Agenda Item 26: Social Development
Statement by the Republic of Maldives
4 October 2016
United Nations, New York, 2016
As this is the first time that the Maldives is taking the floor in this Committee, I extend my sincere congratulations on your election to preside over the Third Committee during this session. We look forward to working with you and assure you my delegation's full support in working to make this session an effective and successful one. We also take note of the reports submitted by the Secretary General under this agenda item for our consideration.
The core aspiration of the 2030 Agenda is social inclusion; to leave no one behind and to endeavour to reach the furthest behind first, and this pledge remains at the heart of our efforts. 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.
We believe that education and health are necessary to enable people to acquire the skills and capabilities needed to fully participate and contribute in all dimensions of life. This is why the Government of Maldives introduced a universal health insurance scheme across the country – because health service should not be a privilege for some, but because it is a right for all. We apply the same policy when it comes to education. The Government provides equal access to education for all children because we believe that education is a right that should not be denied to any child. In the Maldives free education is provided to all children up to higher secondary level.
The world's young people today make up the largest generation of youth ever recorded in history. In the Maldives, youth make up 47% of the population. In an effort to tap into their pool of talent and potential, the Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has launched a special youth manifesto. It emphasises plans to encourage youth development by increasing higher education opportunities, building entertainment and sports facilities, providing rehabilitation facilities and reintegration opportunities for drug users and by providing funding for youth entrepreneurship.
The annual youth entrepreneurship programme known as 'Getset' has fulfilled the dreams of young Maldivians to overcome challenges and succeed in establishing new entrepreneurships while the yearly 'youth challenge' career exposition provides avenues for career development and job opportunities for thousands.
We cannot talk about those vulnerable and disadvantaged in society without talking about the inequality faced by women every single day. Gender equality and empowerment of women are vital requirements for a prosperous society. The Maldives has continued its efforts to ensure that women are given their rights in all spheres of society. Legal structures that promote equal opportunities and equal outcomes for women are therefore given a special priority. The Employment Act ensures that women enjoy equal pay and prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on gender. The Domestic Violence and Prevention Act, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Act and the Sexual Offences Act together provide legal protection for women against gender based and sexual violence. The recently enacted Gender Equality Act, which is a key milestone in promoting gender equality and human rights for all ensures equal opportunities for both women and men.
The Government of Maldives recognises the importance of creating a conducive environment for the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development. The Constitution of the Maldives guarantees the full enjoyment of equal rights and fundamental freedoms to persons with disabilities. The Act on the Protection of Disabled Persons has also enhanced the protection and enforced the rights afforded to persons with disabilities. It represents the Government's commitment to ensure rights and protection of people with disabilities, and has paved way for a more inclusive and equal society. Building on the progress of these laws, the Government has also placed further measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have special access to financial assistance and job opportunities. The National Social Protection Agency created under this Act also provides a 'Disability Allowance' for persons with disabilities in an effort to enhance their financial abilities.
While progressive steps have been taken in human development, the Maldives remains constrained by the threats of climate change and environmental degradation. These impacts exacerbate existing development challenges and disproportionately affect the vulnerable population. As such, in the Maldives, risks of climate change are considered and assessed from a social vulnerability lens. We believe that is vital to integrate climate change adaptation policies into social development goals.
A successful society is one in which each member of the community is empowered to participate in the development of that society. The Maldives remains committed to continuing our dedicated efforts to ensure that all Maldivians are granted their rights to live in an inclusive and equal society with dignity and social cohesion.
Thank you Madam Chair.