Variety is the spice of life

Between the 22th to the 29th of November, Diana Babakhanyan and Nelly Paytyan, staff members of Armenian Progressive Youth NGO took part in the follow up event of the project ‘Variety is spice of life’ which was implemented by Youth for Exchange and Understanding and funded by European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.
Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU) was founded in Strasbourg in 1986 by a group of 120 young people from 11 different countries. YEU works to promote peace, understanding and cooperation between the young people of the world in a spirit of respect for human rights. YEU is an inclusive organization with specific policies related to gender perspective and they aim at having their events as a safe place for everybody to be who they are and freely express their identities. From the year 2012 to 2014, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO has been an observer member of YEU International and after two years of active cooperation, our organization has become a full member of YEU. Being a member of such an honorable and important organization fostered our development and opened many new doors for cooperation and implementation of many new ideas for young people.
The two-year workplan called “Variety is the spice of life – try walking in my shoes” was dedicated to intercultural dialogue through the gender perspective and had the aim to define new approaches, methodologies and activities in intercultural dialogue and gender diversity practices.

The first phase gathered around 50 young people from Europe and its neighboring countries. They went deeper into the topic of intercultural dialogue from gender perspective, as well as they discussed and analyzed intercultural societies through cultural traditions related to cycle of life events: birth; adulthood and death. They tried to deconstruct them and approach them with gender sensitive lenses. Apart from learning about other cultures and traditions, they have been relating each one of them to certain human and social rights and discussing the gender roles. The final idea was to develop a guidebook for youth workers, trainers and facilitators dealing with gender issues.

During the second phase, around 20 young people gathered for testing the guidebook “Variety is the spice of life” and understanding how those activities can be used in our own communities depending on cultural understanding and community needs. This guidebook is a tool for youth workers, youth organizations, and facilitators who are dealing with gender issues in their work with young people. There are three main chapters: Birth, Adulthood, and the 3rd Age. The information for these sub-topics came from the research and knowledge of the participants and teams of facilitators and trainers working with them. Each chapter consists of information related to gender issues of that life stage and a series of activities for youth organizations to use when working on gender as a subject. There are also a set of recommendations, ideas, suggestions and tips on working with this subject and the activities for workshops and training courses, etc. The guidebook contains a lot of different terms related to gender that may or may not be familiar.