Empowerment: Between Theory and Practice
This publication serves as a call to action for organisations to engage in uncomfortable and honest discussions in order to address structural problems and realise true intersectional solidarity. It is a must-read for those who are committed to true empowerment and growth in their feminist endeavours.
Earnest participation is possible if the organization in question really wants it and has the courage, understanding and openness to give decision-making power to people with different perspectives, competencies and life experiences. In Empowerment: Between Theory and Practice, Najwa Ahmed reflects on the experiences that Najwa and eight other activists have gained as advisory board members for filia.die frauenstiftung in the Empowerment Program for Refugee Women*.
Empowerment: Between Theory and Practice – a gift for filia
Empowerment: Between Theory and Practice celebrates filia’s Empowerment Program for Refugee Women*. Nevertheless, the book also reflects it critically. For filia, this criticism is valuable. Because it gives us important impulses on how we can and must further develop our work. That is why this book is a gift for filia.
For more than ten years, we have gained experience with participatory funding practices in our empowerment programs: since 2012 in the Girls’ Empowerment Program, and since 2020 also in the Empowerment Program for Refugee Women*. filia was thus one of the first foundations in Germany to integrate the participation of activists in its funding practices.
With the Empowerment Program for Refugee Women*, filia supports self-organized initiatives by and with refugee and migrant women and LBTIQ+. An advisory board consisting of migrant and refugee activists selects the projects to be funded. filia is proud of this participatory grantmaking practice.
For some time now, the advisory board has been telling us that this practice is not sufficient to implement empowerment and participation at all levels. In this book, Najwa Ahmed from the advisory board of the Empowerment Program for Refugee Women* analyzes, based on exchange and conversations, which experiences the advisory board members have made and which problems they see.
Critically reflecting on our participatory funding practices
filia is currently undergoing an organizational development process. This includes self-critically reviewing our work and having it reviewed by others. This is exactly what happens in this book. The participatory funding practice that filia has achieved so far is acknowledged. Its positive effects are described. At the same time, the book reflects critically on filia’s ways of acting.
We know that questioning what we previously thought was good is an inevitable step for further development. We want to be allies in the fight against racism, classism and other mechanisms of discrimination. For this, enduring diversity and contradictions is the prerequisite.
We thank Najwa Ahmed and all those involved in this publication for their work and wish all readers* enjoyment and inspiration while reading.