Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

Hamngatan 4
AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
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the Åland Example


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Twenty-one girl and boy groups have started on Åland and in Latvia and more groups are on the way. These girls and boys groups are part of the cross border project called "Challenging Gender Stereotypes for Prevention of Trafficking " between ÅIPI and the Resource Center for Women "Marta", in Riga (Latvia), which highlights the importance of youth empowerment as a tool for promoting more respectful gender relations and thereby reducing the risk of gender based crime.

Two boys groups and four girls groups have started in Mariehamn, Hammarland and Lemland on Åland; meanwhile six boys groups and nine girls groups have started in Riga and in the region of Vidzeme, Zemgale and Kurzeme, in Latvia. One group on Åland and six more groups in Latvia may start soon.

The boys and girls groups provide the young people with a base from where they can form their own individual opinions on how to act and make choices in everyday life. In the case of Åland, there are two leaders and around six youngsters participate in each group. In Latvia, there are more groups, with the same structure only boys and only girls, with one or two leaders and between seven and 12 participants in each group.

During the boys group they can discuss the subjects that they are interested in, such as their masculinity, the expectations from the society and about equality. At the same time, girls can talk about important questions in their lives but also about what it means to be a girl, the roles they have to play in the society and express their opinion about equality.

This method has been used with success in Lithuania, Belarus and Kaliningrad as a tool for preventing social marginalization and human trafficking. The method is now used also with the broader aim of combating stereotypical gender norms that can legitimate gender based violence. The project is financed within the framework of the INTERREG IV Programme of the European Regional Development Fund and is co-financed by the government of Åland.