News

Bold Action for Bold Girls with Bold Dreams

Date: 14/05/2017

#BeBoldForChange

In Maldives, the proportion of women in policy making is low and young people’s voices are rarely recognized. A few young women in the Maldives have been fortunate to excel in male-dominant professions, but this is not the norm, and not everyone has the same opportunity to realise their childhood dreams. It is common for women and girls to take up stereotypical professions and work from home. But this is not always the vision they had for their future.

UNFPA Maldives is working with girls as young as 10 years to ensure that every girl has the opportunity to realise their dreams and achieve their potential. Nirakun - the project which began in 2016, the first year of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, to document and advocate for the opportunities for young girls to reach their dreams and aspirations.


Nirakun Girls (From left): Lauha, Malaki, Raya, Ibaa, Feyna & Ahla. These girls will be 25 in 2030.

“I have confidence that if I get the opportunity to study what I love, I will be successful in my career”. - Shamma, 10 years.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March)  the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Maldives facilitated a platform where these young girls received the opportunity to reach the Minister of Education by delivering letters written by the girls. Their dreams, aspirations, and visions for the future were expressed in the personal letters. Thus, this opportunity, which was the first of its kind, was immensely important.

The Nirakun girls have big dreams to become veterinarians, NASA scientists, botanists, chefs, military doctors, and mathematicians. The girls are determined to achieve their goals, but also aware that they cannot do it on their own and call on the Minister and policy makers at large to ensure they have a future where they are empowered, educated, and employed.

“In order to fulfill this dream of mine and the dreams of others, we need to have systems and arrangements within our schools and other such places that will help us develop our skills. I need your help and support through my journey” - Ahla, 11 years.

While some girls acknowledged that they were interested in male dominated fields, they asked the minister to facilitate opening up opportunities for girls in STEM and better equipped school facilities in science.


Minister of Education, Dr Aishath Shiham, receives letters from girls at a event held at the ministry.


“Minister, the young people of this country are in dire need of new opportunities… to achieve our dreams, we need to be given the opportunities to enhance our skills”. - Malaki, 11 years.

Another letter written by a young woman, expressed the hardships she faced growing up and her hope that other girls do not have to face the same difficulties. Many young people grow up and start their families without having proper information.

“I had to learn the hard way, to accept my body, to love it and to not be scared by every little thing I had to google in the middle of the night as a teenager. I had to learn the hard way, to make other people respect that my body was my body, that something's about it were not under my control, that when I said no, it meant no and not a yes, because my body was never a possession to be claimed.” - Hannan 19 years.

Furthermore, Hannan was advocating for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education in schools.

“Education is what will give our girls the wings to fly out of the oppression they were born into. I had to learn the hard way, and I'm writing this letter hoping that others don't have to.”



Minister of Education, Dr Aishath Shiham speaks at the Women's day event partnered with UNFPA Maldives.

Speaking to the girls on Women’s Day, the Minister of Education, Dr Aishath Shiham, said that the government policy is to leave no one behind and that life skills education is a priority subject. The Minister further stressed the importance of breaking stereotypes regarding girls and work and vowed to open up opportunities for girls in non-stereotypical fields.