Interviews

Empowerment for All

UNDP Resident Coordinator Ms Shoko Noda / Maldeeb Photo: Hucen Sayd

To withstand crisis, and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone, is of utmost importance for a nation. Developing nations like the Maldives face various challenges in achieving this – and that’s where UNDP comes in handy! UNDP partners with people at every level of society to work together towards such goals.

UNDP Maldives has already achieved a lot of goals, and is tirelessly workings towards creating a better society for everyone. Maldeeb had the opportunity to catch up with UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to the Maldives, Ms. Shoko Noda – a portion of the interview is included below.

What is the key focus of UN Maldives, for this year?

UN has a five year development assistance framework, and the focuses are on Children, Gender, Environment & Climate Change as well as Governance. We work on a national level, as well as a communal level; to make sure that people’s voices are heard, and to specially focus on women and youth.

Could you tell us a little about the collaborative work conducted by UN Maldives along with local relevant authorities in this area?

We are working very closely with the national government as well as the independent institutions, Island and Atoll Councils, and most importantly civil society. I think that’s the strengths of UN, that we are able to reach up to different levels of society, to ensure that people’s voices are heard in their own development work.

UN Maldives works a lot in environment related projects in Maldives; some of these include working with local communities. How is such works progressing? What is your main environment related project being conducted in Maldives at present?

As UN, we started working in the area of environment protection since the 90’s. So it’s been quite some time that we are working, especially UNDP is spearheading UNs efforts. There are many different success, but I would say our biggest success is to work at the community level to make sure that the communities are becoming much more resilient to the worsening climate change. We also work with different civil societies for waste management – that has to come from the communities as well. Also for the next 3-4 years we will be working on a water management project, expanding the existing integrated water resource management system in different islands and also enhancing the rain water harvesting system.

The sustainable development goals, what is the prospect for Maldives to do as well as it did in achieving the MDGs look? How does the UN hope to assist in this area?

I think Maldives has made an impressive progress when it came to MDGs. Maldives has achieved 5 out of 8 goals of MDGs. I think there are a lot of good lessons to be learnt from how we have achieved MDGs and that needs to be applied to the SDGs too. UN is working very closely with the Ministry of Environment, which has the SDG Unit.

What kind of activities are being conducted by UN Maldives to empower women and change the way society perceives women?

In terms of gender, there are three components. One is political empowerment of women; women’s access to justice and gender based violence. These are the three main areas that need to identified, especially the political empowerment of women is critical – currently only 6% is representation by women, that means that 50% of the population’s views is not fully reflected in policy making. So we would like to make the policy making process more inclusive.

Even in her busy schedule, Ms. Shoko Noda finds time to keep up with her hobbies and get in touch with the beauty of Maldives. She enjoys scuba diving a lot – something she has been doing for quite a long time. Moreover, photos of her dressed in traditional and national Maldivian dresses have held the attention of many – and in her words, she wants to be recognized and welcomed as part of the Maldivian society.

Having taken office in Maldives in 2014, the Maldivian lifestyle has today become an essential part of her life. From Maldivian short eats to beauty and the team at UN Maldives, she enjoys every bit of her time here. She has indeed showcased great work so far, and we hope for even better projects in the future.

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