Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

Hamngatan 4
AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
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ELDIA project finished – scientific results are now available

2014-11-12 07:41:00


Abstract: multilingualism and language diversity still an exception says ELDIA project

logo eldia red copyThe project ELDIA (European Language Diversity for All), which started in March 2010 (with funding from the EU 7th programme for research) was completed in early 2014 and most results have now been published. The project sought to contribute to multilingualism in European contexts, taking into account modern European minorities. ELDIA’s aim was to question the ideology of monolingualism and its assumption of simple interconnection between one’s language and ethnic identity. The project was rather based on the assumption that language diversity represents the very basis of equality and individual empowerment. The project has included cases of languages in migrant positions and languages with various situations of formal status. All minority languages analyzed belonged to the Finno – Ugric language family and it was for the very first time that topics like multilingualism and language diversity have been dealt in Finno – Ugrian studies to this extent. The language groups studied in ELDIA do not simply struggle against the decay of their languages but for the visibility and revitalization of them including into new domains like administration, politics and business. The analyzed language situations are: Hungarian in Slovenia, Hungarian in Austria, Estonian in Germany, Seto in Estonia, Võro in Estonia, Veps in Russia, Karelian in Russia, Karelian in Finland, Estonian in Finland, Meankieli in Sweden, Kven in Norway and North Sami in Norway.

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Girl and boy groups on Åland

2013-12-07 13:19:50

The Åland Islands Peace Institute and Folkhälsan på Åland have been awarded Paf-funding for co-operation in the framework of the project “More and Better Girl and Boy Groups on Åland”. The goal of the project is to lay a firm basis for long-term co-operation between the Peace Institute and Folkhälsan på Åland and to improve the quality and Boy Group activities. Folkhälsan is a Finland-wide Public Health Association. The Girl and Boy group method aims at individual empowerment and has an integrated gender perspective. The method’s direct objective is to create settings, which are non-discriminatory and norm-critical at the same time, and to encourage teenage girls and boys to question and critically reflect upon prevailing gender stereotypes, to discuss gendered norms and expectations and gender-based discrimination in a deliberative process contributing to their personal development and individual empowerment, and to improve their conflict management skills. The method’s indirect objective is to prevent the social risks that are reinforced by traditional gender norms such as gender-based violence, including human trafficking, mobbing, drug abuse or juvenile delinquency. The method thus has a strong public health perspective and is a part of a boarder peace agenda, which includes the absence of violence and the empowerment of individuals. The Åland Island Peace Institute’s key function within the project is the assessment and development of the method, as well as ensuring a focus on the core values of the activities such as non-violence and gender equality. In autumn 2013 the first databank for Girl and Boy Group leaders with a wide range of method material was created and the creation of guidelines for leaders has commenced. 


“Open Doors” for girls in Azerbaijan

2013-11-15 11:23:12

The project “Open Doors” centers on the Nordic Girl Group Method, which is for the first time applied in Azerbaijan. The project is a co-operation between the Åland Islands Peace Institute and the women’s organization Yuva in Azerbaijan, it started in the autumn of 2011 end will continue until the autumn of 2014.

Yuva is 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 Peace Institute has supported Yuva in establishing the girl club “Open Doors” which was opened in the neighborhood of Ahmedli in May 2012.

The Center is a meeting place for young women between the ages of 16 and 25, where Yuva offers meaningful after-school activities with a feminist perspective as well as IT and English courses. Within the project Girl Group leaders have been trained and groups have started at the center. 

Fair Sex project

2013-04-24 13:05:43


"Fair Sex" is a project run by the Åland Island Peace Institute, which aims at the prevention of sexual violence and the promotion of gender equality among youth on the Åland Islands. The project includes interactive workshops for students at secondary schools as well as training and consulting activities for teachers and headmasters on how to promote gender equality in school. The project also has an outreach perspective targeted at schools and the society at large.


The Åland Islands Peace Institute works practically and with research into peace and conflict issues in a broadly defined sense. In its practical work, the institute focuses primarily on the prevention of violence and the empowerment of individuals and groups at all levels of society. One of the Institute's main perspectives in all work is gender, and a big part of the practical work is carried out in the framework of regional co-operation, i.e. empowerment projects with partners in neighboring areas but also on the local level, in co-operation with civil society organizations and schools on Åland.

Fair Sex started in 2011, as an information campaign on the Åland Islands within the international, EU-funded project "Challenging Gender Roles for Prevention of Trafficking". With financing from the Government of Åland, the material developed in the original campaign was later developed into interactive workshops for students in their second year of secondary school. Since 2012, the project also includes training and consulting for teachers and school managements on how to work against sexual harassments in schools.

Working with students – workshops about sex and relationships

Fair Sex workshops give young people a possibility to discuss norms about sex and relations in an interactive and deliberative way. We discuss themes such as respect and mutuality, listening for a yes, rumors and reputations, gray areas, sexual violence, and the expectations there are on boys and girls when it comes to sex. The purpose is to question prejudges and norms connected to gender and sexuality, but also to create space for discussions about sex with young people and in society at large. Talking about sex in structures but nonetheless non-formal and relaxed discussions, often in mixed groups, is something not everyone has experience of. It is also an opportunity to spread information and present other perspectives of sex, sexuality and sexual violence than the simplified picture often presented in movies, commercials, magazines and pornography.

