News

“People are trying to keep their daughters inside”, Hasna 24 years old

14 August 2018

I come from Addu, the southernmost island of Maldives, which is also the second largest populated Atoll after Male’. We live a very simple life and we don’t have the same opportunities as people who live in Male’ do, that is especially true when it comes to finding a job or practicing sports.

I have a passion for sports, I have always had.

Rowing isn’t an easy sport but I want to improve and to be really good at it. In Maldives it is actually difficult to pursue that sport, any sport for that matter, there are always limits for girls. I think I went as far as one could go, now I would like to go abroad where there are more opportunities.

When I was 20, before heading to India for my studies, I thought that in five years’ time I would have got my degree, found a better paid job and would have a better exposure in sports. And here I am. It’s true that I am still rowing, that I have gone to two competitions so far - in South Korea and China - but I am still working for my uncle as I was back then. It’s hard to say what I am going to be doing in 10 years from now but I am hoping that I will be doing much better, maybe I would have travelled and found a job abroad.

People are trying to keep their daughters inside.

Maldives evolved in many ways but people are still trying to keep their daughters inside. Is the family willing to send the girl to Male’? Mostly they don’t send girls to study and work simply because they are girls.

I was offered a job in Male’, and my parents agreed to it, but then they advised me to stay in Addu. They said that I wouldn’t be able to save much money in Male’. But if I would have put my foot to it, I would have moved to Male’.

There are girls who don’t want to go out in the sun because people will call them 'dark' if they get tanned. Comments as such prevent girls from doing things they enjoy. I tell my sisters to come out of that shell and to be open minded.

You cannot limit yourself.

You must have a say in what your life is going to be. Sometimes as a girl your opinion is not taken into account, but I want to speak up my mind, even if I am a girl. I feel the pressure to get married and have children. Since I turned 24 I am being told that as a girl I need to marry but I feel that I haven’t found myself yet.

How would I start a family and bring children into a life that I cannot live myself?

I have only two girl friends who are still single, our friends ask all the time when are we going to tie the knot. You can just say that you don’t want to get married…ever. I mean, I say that all the time!

I really hope that there will be better opportunities for girls in the future because there are so many girls who would love to do sports, show their talents internationally and actually achieve something meaningful in life.

***

In 2015 the world made an unprecedented commitment to people, prosperity and the planet. The historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, endorsed by over 150 world leaders, aims to end all forms of poverty and discrimination. It seeks to transform how we live, where all people enjoy rights and dignity.

UNFPA is already playing a leadership role on Goals related to poverty, health, education and gender equality. Attaining the Goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health services supports the freedom of every girl and woman to seek an education, find decent work and contribute even more to her family, community and nation.

Text & Photos ©Tatiana Almeida/UNFPA Maldives