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Past Experience

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is the world's largest agency for population development, with programmes in over 140 countries. UNFPA is also the UN’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, which empowers people, especially young women and girls, adolescents and the elderly – to manage their own lives and ensure right to bodily autonomy. It is a core mandate of UNFPA to ensure that all individuals make informed decisions in their life, to contribute meaningfully to society and to the progress of the population without leaving anyone behind.

UNFPA helps women, men and young people plan their families and avoid undesired pregnancies; undergo pregnancy and childbirth safely; avoid sexually transmitted infections - including HIV/AIDS; combat discrimination and violence against women and formulate population policies and strategies in support of sustainable development.

UNFPA's role in the Maldives expanded dramatically in the early 1980s with the launching of national programmes on family planning and population. During this period, priority was given to develop national capacity in the area of expertise and institutional structure. To assist this process, a series of projects was implemented throughout the 1980s while expanding the involvement of relevant agencies and professions.

In the first decades of UNFPA's engagement in the Maldives, the projects were formulated by the UNFPA Field Office in Sri Lanka and implemented under the supervision of UNDP Country Office in Male'. A separate field office for UNFPA Maldives was established in 1994 and the first UNFPA Country Programme introduced in the same year. Since 1994, six Country Programmes have been implemented in the Maldives.

Aligned with the UNFPA Strategic Plan 2022-2025, UNFPA will support to achieving the Three Transformative Results :ending unmet need for Family Planning, ending maternal deaths and ending Gender Based Violence or other harmful norms in the society such as FGM and Child Marriage - UNFPA is actively working to deliver on these promises which also align with the new agency strategic plan.

7th Country Programme - 2022-2026

The new era of development ushered in by the 7th Country Programme (CP7) stems from the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), whilst UNFPA commitment is evidenced in its leadership to specifically support women and girls in this new cycle. 

The country office will prioritize two out of the three transformative results in addressing unmet need for family planning as well as reduction in gender based violence (GBV) and other harmful practices against women and girls via a robust social norm change strategy.  

In order to implement the ambitious programme UNFPA is partnering with key government agencies, academia, civil society organizations and private enterprises to accelerate progress. The programme focuses on the following key outputs for transformative results - 

Output 1: Strengthened national capacity for planning, implementation and monitoring of evidence-based comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning, focusing on those furthest behind

Output 2: Strengthened institutional capacity to develop life skills education and to create opportunities for adolescents and youth, including those with disabilities and residing in outer islands, to ensure their leadership and meaningful participation in decision making for issues that affect their development and overall well-being.

Output 3: Strengthened national capacity for a coordinated multi-sectoral approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and harmful practices, to change discriminatory social norms, and to promote gender equality.

Output 4: Strengthened national capacity to generate, analyze and use evidence for formulation of inclusive, gender-transformative, resilient and adaptive development policies addressing Maldives’ demographic transition and climate threats.

6th Country Programme of assistance – 2016-2021 

The sixth Country Programme (CP) by UNFPA, commenced at a pivotal stage with the roll-out of the Sustainable Development goals: ushering in a new era of hope and commitment to human rights and youth empowerment.  It also marked the first time the CP also suited the country as a middle-income ‘Pink’ status country with good finances and strong performances on key indicators. This proved to be a paradigm shift in UNFPA’s relevance, assistance to the country, and engagement with the government. The programme had a heavy focus on rolling out knowledge on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. In order to increase access to SRH information for young people, the mobile application Siththaa was developed jointly with the Society for Health Education in 2016, and in 2018 was updated to improve the reach out to more young people and those residing outside Male’. This is the first youth-friendly digital platform that democratized SRH information, and provided the right knowledge to young people on CSE.

In terms of realization of universal access to reproductive health and rights for all, UNFPA initiated the development of the reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) Strategy in 2020. Since its development UNFPA continued its advocacy efforts with the government for its endorsement. In 2021, the comprehensive RMNCAH strategy and action plan was finalized and endorsed by the Minister of Health. This is the first time the reproductive health services, including family planning, have been reflected in a national strategy through a lifecycle approach. This directly contributes to the results on closing gaps in family planning needs. 

The signature project Cupvert - linking environment, climate change and sexual reproductive health to educate and create awareness on menstrual health and ecofriendly menstrual management options was also piloted with Zero Waste Maldives (NGO). It provided the revolutionary use of menstrual cups - which not only help manage solid waste production, but also are biodegradable, safe and easy to use. Additionally,  For the first time UNFPA supported an interactive high level panel discussion platform with policy makers, experts, young people and NGOs to mark the menstrual hygiene day. The first lady of Maldives was among the panelists and highlighted the importance of menstrual hygiene and more open dialogues on issues related to SRH on the road to breaking the taboo - linking the climate dialogue within the sexual and reprodecutive health services enabling more young people to engage with such discussions openly.

