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The Maldivian government hopes to pass a crucial youth bill encompassing all areas related to young people in the coming months, Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Maleeh Jamal announced at a recent regional youth consultation meeting held in Male'. As the Minister puts it, the key legislation essential to the efforts of Youth Ministry and partners aims to ensure that the rights of young Maldivians are protected by law.

Speaking at the regional consultation meeting to review and finalize the SAARC Youth Charter held in Maldives from 13-14 May 2014, the Minister said that the Maldivian government is also hoping to get the National Youth Health Strategy endorsed by the cabinet in the coming few weeks. Once adopted, the strategy drafted by the ministry in partnership with UNFPA will provide a coordinated approach to address youth health issues.

UNFPA is currently partnering with the Ministry of Health to develop the National Standards for provision of youth health services and supporting the Ministry of Education to integrate Life Skills Education including pertinent adolescent health issues in the school curriculum.

"Currently, the youth cohort forms 30 percent of our population and lack of youth-friendly services are a problem cited by many young people. Endorsement of a Youth Health Strategy is proof of the commitment of the Government of Maldives to prioritizing adolescents and youth in our respective national and regional development agendas as a stepping stone to ensuring sustained development and growth of our region," said Mr. Maleeh Jamal.

"Investing in the youth is investing in the future. They are the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow. They are the ones to shape the destiny of our region and the world in the coming years. We need to ensure their active participation and ensure that their voices are heard," Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Dunya Maumoon noted in her address at the regional consultation meeting.

During the regional consultation, representatives from governments of SAARC countries reviewed the SAARC Youth Charter and identified key priorities for the SAARC Youth Action Plan. The meeting obtained consensus on the Youth Charter and planned specific actions for cooperation in the region for 2014-2017.

The SAARC Youth Charter focuses on 5 key areas of action, including, Enabling Environment, Gender Equality, Education, Employment and Health. It also provides a foundation for the development of robust national policies and plans for youth.