Nova Youth Center – a place full of youths and gender awareness

One of the main focuses during those two weeks, that our Zambian guests are visiting Sweden, is to meet up with other organisations working in the same field, or with the same target group. So one Thursday evening we went to learn more about Nova Youth Center – a youth center on Lidingö, welcoming everyone, but focusing on girls and activities chosen by girls.

All of us visiting Nova Youth Center

All of us visiting Nova Youth Center

– From the beginning I found it weird to hear that they arrange a girl’s evening, once a week, where they only let girls in. But I understand now that it’s a way to reach girls that won’t come at all. Also from Zambia I have the experience that it’s more often the boys that comes to the Youth Centers, says Bruce Mubanga, the SweZam youth organiser, who is visiting Nova for the first time.

The pink sports hall

We are on a guided tour in the pink sports hall at the Youth Center.

Through a guided tour at the center we got to know that the sports hall newly has been painted pink, to create a more feminized space. We found that the male youth leaders as often as they can, tries to involve the boys when baking cakes, and that the female youth leaders takes the girls along when they are about to arrange the sound system for the disco.

– These small things are not a goal in itself, it’s merely a way to reach a more gender equal environment for the youths, and create a wider range of choices for both sexes, says Frida Larsson, youth leader at Nova, with a special training in gender.

Linda talking to a girl

Linda is talking to a girl, sharing experiences between Sweden and Zambia!

This evening at Nova, there are about fifteen youths visiting, and they are a little bit shy at first, but when the Zambian guests are offered some Swedish “sill” to eat, the youths sneak closer to have a look.  After a short while, a girl is laughing with Linda, some youths are playing pool with Bruce, and Don finds himself trying to learn Swedish through some of the norm critical cartoons put up on the wall. All of them with small hand written questions added by Frida to the youths, trying to make them think a little bit further and see the world in a new way.

– Through a gender equality project at my work place, in 2004, I slowly started to see the world differently and so the strategy here at Nova was created, says Petri Peltonen, head of Nova Youth Center. Statistics show that 70 % of the resources at Youth Centres normally go to activities targeting boys, and here we want to balance that up a little bit!

Bruce and some boys

Bruce is enjoying talking to some young people at the Youth Center

Bruce suddently comes out of the sports hall, totally sweaty, after playing basketball with the youths:
– This place is amazing! What if we had those resources in Zambia! Imagine what could happen! The youths wouldn’t have to go around without anywhere to go, using drugs, practising unsafe sex because of boredom or drinking alcohol!

Text: Ylva Werlinder, SweZam board


  1. Don Mwindilia
    Posted 09 mars 2010 at 2:59 e m | Permalink

    Hi, it is good you are updating the website.
    But I would suggest that should time allow, please find a way of putting a lot more things. For example, the youth leaders can be asked to write articles on how they are working with the school clubs and then be posted to the website. In other words, I would suggest that if it is possible, open a part for youths where the youths may be able to post their views, expectations, comments and way fowards.

    Thank you and take care.

  2. Ylva Werlinder
    Posted 10 mars 2010 at 12:12 e m | Permalink

    Hi Don!
    How great of you to write a comment! Not many paople do that. It is a good idea, but I am not sure though how it will be possible to make it happen. I will pass your question on.

    Do you think that many of the youths are interested in putting up articles?

    All the best.

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