A group of youth from Bangladesh, Nepal and Slovenia visited Finland in March. The study visit was part of the project ”Participation in Action” which enhances the experience sharing and mutual learning of youth from four different countries. Active members of Finnish political youth organisations also participated in the programme of the study visit. The main theme of the visit was equality, but political party dialogue and youth participation were also dealt with during the visit.
Equality issues in Finland were introduced by the National Council of Women in Finland and the Coalition of Finnish Women’s Associations. Equality was also discussed during the visit to the Finnish Parliament where the group met the current Chair of Demo Finland, MP Satu Haapanen and representative of the Network of Women in Finland’s Parliament, MP Leena Rauhala. Haapanen and Rauhala shared their experiences from Finnish politics and talked about the cross-party cooperation of women politicians. During the visit to the Parliament, the group also got an introduction to the history of the Finnish Parliament and to the Youth Parliament that gathered a week later.
From youth to youth
Youth participation was also discussed during the study visit. The group visited Allianssi, the umbrella organisation of the Finnish youth organisations and met respresentatives of the Youth Council of Porvoo. The visit to Porvoo also included introduction to youth centre Zentra and its activities. Finnish political youth organisations participated in the study visit by hosting non-formal evenings and other meetings.
In addition to the visits and meetings, group work was included in the programme. A group of students from HUMAK University of Applied Sciences had prepared a workshop under the themes of equality and parity. Issues related to equality were also discussed in a workshop entitled ”Good practices in youth organisations: Identifying domination techniques”. The workshop consisted of learning through games, group working and acting, and Demo Finland’s youth working group had participated in planning the contents of the workshop.
On the last day of the study visit, the participants were divided in country groups. The Bangladeshi group had a meeting with the Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights KIOS, while the Nepalese had an introduction to student life in Finland with the National Union of University Students in Finland and the Slovenians visited a cultural centre that is being renovated by youth NGO Oranssi.
Sightseeing, cooking and learning
The participants also had the chance for some sightseeing as there was also time for walking around Helsinki and the old town of Porvoo and visiting the fortress island of Suomenlinna. Traditional Finnish food was served in the evenings hosted by political youth organisations, but the participants also got to know each other’s food cultures in a cooking evening where the participants themselves prepared the dishes. In addition, the group got to experience the real Finnish spring when the weather varied from warm sunshine to horizontal snowfall.
All in all, the study visit offered new contacts, information on youth participation in other countries and practical tools and ideas for equality and advocacy work. The participants appreciated especially the experience sharing with Finnish youth politicans and working and learning together in the workshops.
The Participation in Action –project will continue in April as the next study visit to Nepal will bring together youth from Finland, Bangladesh, Nepal and Slovenia.
More photos on the project on Demo Finland’s Facebook-page.