Maldives First Couple joins UNICEF and partners to launch positive parenting programme

The programme aims to empower parents with positive parent skills to help support their children’s growth more effectively

Usia Nkhoma Ledama
President of the Maldives, the First Lady, Ministers for Education and Gender, UNICEF Representative and parents posing for a photo
Office of the President / 2022
09 June 2022

On June 1st, 2022, UNICEF Maldives in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services launched the Joint Positive Parenting Programme (JPPP) at an event graced by the President of Maldives, H. E. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the First Lady Madam Fazna Ahmed, signifying a strong indication of their commitment to champion child rights and the positive parenting agenda.  It just so happens that the day coincided with the birthday of the First Couple’s first-born child. 

The positive parenting programme, led by the Ministry of Education and steered by a multi-sectoral working group, in collaboration with UNICEF, aims to empower parents with positive parenting skills so that they can support their children’s growth more effectively from their early years of life through adolescence and help them to attain their full potential and fulfil their dreams and aspirations. 

“It takes a village to raise a child,” quoted First Lady Fazna Ahmed at the launch, signifying the role of extended family members and the community. She also commended UNICEF for their technical support to the government in developing the programme and for prioritizing parenting as a flagship in the new Country Programme (2022-2026).

Today’s parents are faced with many questions from vaccination to nutrition; to online safety; ensuring their continued learning and how to guide their adolescent girls and boys to navigate the uncertainties of this century. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated challenges. Thanks to this new programme, parents will be empowered with skills and tools to be closer to their children, and promote child growth and development, create a safe environment both at home and beyond for children and adolescent girls and boys, including those living with disabilities. 

“Parenting is a learning process. It is about identifying children’s changes and their emotions. As a parent, I consider every moment as an opportunity to learn about them and from them,” added the first lady who has also accepted to be the champion and spokesperson of the Positive Parenting Agenda in the country. 

In the Maldives, children face numerous risk factors. Drug abuse and gang violence are particular concerns for boys, while girls, on the other side, face further challenges such as exposure to sexual violence and transition from education to employment. The threats of climate change as an existential threat to the low-lying islands also affect the mental health and well-being of children.

Data shows that 48% of drug users in the Maldives are between 15-19 years of age and most start using drugs at the age of 13 -16 years. Further, 30.1% of children between 13-15 years and 23.1% of children between 16-17 years experienced bullying in schools. The advent of the pandemic brought to the fore the importance of addressing mental health, an issue that is recognized as a priority of priorities by the Government of Maldives. 

In 2022, working closely with national partners, UNICEF Maldives will mobilize partnerships at the central and island level to implement a Knowledge Attitude and Practice survey and assessment, a series of consultations with parents, including those most vulnerable, and participate in the design of a human-centred national behavioural change strategy to address social norms that hinder positive parenting.