EWL News

Finland/Latvia - EWL member project challenges gender roles to prevent trafficking

[Brussels, 29 July 2011] An EWL member - the Resource Centre for Women “Marta” - which is based in Riga, Latvia, is undertaking a project aimed 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, Challenging Gender roles for Prevention of Trafficking, is a Åland-Latvian initiative which is being carried out jointly with by the Åland Islands Peace Institute, Åland, Finland and will run from October 2009 until December 2011.

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 strengthening 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.

Within the project girl- and boy group leaders are trained and encouraged to start new groups both on Åland and in Latvia. A team of researchers are assessing the effects of the method on self-esteem and perceptions of gender roles and expectations among the participants.

Another important part of the project is to inform the wider audience about the importance of making the links between empowerment, gender equality and gender based crime.

Annually around 2,000 women from the Baltic States become victims of trafficking. Finland is one of the primary destination countries for many trafficking victims from Latvia. Gender inequality and gender stereotypes in both countries of origin and countries of destination provide a favourable environment for gender based crime. This is why the root causes of trafficking have to be dealt with in cross-border cooperation. An effective way of preventing trafficking is to adopt methods that help the young generation to resist the influence of traditional gender roles and to make their own choices based on knowledge, individual values and beliefs.

The project highlights the importance of youth empowerment as a tool for promoting more respectful gender relations and thereby reducing the risk of gender based crime.

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.

For more information about the Challenging Gender roles for Prevention of Trafficking visit: http://www.peace.ax/en/challenginggenderroles

For more information about the Resource Centre for Women “Marta” visit: http://www.marta.lv/

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