Young Man Initiative

Who are we? 

Young Men Initiative (YMI) is a regional platform of organizations, convened by CARE International Balkans. It started as a project in 2006 and it is being implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. 

It builds on CARE´s comprehensive and programmatic efforts to prevent interpersonal and gender-based violence as well as to promote gender equality in the region.  

For over a decade, YMI has been targeting youth to build their knowledge and attitudes concerning gender equality, violence and healthy lifestyles and to decrease levels of all types of violence.  

Since the beginning, over 10 000 high-school students from 130 communities participated in gender transformative programs that CARE implemented in cooperation with local partners. Over the years, we have cooperated with a variety of stakeholders and realized that there is an emerging need for embracing a joint approach toward this sensitive topic in the Balkans. 

From 2007 to the present, Young Men Initiative (YMI) has been working to build more gender-equitable attitudes and behaviours amongst young men and decrease both violence by young men (against young women) and peer violence (violence by young men against other young men). 

Mission of YMI is to address gender inequalities and promote healthy versions of masculinities and manhood in order to help young men reach their full potential in society and to help prevent violence and promote healthy lifestyles among young men and women.  


YMI’s success has also been recognized by the international as well as national communities in a form of different awards: 

  • 2010 – The best social norms campaign – by Serbian Association for Public Relations 
  • 2016 – 1st Ron Kovic Peace Prize at My Hero International Film Festival for the film “Post War Machismo: Be a Men” done by Thompson Reuters Foundation which made a short documentary about BMC member from Banja Luka, Dragan Kisin.  
  • 2017 Global Education Network Europe Award for an outstanding contribution to innovation in Global Education.  

YMI started with a small size qualitative research exploring young men`s attitudes and behaviours. Over the years, it grew into a comprehensive program that involves working with different stakeholders, including young people, teachers, parents, institutions and relevant experts. As a result of ongoing work, CARE and partners developed gender transformative programmes for different target groups such as program for working with fathers, young people, girls, journalists…To find out more about development of YMI, check Program Development

Our youth work principles: 

Respect for young people 

  • Listen to young people 
  • Engage in dialogue 
  • Learn from them 
  • Value young people’s points of view 
  • Recognize that young people may have a different perspective from other age groups 
  • Respect individuality…reject negative labels 
  • Recognizing young people’s rights to liberty and equality and to be treated with dignity 
  • Promote positive images and opportunities for young people 
  • Challenge negative stereotypes of young people 
  • Be open and honest with young people 

Voluntary participation 

  • Allow young people to choose to participate 
  • Create welcoming environments and positive activities 
  • Keep young people informed about opportunities and resources 
  • Provide opportunities for young people to take responsibility for choice and decisions in their lives 
  • Enable young people to have a voice, participate in decision making and address issues that affect them 


  • Recognize that youth work is for the benefit of all young people and particularly for those young people whose human rights are at risk 
  • See youth work as an agency for change and challenge the status quo 
  • Take positive steps to address oppression and the effects of oppression 
  • Respect differences and build bridges between different groups and individuals 
  • Inform others about oppressive language, attitudes, practices and structures 


  • Recognize that young people may disclose information to youth workers that they are not ready to tell others 
  • Prior to disclosure inform young people of any boundaries to confidentiality, especially any situations that could require further intervention 

Ethical practice 

  • Always seek out opportunities to improve practice 
  • Be reliable and trustworthy 
  • Maintain youth work values and principles 

Supported by

© Young Men Initiative - All rights reserved - 2023