Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

Hamngatan 4
AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
peace@peace.ax
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Publication about
the Åland Example

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2 Completed projects

 

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.

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. 

 

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"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.

Background

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.

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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)

 

 

 

 

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. 

The project Challenging Gender roles for Prevention of Trafficking - 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 - was formally closed in the end of February. Today, on the internatinal women's day 2012 a summary of the project is published in Swedish and English. The summary in English can be downloaded in pdf here.

The project has been focusing on preventive work through empowerment of young girls and boys, information activities and research. The project has been carried out by the Åland Islands Peace Institute, Åland, Finland, and the Resource Center for Women, Marta, Riga, Latvia.

Within the project consultant Mia Hanström wrote a method book for girl and boy groups. The manual (in Swedish) can be downloaded in pdf here.

The research report "Effects of the girl and boy group method – A gender and social psychology perspective on gender equality youth work on Åland and in Latvia" can be ordered from the ÅIPI or downloaded in pdf. Find out more here.

Also check out two short films, produced by Marta, about boy and girl group activities. You can find them here.

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