on the empowerment of all, women, children, youth, persons with disabilities as well as the elderly.

Social development must begin with youth engagement. My delegation believes that empowering young people remains essential to achieving the developmental aspirations of any developing country. In fact, 46 percent of the Maldives' population constitutes of young people below the age of 25, making it all the more important for the Maldives to engage the youth in all aspects of development.

Empowerment of youth is, therefore, central to the economic and social agenda of the Maldivian government. Special emphasis has been given to skills development and job creation for the youth. In the past two years, more than 7,000 jobs have been created and several skills development programmes have been launched. The Government of Maldives, with the support from the United Nations Development Programme has launched its very first youth entrepreneurship programme – getset – targeted to open up entrepreneurship opportunities for Maldivian youth to innovatively take up these challenges. This year, Maldives has also ratified the Sports Bill, aimed at enhancing the development of individuals associating in the sports sector, and support the advancement of the Maldives National Institute of Sports, sports associations and clubs.

Gender equality and empowerment of women are vital to building transformative societies. It is the concrete foundation that is required to build stable societies and stronger communities. We know that providing young girls quality education has remarkable multiplying effects for families, societies and the world - for generations to come. Education is a powerful tool in empowering women and ensures youth can take control of their own future and unleash their true potential. In order to ensure the right to education and its equal access, the Government of Maldives offers free education up to higher secondary level.

The Maldives remains committed to the advancement of women's rights and gender equality both at home and at work. The 2008 Constitution of the Maldives guarantees the same rights and freedoms to both men and women and upholds the principles of non-discrimination and equality. The Employment Act of 2008, ensures that both men and women enjoy equal pay for equal work. Translating education into empowerment requires employment. It is for this reason that the current Government is giving high priority for ensuring economic opportunities for women. More recently introduced legislations - The Domestic Violence and Prevention Act, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Act, and the Sexual Offences Act - have further strengthened the legal framework to protect women, and young girls from violence and sexual abuse.

Mr. Chairman,

It is imperative to actively support vulnerable groups by empowering them and creating an enabling environment, allowing them to exercise their rights and responsibilities in order to be active members of their communities. The Constitution of the Maldives guarantees the full enjoyment of equal rights and fundamental freedoms to persons with disabilities. To further strengthen and ensure the provision of their rights, the Maldives enacted the Disability Act five years ago and the Provisions of Financial Assistance for Persons with Disabilities has been instrumental in guaranteeing the rights of this group.

To ensure no one is left behind, to guarantee full participation of all people regardless of their age, we need to provide an enabling environment to integrate the ageing population into the development process. Recognizing that elderly persons frequently face discrimination, are vulnerable and in need of help, the Maldives has embarked on policies that codifies protection and security to the elderly. The Pension Act of 2009 provides security for senior citizens through the establishment of an old-age retirement and pension scheme. The Universal Health Insurance scheme of the Government has enabled access to health care for all regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds and age.

Over the past decade, the Maldives has demonstrated remarkable progress in human development and has substantively contributed to the human development progress in the South Asian region. Amidst these achievements, inequalities continue to threaten human development progress for all. The Maldives remains committed to reduce the inequality gap through employment focused on vulnerable groups and education.

While we have made great strides in achieving social development, the vulnerabilities associated with climate change constraints our development. Women, children, youth and the elderly tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Building resilient societies through sustainable adaptation mechanisms to counter the effects of climate change will be fundamental to the survival and viability of SIDS like the Maldives.

Mr. Chairman,

The answer to accelerated social development lies in effective social protection measures, inclusive policy measures and equitable development. The Maldives remains unwavering in its efforts to realize a prosperous future for all. We reaffirm our commitment to continue our relentless efforts for an inclusive and holistic approach to development.

Thank you.