Youth policy in Sweden: “Europe has the same struggles!”
The representative of the National Council of Swedish Youth Organizations (LSU), Vice Chair at Advisory Council on Youth, Anja Olin Pape, reflects on the problems of our countries and interest in social activism. Anja was an active partner and participant of the RADA FORUM.
In what directions, in your opinion, the youth sector in Belarus should develop?
It is very hard for me to assess the situation in Belarus. From my perspective, I see the possibility of fight for the right of association and the freedom of association, as well as promotion of freedom of expression.
They say that the outside perspective is the most objective one.
What we can see here, at the RADA FORUM, is absolutely fantastic! All the organizations coming from different regions and having open discussions about youth policy. It is a milestone in the work of RADA and youth policy in Belarus. Even through Belarus has different preconditions and circumstances than many other European countries, these discussions happen in the same way and content all over Europe.
“What we can see here, at RADA FORUM, is absolutely fantastic! All the organizations coming from different regions and having open discussions about youth policy”.
If you could compare youth sector in Europe and Belarus, what Belarusian youth sector is lacking of?
The lack of sustainable funding, lack of political support, lack of influence over the processes that affect youth. This is a struggle that we have in many countries, but in Belarus, it is a lot more serious, the gap is even bigger than where else in Europe.
Young people in Belarus are reluctant to engage in social activism. Does Europe have the same situation? Is it because of laziness?
The biggest problem with youth engagement is that many times it is seen as not worth it because young people do not feel like their voices are heard, even though they are engaged. In order to have more active young people and be able to inspire more young people to take part in politics and civil society we need to make sure that their voices are actually heard, that the feel that they have an influence on the process. The society blames young people a lot for being lazy and not interested in politics. However, I think it is because the society excludes them from decision-making processes.
Is it hard to establish a youth organization in Sweden? If yes, how hard it is?
In Europe, it depends on the country. The difference between, for example, Spain, Germany and Sweden is significant, which is also a problem and very unfair. Depending where you are born, you have different possibilities to excess the right of freedom of association. In Sweden, I would say, we are very fortunate to have a good system of helping young people to get organized. At the same time, the system is based on the sports movement. It is easier to start a sports club and get funding depending not on the quality of the work, but the quantity. If you have 20 people who want to play football for an hour, you get the same amount as if you have five people who engage in democracy education for an hour. The prerequisites for organizing young people in Sweden based on sports and not on the fact that civil society gives a lot more to them.
Anja Olin Pape took an active part in RADA FORUM, a two-day conference on the situation of youth and the youth sector in Belarus, held in Minsk on September 17-18.
The Republican youth public association «Next Stop – New Life» in coalition with the Belarusian national youth council «RADA».