Four Finnish youth politicians from different political parties participated in a study visit to Bangladesh in February. The study visit was part of the project “Participation in Action”, which aims to enhance international experience sharing and mutual learning of young people. Groups of Slovenian and Nepalese youth also attended the study visit.
The main focus of the study visit was human rights, which is the main field of Odhikar, Demo Finland’s partner organisation in Bangladesh. Odhikar has been monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation of Bangladesh since its founding in 1994. During the study visit, participants had the opportunity to get to know Odhikar’s employees and young human rights defenders.
Youth participation and young people’s opportunities to get their voices heard were discussed throughout the program of the study visit. Finnish youth politicians shared their experiences on political youth organisations and different channels for youth participation in Finland, and learnt a lot about the opportunities and challenges for young Bangladeshis in return.
The program of the study visit contained, for example, meetings with young people and journalists, a visit to a garment factory and attending a human rights defenders conference on violence against women. In the conference, representatives from Finland, Nepal and Slovenia also spoke on the situation of their countries. Although the forms of gender-based violence were seen to be different in Asia and in Europe, the core problem – violence against women – remains mutual for all the four countries.
One of the highlights of the study visit was attending the festivities of the International Mother Language Day, which is important in Bangladesh and gathers people to the Shaheed Minar -monument to commemorate the martyrs of the Bengali language movement. The participants had the opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere of the day by taking flowers to the monument together with Bangladeshi youth.
For the participants from different countries and with different backrounds, the study visit offered an opportunity to build networks, to learn from each other and also to experience the hospitality of Bangladesh which was highly appreciated by the youth from Finland, Nepal and Slovenia.
“Participation in Action” is a project funded by the Youth in Action –program of the European Union. It brings together active young people from Finland, Bangladesh, Nepal and Slovenia, and seeks to promote youth participation, democracy and human rights. Four study visits will be organised during the project, one to each of the partner countries.