Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

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AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
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Suheyla, Rena and Ulrika in discussion about women's roles in Azerbaijan and about the nordic Gilr and Boy group method. 

The Peace Institute’s first long-term project with Yuva, a women’s organization in Baku/Azerbaijan, officially started on October 1, 2011. Yuva is, just as the Peace Institute, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of women and  the participation of women in decision-making process on all levels of society. The project centers around the Nordic Girl group method which shall now be introduced also in Azerbaijan. The Peace Institute will support Yuva in establishing a girl club in one of Baku’s most disadvantaged districts, where Yuva will offer meaningful after-school activities with a feminist perspective. The Girl Group method will be part of the activities offered, as well as IT and English courses, which right now are extremely popular among the youth of Azerbaijan.

The project is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Emmaus Åland. 


Youth organizations in Azerbaijan tend to focus on knowledge and academic performance, both in attracting participants and in the type of activities they offer, courses in leadership skills for example are popular and many youngsters consider their involvement in such activities as beneficial for their future careers. Youth work focuses largely on young university students and the activities offered do not differ that much from education in schools or universities. Youths, especially girls, who because of their family-situation or their limited economic capacities cannot participate in such after-schools activities, offered mostly in the centre of the city are marginalized. Yuva wants to create a safe, locally owned girl club for girls between 14 and 16. In-formal learning  activities and girl group meetings will be major tools to trigger these girls to think about the traditional gender patterns that influence them as women and limit the space given to all human beings in society.


Street in Yasamal, a part of Baku where a girls' center would be much needed.

Project manager Sarah Stephan and gender expert Ulrika Navier from the Åland Islands Peace Institute received a warm welcome in Baku when they visited Yuva between November 28 and December 2, 2011. Ulrika and Sarah met with Suheyla Jaferova, project manager at Yuva and the women who created Yuva back in 1997, Pervana Mammadova and Rena Tahirova.

During the visit both partner organisations concentrated their efforts on assessing how the Nordic Girl Group method can be applied in Azerbaijan. To identify the need for adaptation and potential challenges is an essential prerequisite for the successful use of the method in a new environment, where traditional gender roles continue to define the lives of both women and men. During he first three months of the project both partner organizations succeeded in establishing well-functioning structures of cooperation. Thanks to the unique expertise within Yuva, the Peace Institute has learnt a lot about the situation of women in Azerbaijan. Within earlier projects the Peace Institute has developed method-material for girl- and boy-groups in Swedish, Lithuanian, Russian and Latvian. After a diligent assessment of the Russian material and its value for the Azeri context during the visit, the manual will now be translated into Azeri. The first Girl Group leaders will be trained in Baku in April 2011, with the girl club opening in the summer of 2012. The project will run until September 2014. The Peace Institute is looking forward to it continued cooperation with Yuva.


Old town of Baku. In the background one of many major ongoing construction projects can be seen.