10-year-old girls making SDGs popular in Maldives
Most famous for its luxurious tourist destination, the Maldives has its own unique opportunities and challenges for the future. More than half the population is under the age of 25 and the islands are under threat of disappearing. Yet 10-year-old girls have their hopes and vision to make it better for the future generation.
The theme of the 2016 UNFPA's flagship State of the World Population Report is "How our future depends on a 10 year old girl at this decisive age". The report which was launched in Maldives on 13th November calls for the countries to invest on policies and institutions to build the human capital needed for the 21st century. In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with blueprints for 2030 targets leaving no one behind. This framework is the UN's agenda for the next 15 years.
In Maldives, under the theme "Nirakun", which means "sprouting", UNFPA invited 10-year-old girls to share their aspirations for the future. That is when Ahla heard about the Sustainable Development Goals for the first time. She chose Goal 5 as her favourite among the 17 Goals. "I want to play football but in my class, boys play football and girls play netball" says Ahla already highlighting the gender stereo typing and differential opportunities available for girls in her school. Lauha on Goal 14 highlighted the need to change what we put into the ocean and what we take out of there. "I want to tell people to not pollute the ocean, and have clean ups and so on to save the life below water. The ocean is the home for all the fishes and the coral and living things that exist underwater". Raya, selecting Goal 3 as her favourite emphasized the importance for the world to be a healthy place, everyday, for everyone to Be healthy, Be fit, and Be prepared. Ahla already knew if given opportunities girls can do as well as boys in everything they do.
Photos of Lauha (left) and Ahla (right)
More than 40 girls expressed their aspirations in the form of an art piece. The paintings depict a happy environment with lots of space and nature as the eminent theme, while others conveyed how they would want to become productive in future. Mishkath wishes to become a pilot and Raya wants to be a scientist for NASA. These young women are poised to become leaders and it is up to parents, communities and nations to pave the way for them.
Maldives can celebrate the global goals in 2030. That means the rights and potential of 10 year old girls must be fulfilled. In 15 years' time Ahla, Lauha and Mishkath along with 2500 girls in the Maldives will be 25 years old, surpassing adolescence and entering adulthood. Today, girls marry at 22 years and often have a child immediately after. Thooma wants to marry at 25 and have a small family. " What is needed is to be heard, the very important things comes from these 10 year old girls. Maldives having around 2563 10-year-old girls, what will happen in the next 14 years is very important. " said Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA Country Director, "the choices that is made when the girl is 10, will make the world a better place for all of them in future" he said.
Dunya Maumoon, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who herself is a mother to her 10 year old daughter congratulated the girls who very graciously shared their aspirations and called upon the government, NGOs and development partners to recommit themselves to ensure that the best education and health services are provided to all our girls, and to reach the targets well ahead of 2030.