Context

Like many other European societies, Sweden faces challenges related to social exclusion and integration. From 2012 to 2013, the district of Tensta, a suburb of Stockholm that is home to a large number of immigrants, experienced social unrest and protests. Young people took an active part, demanding that their voices be heard. These incidents brought to light a significant gap between people with an immigrant background and other Swedes. Many Swedes perceive Tensta and other marginalized communities, as some of the most dangerous areas in the country and are often portrayed negatively in the media. Its residents, however, are proud to live in such a multicultural and diverse environment. This gap in perception has become an obstacle to social cohesion.

In 2014, Interpeace launched a pilot project, entitled Changes for Tensta, which engaged residents and members of local government and civil society in a process to better understand the sources of tension and to identify options to address them. A report and video capture the hopes and dreams of the residents. Building on the Change for Tensta initiative and the insights it yielded, Interpeace launched a project seeking to assist Swedish society in promoting a more inclusive culture. Through consultations in different areas of Sweden and a public engagement strategy, the ‘We are Sverige’ initiative sheds light on what inclusion means to various local communities and explores how all Swedes can contribute to making their society more inclusive.



Goal

Interpeace’s work in Sweden has centred on empowering marginalized communities in and around major cities, such as Stockholm and Malmö.



Bridging the gap between marginalized youth and decision-makers

In 2017, Interpeace launched the project “Hear me out! – A platform for young voices”. The project entailed a workshop series focusing on democratic participation and engagement, effective communication and dialogue between youth, the police, local authorities and influencers. Following the first capacity building workshops and dialogue session between youth and decision-makers and authorities, 75% of youth reported being more comfortable in presenting their ideas and opinions and 44% of youth reported increased trust engaging with the police as a result of the workshops. These results are highly encouraging in a context where youth often feel mistrust towards state authorities and excluded from constructive decision-making processes.

Resources