In terms of population development UNFPA along with the National Bureau of Statistics conducted the first ever National Transfer Accounts to identify how the  resources are consumed, produced and reallocated among people of different age groups in the population. We use the NTA to describe the economic life cycle in Maldives, and to provide projections of the likely trajectories of several aggregate accounts in the economy.The NTA provided useful insight into the population spending and projections; from increase burden on the state to provide care for an aging population, to capturing the first ever demographic dividend of young population in the country. 

Fifth Country Programme 2011-2015

The fifth Country Programme has three main components: (1) reproductive health, (ii) gender equality, and (iii) population and development. As the cornerstone of the country programme, the reproductive health component strives to promote universal access to high quality sexual and reproductive health services such as family planning and safe motherhood. The focus is to promote the right of every individual to lead a healthy sexual and reproductive life free of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Technical guidance, policy advice, training and support is provided through working with national partners and the civil society. Establishment of the first-ever cervical cancer screening programme in Maldives, support to draft National Reproductive Health Strategy, study on reproductive health knowledge and behavior of young unmarried women in the Maldives and the integration of life skills education into the national curricula are key initiatives in this area.

To combat violence against women. UNFPA has played a key advocacy role in partnership with civil society to establish the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act 2012. UNFPA has continued to provide support to the Government to roll out the Act, especially to strengthen health sector response to gender-based violence.

In the area of population and development, UNFPA helps build evidence to support eradication of poverty and plan for sustainable development by providing technical assistance to the Government including support to Demographic and Health Survey and the 2014 Census.

Fourth Country Programme 2008-2010

The fourth Country Programme conformed to the policies and strategies identified in the seventh national development plan and built on the experience from earlier country programmes as well as the tsunami recovery programme. The country programme recognized the reproductive rights of women, men and young people, especially of vulnerable populations, as well as the linkages between reproductive rights and the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Millennium Development Goals. The programme reflected the new strategic direction of UNFPA and takes into account the comparative advantages of UNFPA as well as the interventions planned by other development partners.

The programme had two components: (a) reproductive health; and (b) gender.
The expected outcome of the reproductive health component was improved utilization of high quality reproductive health information and services for women and men, particularly those most vulnerable and the gender component was improved fulfilment of the rights of women and girls. While gender and rights are integrated in all areas of the country programme, this outcome contributes to the UNDAF outcome on governance by promoting women's empowerment, equitable participation and access to rights.

Third Country Programme 2003-2007

The third UNFPA County Programme for the Maldives aimed to contribute to the national goal of improving the quality of life of the Maldivian people through improved reproductive health status and the empowerment of women. The programme was results-oriented and emphasized capacity building and partnerships.

In reproductive health, UNFPA strengthened management of the national reproductive health programme at central level and in selected regions. This was achieved through policy development and managerial and technical capacity-building. UNFPA worked for increased availability of high quality reproductive health services and information in selected regions and atolls. A comprehensive approach to improving services and information in selected islands was taken. Behaviour change communication efforts focused on increasing the utilization of contraceptives, particularly male methods, such as condoms.

In population and development, UNFPA contributed to improved intersectoral coordination and increased political and community support for population and development and gender equality. 

Assistance was provided for policy-relevant research studies and for the utilization of gender-disaggregated information. Particular attention was given to sociocultural and operations research.

UNFPA increased support for community-based initiatives for women's empowerment in selected regions and atolls. UNFPA worked to strengthen the role of the mass media in advocating gender equality and male involvement.

Second Country Programme 1998-2002

The UNFPA Second Country Programme aimed at promoting the well being of the people by focusing on three strategic areas; (a) improving reproductive health status; (b) mobilising support for population and RH issues at all levels of society; and (c) improving the status of women. The programme also supported national capacity development and other cross-cutting issues including gender.

The programme objectives were addressed through 4 sub-programmes; (a) Population and Development Strategies, (b) Reproductive Health Services, (c) Advocacy, and (d) Empowerment of Women. The programme contributed significantly to capacity building and institutional development.

First Country Programme 1994-1997

UNFPA's first Country Programme aimed at addressing three key priority issues: (a) the dire lack of qualified maternal and child health and family planning (MCH/FP) personnel and the inadequate access to quality services; (b) the lack of a national population IEC strategy and the limited knowledge of population issues; and (c) the low contraceptive prevalence rate and the concomitant high fertility rate in the Maldives.

UNFPA worked to increase and improve human resources in the provision of family planning services, especially in training female community health workers and traditional birth attendants. A major goal was to extend family planning services to all 200 inhabited islands. UNFPA advocated to include population IEC campaigns in national radio programming and to incorporate population into the formal school system where it would reach many of the targeted adolescent girls. Among other things, information on AIDS prevention as well as on environmental and women's concerns was incorporated into all IEC activities. The first Country Programme also provided support for the formulation of a much needed population policy.