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“I am a Peacebuilder”, Hoodh 25 years old

13 August 2018

I am from the south of Maldives. Like me, every year many young Maldivians leave their islands and move to Male’ city where they experience an abrupt disconnection from their islands’ sense of community, traditions and values, leading to feelings of alienation. At times, it feels as if there is no anchor to hold on.

We need to bring families together and empower them to live a dignified life. In the past 30 years more and more families moved to the capital, disconnected from their communities and increasingly disenfranchised. This marginalization and feelings of hopelessness to effect the society around us is the primary reason why youth are the prey of gangs’ crimes and violent extremism, this is the profile to recruit them. In the past we had a very harmonious society, Maldives used to be very welcoming and we want to revive that tradition through national unity and peace.

We need youth inclusion and young people’s participation in decision-making.

Young people need to be part of decision-making because we are the most significant and the largest part of the population. Inclusion is essential for the progress of the country. Inclusion, representation and active citizenship is going to be beneficial for the existing system as well as help solve the difficulties that young people are experiencing.

Violent extremism, gang violence and drug abuse are problems that we have to address in the Maldives. I am a peacebuilder working with youth to mediate conflicts and to build opportunities.

I have been very privileged and blessed in taking part of youth leadership events that helped in shaping my future. I have met a lot of young people who showed their passion for different cultures, their understanding, tolerance and mutual respect for people from different countries, different values and different religions. It is always my aim to teach what I learn and bring back knowledge and opportunities to my peers.

Youth participation was an eye opening experience for me.

I was 19 years old when I was the Founding President of Dhi Youth Movement (DYM), I wanted to be part of a positive youth culture. Then in 2013 I started working with Junior Chamber International Maldives (JCIM), which is a more policy level organization focused on creating new platforms for Maldivian youth engagement in policy. For example “Youth to Leaders Forum” is a platform for young people to be heard and make elected officials and government representatives accountable.

At the 2017 Youth to Leaders Forum we focused on a discussion about Sexual and Reproductive Health. It was an important milestone bringing the Minister of State for Health, UNFPA and civil society stakeholders together to publicly agree that sexual and reproductive health education in schools need to be more comprehensive.

In 2017, I founded the Youth, Peace and Security National Consultation. One of the key findings we identified was that we as youth feel very anxious about employment, young people are looking for employment not only to make a living but also in order to give our positive contribution to the country. Outside of school and unable to join the labor force to earn a meaningful wage, gang violence and drug abuse are becoming the alternatives. The solutions proposed by the participants of the national consultation consisted of creating an online opportunity hub and knowledge transfer through a Dhivehi Wikimedia page as a huge archive for Dhivehi articles.

My dream is to help creating a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Everyone is welcome to join organizations such as JCI Maldives, join us and we will welcome you with open arms. We have created platforms such as the Youth Advocacy Union aiming at bringing more inclusion and opportunities to young people from all islands across Maldives.

If you see a problem in your community, in our society, and you want to bring change believe in yourself. All you need to do is to find the key partners. At JCI Maldives we are willing to work with you and I am sure that there are many national stakeholders that cannot wait to hear from you. So give us a shout through our Facebook page, let’s work together!

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Recognizing the potential of young people of the country as agents of change within their communities, Junior Chamber International Kaafu (Maldives) in affiliation with UNFPA Maldives conducted a workshop titled “Youth Peace and Security (YPS) National Consultation”, which encouraged youth participation to meaningfully help resolve disputes and advocate towards peace.

The consultation was mainly focused on discussions pertaining to civic engagement, religious extremism as well as educating participants on key issues such as domestic violence. One of the main objectives of this consultation was to identify ways to increase the participation of young people in policy making and equip them with some of the necessary skills.

Approximately half the population of Maldives is currently comprised of individuals under the age of 25, which makes educating and investing in these individuals an indispensable component for achieving nationwide progress. The youth of the country are in a position to bring vital change but are faced with several constraints that prevent them from progressing and reaching their full potential, such as including lack of easy access to sexual health services, high rates of domestic violence as well as gender inequalities, and low levels of civic engagement.

Text & Photos ©Tatiana Almeida/UNFPA Maldives