Our experience and the results of the students' evaluations show that there is a desire among young people to discuss sex and relationships. We have also seen that this kind of interactive training itself serves a purpose in classes where the students don't have much experience of expressing their opinion, presenting their arguments and reflect on such issues. The training method in itself, which is non-formal and interactive, can therefore be considered to have an empowering effect.

Norms and stereotypes connected to sex and sexuality, group pressure and media's messages about sex, is something the students are well aware of and critical to. But, despite their opposition, both boys and girls recognize a pressure to act and behave in certain ways. For example, boys are expected to often or always want to have sex and girls, who have sex with different partners, risk to get a bad reputation. Many students are also unaware of The fact that boys can become victims of rape.


There is a manifest need to discuss ambiguous signals, gray areas, and respectful relationship. Most people know that you always have the right to say no to sex, and that sex is mutual when "both want to". But communication about sex is not always easy and often proves to be sensitive. [LL1] most of us would agree that you always have the right to say no to sex, but that it may be mean to say no to someone whom you have made out with or followed home after a night out. Research indicated that especially girls have had sex in situations when they actually have not wanted, in fear of disappointing their partner. There is also a tendency of belittling sexual assault and rape when the perpetrator is a partner or a friend. There is a widespread picture that girls report innocent guys as rapists as revenge, while many (mainly girls) express in survey that they would not report an assault based on fear of not being believed.

Working with the teachers – rooting awareness in schools

To ensure a long-term approach to violence prevention and to the promotion of gender equality, also teachers and school managements need to be involved. School shall be a place free from violations/harassments and discrimination. Teachers have a big responsibility since they meet the students on a regular and long-term basis; they see how the students feel and how they treat each other. To work against sexual harassment and to make sure that no student is discriminated against, not in the classroom or anywhere else in school, teachers, headmasters and welfare teams in schools need competence and high level of awareness about gender issues and norms, as well as about their students' reality when it comes to gender equality and sexuality.

The Åland Islands Peace Institute's teacher training in Fair Sex aims to equip teachers and schools with tools to discover, deal with and prevent sexual violence and harassment. The basis of this work forms discussions about gender and norms, about the staffs' own experience and their visions for their school. In 2012, Fair Sex trainings was held with teachers and headmasters from all Ålandic first and secondary schools[LL2] . During 2013, the Ålandic secondary schools are offered guidance to develop and improve gender equality plans.


Activity report 2013 (pdf)





Empowerment in Lithuania and Russia 2010-2011

2010-09-01 11:20:16

Since 2010 the Åland Islands Peace Institute has been participating in a tripartite cooperation project “Overcoming Gender Disparities as a Tool for Social Change” together with the Lithuanian partner organisation Nendre and the NGO Zvezda Nadezhdy (“The Star of Hope”) in the Kaliningrad region (Russia). The project results are monitored and analysed by a researcher from the Karelian Center for Gender Studies.

The overall goal of the project is to introduce a new empowerment approach for working with both sexes inspired by the Nordic girl and boy group method. The method, which is based on a group discussion, involves representatives of both sexes and aims at promoting gender equality and increasing the wellbeing of both women and men, including adults and teenagers. The group members are provided with a forum to reflect on the traditional gender norms and gender based expectations and how they influence their attitudes, relationships and actions. The group leaders were trained in autumn 2010 in Vilnius. All in all, the project involves 40 men, 40 women and 100 teenagers in Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region.

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and Emmaus Åland.

Challenging Gender Roles for Prevention of Trafficking

2009-09-01 11:22:26


Challenging Gender roles for Prevention of Trafficking is a joint Åland-Latvian project aiming at combating stereotypical gender perceptions at a grass-root level in order to undermine conditions for development of gender related violence, human trafficking and sexual slavery.

The project is focusing on preventive work through empowerment of young girls and boys. The girl and boy group method is a Nordic model of direct work with young people aiming at strenghtening individuals, enhancing the participants' possibilities to become active citizens and at the same time questioning prevailing gender stereotypes in order to achieve greater gender equality and a non-discriminatory setting for individual development.

The Project is carried out by the Åland Islands Peace Institute, Åland, Finland, and the Resource Center for Women, Marta, Riga, Latvia from October 2009 until December 2011. The Project is financed within the framework of the INTERREG IV Programme of the European Regional Development Fund. National co-financing is kindly provided by the Government of Åland.

Click here to find links to resources, info campaigns etc that has been produced or used in the project.

Here you can find information about the project partners and steering group.


