December 9, 2019 // Male' 

Between 1995 and 2018, Maldives’ Human Development Index (HDI) value underwent an increase of 32 percent. Based on this progress Maldives is among the countries of the “High Human Development Group” the second highest category in the Human Development Index and ranking. From South Asia, countries which are close to Maldives in 2018 HDI rank and to some extent in population size are Bhutan and Sri Lanka, which have HDIs ranked 134 and 71 respectively

While HDI values were calculated for all 9 South Asian countries, Maldives ranked the highest HDI value for the region in the areas of life expectancy(years).. Between 1990 and 2018, Maldives’ life expectancy at birth increased by over 17 years, the average years of schooling increased by nearly 3 years, and per capita income has almost exactly doubled. However, these improvements are unevenly distributed across the population. As a result, Maldives’ HDI drops by over 20% when adjusted for inequality.

These are some of the key findings specific to the Maldives, of the 2019 Human Development Report, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A number of figures from the government, academia and students gathered at the Maldives National University (MNU) today for the National Launch of the report, a partnership between UNDP Maldives, the Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure and the Maldives National University

In his key note speech the Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Hon Mohamed Aslam noted that while Maldives enjoys the highest Gross National Income per capita levels in the region, several forms of inequalities still persist in our society. He noted the fact that women only represent 20% of key decision-making positions within the government to be particularly regrettable. And stressed the importance of working towards enabling equal opportunities for women

The HDI is a measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living

The Human Development Report (HDR) says that as the gap in basic standards is narrowing, with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. The next generation of inequalities is opening up, particularly around technology, education, and the climate crisis

Addressing those in attendance, the UNDP Maldives Resident Representative Ms. Akiko Fujii said, ‘Inequality begins before birth. Parents’ incomes and circumstances affect their children’s health, education and future employment. Theses inequalities then accumulate and multiply over the course of people’s lives because of the social and economic structures within which they live. They then influence the life chances of children of the next generation. Tackling inequality needs to recognize this structural nature and cyclical pattern.’ The report which highlights a number of ways to tackle inequality within and across societies argues that taxation cannot be looked at on its own, but must be part of a system of policies, including policies for public spending on health, education, and alternatives to a carbon-intensive lifestyle

Averages hide what is really going on in society, says the HDR, and while they can be helpful in telling a larger story, much more detailed information is needed to create policies to tackle inequality effectively. Averages can be particularly misleading in the context of the Asia-Pacific region, which includes countries spanning the full spectrum of human development groups, from low to very high

Looking beyond today, the report asks how inequality may change in future, particularly through the lens of climate change and technological transformation – two forces that seem set to shape human development outcomes into the next century.

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