Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed 40 young people from Afghanistan during their study visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This study visit  was organized with  the help of Counterpart International and USAID. For many of them this was first trip out side of their own country, and also for some of them this was an opportunity to leave the province they are coming from for the first time.

For Sayara Ashory volunteer in the youth network and  a member of group  of Afhgan Women’s Writing Project. ‘ I find this program very interesting. It is like a cultural exchange. Here we got a chance to do a comparative analysis  between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan.  I like it here, because you can not tell apart just by looking at people’s faces who belongs to which group, eventhought this is a multireligious and multiethnic country. It is valuable experience since we got to talk about eduacation and politics with experts in these areas. Young people in my country are facing many challenges, but non the less they are very hard working and optimistic.  We do not have schools, education takes place in shelters. But despite this we keep on insisting on education because we are fully aware what it means for us and our future.’

Speaking about Afghanistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina from the international comunity point of view is the fact that both of these countries were used as a polygon for mayor international interventions. Unlike Afghanistan where  there are still basic challenges regarding securty and peace, eventhough billions have been invested so far in rebuilding this state. Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other hand is considered to be a good example due to the fact that conflict was resolved with peace agremeent, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered to be a safe country, said Emir Nukic Bosnian who lives in USA and works as a consultant for Counterpart International.

‘This program for young people is important because thos who have proved themselves worthy being called a lider in civil society organizations have the opportunity to exchange experiences wiht colleagues here in Bosnia and Herzegovia. This study visit enebled us to understand the relationship between cso’s and institutions as well as with the media in postconflict country. ‘The aim of this study visit is to expose them to the mistakes that have been maid here so they can be avoided in the future. Also this was an opportunity for young people to understand the mistakes that have been made by international comunity when it comes to  topics of transition and role of cso’s in peacebuilding, securty and democracry.’-said Nurkić.

There are similiraties, despite the many differences from which valuable learning lesssons can be thought. Acorrding to the information from Afghan Government, 65% of population are young people, which makes Afghanistan the youngest country in the world. However, the efforts of civil society organizations to lobby for the Youth ministry which would deal with with capacity building, identifying priorities and facilitating the return of young and educated in Afghanistan still has no visiable results. ‘ What fascinates me here are young faces I got to see in governments, municipalities and high ranked positions. This is something you can not see in Afghanistan.  Only bunch of all people with conservative ways of thinking. They do not need the change, their time hass passed and they belong to the past’- sadi Sayara.

Sandra Marie Phelps, director of youth and equality sector  at Counterpart in Kabul says that she could not think of better place for young Afghans to come and visit, other than Bosnia and Herzegovine, thanks to the great collaboration with Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

‘On basic level, this study visit is about self confidence building among these young people, exposure to new experiences and different views. Many of them have had no opportunity to travel outside Afghanistan, they have no vision what other realities look like. We provide them with skills and needs to think about their own community. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is a post conflict country, it is much easier to relate with people from Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is a lot of work to be done through out dedicated and focused approach to young people, as YIHR BIH does with their youth.’- Phelps said.

Position of women in society is one of the similarities between these two countries.. Sayara says she lost an opportunity to get a job, because she was not allowed to travel outside of the province she comes from. She was told  it is due to security reasons. ‘We have couple of seats for women in the Parliament, number of gender oriented discrimination is decreasing, but the violence towards woman increases.  According to research from 2014. number of women who get educated is increasing, and number of woman  who go abroad for Masters or PHD studies is also increasing, but regardless of this there is still lack of women in leading positions in power and high ranked positions in government.’

One of international community failures when it comes to gender issues and equalities, is exclusion of men within this process. I consider the programs which are dealing with this topics rather shallow.’ says Sandra.

‘I believe that men, especially young men are extremely important when we speak about fighting against women oppression. There is a long way a head of us, but my approach means inclusion of both women and men in these programs. Sometimes separately and sometimes in joined groups. The fact that we are living in a country where most of the population is Muslim does not justify  mistreating and degradation of women, especially taking into consideration the fact that the Prophet Himself was advocating for women’s rights also. I believe that we need to take things slowly. I do not believe that one company can change much. It takes generations to see true changes’- said Sandra.

Program that is trying to give an answer to the question wherther those who are similar but different enough can join forces and create an opportunity for the third path, a different solution. For Sayara, three words that describe this experience are peace, unity and cooperation.’

‘We are in need of young new minds, new technologies so we could bring and see some positive changes around here. That is something I have learned here and with the help of God I am coming back to my country joyfull to share all of the thoughts about the trips and to tell about all of the places we have visited in lovely Bosnia and Herzegovina. I will speak about the organizations, networks and ways of keeping in touch upon our arrival, said Sayara.