Walk it like you talk it - #withyouth

Date: 29/12/2016

“Nirakun” meaning “sprouting” in English depicts the start of adolescence. Coinciding with the initial year of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, the Nirakun project aimed at tracking stories from 10-year-olds now and every five years subsequently so that UN will be able to measure the progress towards achievement of the relevant SDG indicators.

Around 40 girls came forward and shared their aspirations in the form of a painting. While painting, they shared with us about how they would like to see their future. Some girls shared personal stories of when they would like to get married and how many kids they would have. For most, it was the first time they had heard of the SDGs.

A few weeks after the global launch, on 13th November 10 year-old girls, their parents together with the media gathered at the newly opened Goatfish restaurant in the capital Male. Typically, the media events such as the release of the State of the World Population Report would take place at a hotel or a meeting room, in other words a formal environment. Instead UNFPA Maldives took the initiative to do the launch differently. The Goatfish restaurant is a truly youth run restaurant, different to other restaurants in Male with its rustic décor. The paintings by the girls were displayed in between the old kitchen utensils including knives hung on the walls.

Photo:  Participants at the Goatfish Café and Bistro

Three of the 10-year-old girls poured their heartwarming dreams in a chat moderated by Mr. Sibenaler. Lauha said, “If we throw rubbish in the sea, the fish gets sick and we eat the fish and we get sick”. Raya on Goal 3 said that “Everyone needs to Be healthy, Be fit, and Be prepared”, the 3 B’s as Raya calls it.

Photo: From Left: Thooma, Ahla, Raya and Lauha

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon’s presence was key at the event as a mother of a 10-year-old girl and as the one who led deliberations and signed onto  the SDG for Maldives. At the end, the event was very successful. With many of the invitees complementing the different approach taken by UNFPA Maldives. One participant said it was the best UN organized event he has been to in years. Another government colleague said that this is the way we should be working touching people's hearts. Furthermore this is the first time, the official report summary was translated into Dhivehi and shared with the media including the videos.

Photo: The young people; from left, Maaziya Haleem, Zulaikha Shihab and Aishath Imthaau

The Nirakun project demonstrated that UNFPA can be the example to empower young people exemplifying how to not only talk the talk, but walk the talk  as well #withyouth. “Working with UNFPA has been an unbelievably amazing experience. Being a young person, it’s not easy to get opportunities to be heard. However, UNFPA has made it possible. It has made me more confident and empowered. All agencies and businesses should work with young people, because we are enthusiastic and full of fresh and new ideas.” said Aishath Imthaau, the 19 year old UNFPA intern who successfully pulled off the Nirakun project. Launching the report does not stop here, UNFPA will continue to work with these young girls to raise awareness on SDGs in schools and help to advocate with the government to empower, educate and employ girls as young as 10 years for the realization of SDGs in 2030.