Besnik Leka, CARE International Balkans


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"Youth as change factor"
Regional Review Conference on the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development
Geneva, Switzerland | 8-9 July 2014

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Besnik Leka, CARE International Balkans

  1. 1. Young Men Initiative Presentation by: Besnik Leka– CARE International - Balkans 09.07.201409.07.2014
  2. 2. CARE International CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Mission: To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. CARE in the Balkans exist since 1992, has been active in programming related to: • Return of refugees and displaced persons , • Local economic development, • Civil society development, • Gender Equality, violence prevention and combating human trafficking, • Minority and human rights
  3. 3. 2 Young Men Initiative YMI 2.1 Working with adolescent boys between the ages of 14 - 18 2.2 To increase the uptake of healthy, nonviolent, and gender equitable lifestyles among young men in the Western Balkans 2.3 A program focused addressing social norms around what it means to be a man in society. 2.4 The program utilizes a gender and youth work framework to promote attitudes and behaviors that contribute to healthier lifestyles, gender equality and resolving of conflict without the use of violence.
  4. 4. Be a man fill your brain Be a man fall in love • Be a man without violence
  5. 5. 3. Key Problems YMI addresses 3.1 We focus on young men, especially those from lower socio – economic backgrounds and who face more social exclusion in their community and wider society. 3.2 In our research with over 2,000 young men in these technical schools, we have seen the following profile; 3.2.1Over 50% have been involved in some group related violence and over 70% have been involved in some type of interpersonal violence (bullying, peer and or dating); 3.2.2 Over 60% of young men report binge drinking (over 5 drinks in one setting) except in Sarajevo and Pristina where numbers were a bit lower. 3.2.3In Zagreb and Belgrade over 30% of the respondents report being sexual active. 3.3 Unable to live up to societal expectations and often young men report high levels of stress and depression. 3.4 Throughout the region, young men report exposure to family violence, violence in media, job and economic stress, substance abuse, and notion of masculinity as major factors associated with their use of violence.
  6. 6. 4 What are the key issues that need to be tackled if a durable solution has to be found? 4.1 More targeted interventions that looks at how gender socialization impacts both young men and women (more programs should use a gender lens to understand the different dynamics that impact boys and girls differently). 4.2 The professionalization of youth work and greater resources to work longer term with young men (and other socially vulnerable groups). 4.3 Educational reform and more youth development programs (investment in prevention) to support more challenging youth and those exhibiting anti-social behaviors.
  7. 7. The results are striking. Before the initiative, 69% of participants thought physical strength was the most important quality for a man – this dropped to 42%. The number who said they wouldn't automatically join friends in a fight rose from 38% to 57%. And the proportion who thought a man was justified in beating a woman for cheating on him dropped from 52% to 27%.
  8. 8. 5 Who should be involved in developing solutions? 5.1 NGOs and government institutions need to work together in developing policies and in implementing programs. 5.1.1 YMI has worked with the ministry of interior in Croatia on a violence prevention program implemented in primary schools jointly by the police and youth worker. 5.1.2 YMI has developed an online training course on violence prevention and work with young men for educators and youth workers. 5.1.3 YMI has worked with local youth offices as part of the Ministry of Sport and youth on the development of local “be a man clubs” promoting positive masculinities and non- violence. 5.2 Youth need to be engaged in all levels …from researching and understanding the issue, to design, implementation and evaluation of different interventions. 5.2.1 YMI steering group has comprised peer leaders who have been a creative group engaged at all levels of the program. 5.3 Many of the staff of YMI has been participants first and through different leadership opportunities had the chance to develop news skills as peer educators and youth workers.
  9. 9. 6 What are the Key Lessons? 6.1 Having well trained local partners skilled in work with young men and in gender transformative programming. 6.2 Strong youth engagement (YMI has involved over 15,000 youth in 5 countries). 6.3 Linking research/evaluation with policy and practice. 6.4 Recognition and financial support by government institutions for the positive engagement of youth work. 6.5 Strengthening the role of youth work (both voluntary formal sectors) in addressing social justice and youth development challenges.
  10. 10. 7 What are the key gaps? Needs for action • As gender is relational…including mix gender work as a component of work with young men on issues of gender equality and dating violence is important. • Behavior change takes time (first step is gaining knowledge and awareness rising, then changing of attitudes and opportunities to practice skills leads to more longer term behavior change) • Longer term funding…most funding for organizations like CARE is about 3 years…for local NGOs in can be 12 months or less…wide scale community change happens over a longer period. • Engaging with wider adult community and role models (YMI works with sports association, school parent associations, and other adults that have influence on young men (and youth in general).
  11. 11. • Scaling up in schools …including the mandatory introduction in school curricula topics that cover gender norms, masculinity, sexual and reproductive health and violence prevention. • Addressing out of school youth, especially young men… with programs that address mental health issues. • Greater work with media on the treatment of issues of gender and violence. Often the media is reinforcing harmful norms and practices. • In the case of the Balkans, more support from international donor community.