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NB. The material on the website reflects the authors views and that the Managing Authority cannot be held liable for the information published by the project partners

Girl Power in Lithuania

2009-09-01 11:18:26

During the period 2004-2009, the Åland Islands Peace Institute participated as a partner in the project "Girl Power in Lithuania", implemented by the Missing Persons' Families Support Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania. The project, which is still running, focuses primarily on strengthening the girls' self-esteem and self-awareness and providing them with tools for formulating their own opinions, developing their individual skills and reflecting on the society from a gender perspective. The target group are girls from socially vulnerable families who are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking. Many of the girls are selected from high schools and raised by single and marginalized mothers, alcoholic parents or brought up in institutions. Even girls who have suffered from sexual slavery and returned back to Lithuania have the chance to join the girl group activities. In 2010 the project received a new name, "Girl and Boy Power in Lithuania", in connection with the plans to educate boy group leaders and to launch boy groups with a gender perspective.

Nendre – Lessons Learned

2009-09-01 11:08:11

In 2005-2009 the Åland Islands Peace Institute was running the project "Nendre – Lessons Learned " in cooperation with the Center for Women and Children Nendre in Vilnius, Lithuania. The project, which was funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Emmaus Åland, aimed to share Nendre’s experiences of social work among marginalized social groups to organizations in the Kaliningrad region and Belarus. Another goal was to start similar initiatives in the partner countries, focusing on democracy and equal participation as a basis for a change on the individual as well as the societal level.

As a result of the project, several partner organizations have started their own social initiatives, which continue to a varying extent even after the end of the project term. The NGO Zvezda Nadezhdy (“The Star of Hope”) in Kaliningrad has chosen underage pregnant girls as its target group. Through counseling and guidance the young women receive support for developing their maternity skills and dealing with the mental, physical and social changes connected to the pregnancy. After the child is born the mothers are given continuous support in accordance with an individual action plan, which aims to strengthen the emotional connection with the child and to create conditions for a safe family environment.

Another organization in the Kaliningrad region, Vozrozhdenije semji (“Rebirth of the Family”), has been working with single mothers who lack motivation to raise their children and improve the living conditions of their families. The mothers are offered social, legal and psychological counseling; the children are involved in art therapy and other activities and the families receive an opportunity to participate in various cultural activities. The cooperation with the Belarusian organizations, which was established during the project "Nendre – Lessons Learned", continued since 2007 with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers under the name "Nordic-Baltic-Belarusian Network for Empowerment of marginalized groups and prevention of trafficking" (read more below).

During the project, twelve network meetings have been arranged for the partner organizations. Apart from sharing the experiences and getting acquainted with the different social services offered at Nendre, the meetings also included workshops and discussions on such topics as social, gender and family policy, social inclusion, gender equality, organization development and human trafficking. The project also resulted in a method manual that describes the model of social and educational work developed at Nendre; a new website for Nendre and a series of publications by the Russian partner organizations, which are addressed both to their clients (women and children) as well as to other actors working with this target group.

Nordic-Baltic-Belarusian network for empowerment of marginalized groups and prevention of trafficking

2009-09-01 11:04:43

The cooperation with the Belarusian organizations Duxovnost (“Spirituality”) and Provintsija (“Province”), which was established during the project "Nendre – Lessons Learned", continued  in 2007-2008 with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. As the partner organizations viewed an increase in trafficking in Belarus as one of the most urgent social problems, they chose to focus on preventive activities in form of the girl groups. After receiving an introduction to the method and studying the experiences of the girl group activities at the center Nendre in Lithuania, the Belarusian leaders initiated own groups in five different cities in Belarus - Gomel, Mogilev, Minsk, Borisov and Molodechno. They also received a deepening training and met with the author of the manual for the girl group leaders, Mia Hanström, in connection with a seminar on the Åland Islands. The method manual was translated into Russian.

Apart from the girl group activities, the Belarusian partner NGOs organized various activities and workshops for youth with fewer opportunities, among others orphaned teenagers and children from socially vulnerable families. The aim was to empower young people in socially disadvantaged groups and to enhance their individual skills so that they become better equipped to face various problems and situations in life. A group of teenagers who have taken part in the project continue to share these experiences on a voluntary basis.

The project has also been important for the capacity development of the Belarusian NGOs in the view of the difficult conditions for NGOs that prevail in the country.

Bridging experiences –prevention of gender based violence and trafficking in Finland and Northwest Russia

2009-09-01 10:55:37

In 2009 the Peace Institute established a contact with the Karelian Center for Gender Studies in Petrozavodsk, Russia. The purpose of the cooperation was to share the experiences of promoting gender equality and the various methods that can be used for combating gender-based violence, including sexual slavery. The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Representatives of the partner organizations met both in Petrozavodsk and on the Åland Islands in order to study the local efforts and community initiatives related to prevention of gender-based violence, promotion of gender equality and different activities targeting young people. The Peace Institute’s partners from Lithuania, Belarus and the Kaliningrad region also had a chance to take part in the network meetings and contributed with their own experiences. Besides, the meeting programme included presentations on the situation of women, gender debate and the development of gender as well as family policies in different countries, including Åland and Finland. During the final conference on the Åland Islands, the Karelian Centre for Gender Studies presented the results of a study on how media in Lithuania, Belarus and Russia reports on questions related to gender equality, trafficking and gender based violence.

The cooperation with the Karelian Center for Gender Studies continues under the ongoing project "Overcoming Gender Disparities as a Tool for Social Change".