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South Asian Youth Festival 2020: Session on Taking Charge of our Future

Introduction of SAYF 2020

South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized to gather youths from South Asian Countries, connect with them, share and learn their perspective, and develop a strong bond. The 3- weeks-long program is organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till the 3rd of September. The festival is organized in collaboration with various South Asian organizations like UNICEF- ROSA; UNESCO; A2I, Cabinet Division, Bangladesh, UNDP; National Youth Council Nepal; CYDA, India; CYN, Sri Lanka; Pinnacle Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives; Dynamic Youth Afghanistan; Maldives National Youth Council; Coca-Cola; Turkish Airlines & South-South Network.

The live session on the topic, “Taking Charge of our Future” was held on Friday, 21 August 2020. The session provided an opportunity to hear about the activities, development, and policies for Youths in the Maldives from Mr. Ahmed Irash, Senior Policy Director – Political Head of Youth Department, Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment, Maldives.

Mr. Asish Thakur, Executive Director at Global Pvt. Ltd warmed up the session by highlighting the interactive opinion about the festival. He started the session with a brief introduction of the speaker.

The first question was raised to the speaker,” What are the Maldivian youths doing during this COVID-19 pandemic?”

Mr. Irash mentioned that although youths are being affected, the youths have been involved in doing different works in COVID-19 situations like an emergency response to the staff of the ministry, and different civil organizations. They became volunteers in providing essential supplies, medicines not only in the capital cities but across all over the Maldives. So, they contributed to mitigate the problems that arose during this pandemic.

Mr. Thakur raised another question, “75% of young people in the Maldives. Some of them are either educated or employed or self-employed. How are we taking care of other young people and how are you pulling young people towards education, employment or self-employed and things such as?

Mr. Irash highlighted that 40% of the total population is below the age of 35. Some of them are involved in education, some of them are employed and some of them are involved in employment. There was an impact assessment survey that showed 22,000 youths were directly and indirectly affected because of a pandemic. Youths are at the forefront of the country. They have around 500 thousand total population of the Maldives. He highlighted the centralization act ratified by the president on the 5th of December. After that, they had come over changes that how work is carried by Maldivians virtually in this pandemic period regarding sports, developing infrastructure, mental health issues while staying at home, and so on. There is the sports minister as well where youths were focused on the issue. As some of them have been involved in the game at home for so long. They are conducting lots of virtual programs from the youth department with different interesting topics. They conducted programs virtually for youth “online gaming of youth”. They set the program and invited the youths with different topics and questions and answered those things to the youths.

“Do the youth are interested in politics, policymaking in terms of political aspects rather than entrepreneurship, skill, and education?”

Mr. Irash answered that regarding political participation and youth empowerment, youth are interested in centralization acts and goals of government. In the Maldives, there is female participation in the politics too and 1/3rd of seats are reserved for females. So, it shows that there is a woman participation in the decision-making tool. There are youth movements and organizations are taking the role of youth empowerment. Youths are deliberately seen to be interested in environmental development and sustainability and mental health. There is a national youth council, different youth organizations, NGOs working with the minister. There is a youth minister as well as young ministers too. So, he focused that it is a time for youth to come before and believed that bringing youth together brings progress.

“What kind of skills or education the youths are trying to get in terms of job, entrepreneur mindsets?”

Skill development is core-focused in their government. He said that they were dependent upon foreign support. Youths were more coming in the market and they had ICT. They did a virtual session like a virtual presentation in sign language, agriculture, and in different areas.

What are the future projects that the government youth is coming out for the development of skills in the Maldives?

Though it is considered that the elder people are prone to be affected easily by the pandemic, youths are affected more. Thus, by focusing on the youth, the government engages youth in civil society, local government authority by creating platforms.

The final question was raised to the speaker,” Was if there is anything to share which would help every South Asian youth?”

Mr. Irash told the highlighting part must be engagement, voluntarism of the youth. This is a time for society. Youth can do many things as they are for the present as well as for the future.


The live session ended in an intellectual and very interactive way. The session highlighted the important youth role that can take charge of the future from a global perspective. It was indeed an excellent discussion on the platform of the South Youth Asian Festival 2020.