Thank you Mr Chairman for giving me the floor,
At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Child and Youth Finance International, the UN Global Compact, the UN Special Envoy on Youth, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, UNCDF, and UNICEF, and all others for their collective work in organizing this important event. I am grateful to the organizers for inviting me to share our thoughts with you on behalf of the Government of Maldives.
Financial inclusion and education are vital, not only for providing children and youth with the means for attaining a dignified and productive livelihood, but also for promoting sustainable development for our society as a whole.
The youth of today represent the biggest generation of youth in human history. There are over 1.2 billion youth today. In the Maldives, we understand the importance of education for children and youth, especially since young people comprise forty-four percent of our population. Youth-oriented programmes and policies are a cornerstone of the Government’s priorities, encapsulated in the slogan “Youth, Economy, Hope” which spells out the focus of the Government on empowering youth. We are pleased to have made universal access to primary education a reality for the children of the Maldives, but we are still committed to continually improving and expanding our secondary- and higher-education system. We recognize the difficulty of finding gainful employment without a proper education, so we have policies aimed at combatting unemployment by focusing on expanding educational opportunities, including greater access to higher secondary, undergraduate level, graduate level and vocational education programmes. In addition to this, the Maldives has launched an apprenticeship programme where students who are in their final year are placed with private companies.
Provision of services to the youth is a high priority of the Government of Maldives. Affordable housing, skill building, creating meaningful employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, recreational facilities, and space for participation in the development of the country are features of the new initiative.
The Government of Maldives in the recent past has also formulated a number of programmes that identify, support and empower vulnerable groups in the society, including children and youth. Under an umbrella programme of ‘No child is left behind’ policy, high-risk children are provided with necessary support and care in order to ensure that all children reach their full potential. The potential loss of both social and economic productivity of young people of Maldives remains a key challenge to the development of the country.
The programmes designed by the Government of Maldives on children and youth are aimed at instilling in them the spirit of entrepreneurship that will help drive our small economy over the next couple of decades. Our population is young. And this youthful spirit is what is exactly needed to drive the economy as the Maldives faces the world as a Middle Income Country. One particular programme that is currently implemented is the State providing small and medium business loans that have given form and substance to the aspirations for many young people.
Additionally, the Government of Maldives has supported international and regional efforts to make young people an important part of the policy framework. Just recently, Maldives hosted the Regional Consultative Meeting to finalise the SAARC Youth Charter and Action Plan. This Charter focuses on key areas: Enabling Environment, Gender Equality, Educations and Skills Development, Employment and Health, providing a sound foundation for the South Asian nations to provide exemplary youth-oriented development policies.
A comprehensive Post-2015 agenda must embrace the social and financial inclusion of children and youth, in order to fully address issues of inequality and long-term sustainable development. In this regard, we support CYFI’s goals of ensuring basic access to financial services, and we also affirm that education should play a crucial role in fostering employability and entrepreneurship for our children and youth.
We especially appreciate the approach that CYFI has taken in shaping this particular event, by reaching out directly to the children and youth of the world for their input. By including youth delegates in this process, CYFI demonstrates its genuine commitment to promoting the full inclusion of youth in shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Through this process, CYFI has taken a valuable step in encouraging youth to make their voices heard and to take part in shaping their own futures.
The challenges that lie ahead are surely complex. The Maldives is committed to working with the international community in promoting the Post-2015 Development Agenda, with special emphasis on policies affecting the children and youth of the world. Investing in the youth is investing in the future. Moving forward, we will continue to implement policies that protect youth rights, and we will also strive to promote the financial inclusion and education of our children and youth in our long-term approach to sustainable development. We will ensure that the voices of young people are heard and their participation ensured. Let us together; invest in the future of the world.