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Without girls? Without me! – The Girls’Empowermen Programme

[Translate to English:]

”The most important learning for us was that we can achieve and change something. And that we are taken seriously if we take ourselves seriously.”

Girls group Holla e.V. in Cologne


“The empowerment of girls requires their active participation in decision making processes.” – extract from the UN resolution dated 19 December 2011 on the occasion of the International Girls’ Day.
Girls are powerful. But often external and internal barriers lead to situations where they can’t or are not allowed to develop and live up to their full potential. The result is: Too many girls, in particular girls that suffer from more than one form of discrimination, remain “invisible” – also in Germany.

Since 2012 filia’s Girls’EmpowermentProgramme has offered opportunities to change this. Our aim is that in the future more young women deal with responsibility and money, that they defend themselves against attacks and confidently move into the driving seat!

Girls powered by filia – in three ways:

  • In Germany, filia exclusively funds projects from and for girls and young women.
  • In the filia Girls’ Council young women who are between 14 and 21 years old co-decide which projects should be funded.
  • Members of the Girls’ Council speak for themselves and express their views in the public.

1. filia supports projects from and for girls and young women

“filia is a synonym for quality. The funding of a project by the filia Girls’ Council is a distinction. The projects funded by filia are exemplary for how good work geared towards girls can be done.”

Zitat Beate Vinke, managing director of the “LAG Mädchenarbeit in Nordrhein-Westfalen“ (working group geared towards girls of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia):

All projects have something in common: Girls and young women who suffer from more than one form of discrimination – not only because of their gender but also because their skin has a different colour, they have a different religion than the majority, their families are from a different country, they have a handicap or they fall in love with other women and girls – play the leading role in the projects.

Through the projects girls and young women experience what they are able to do, they learn something new which helps them to become more autonomous and liberated and they get a better understanding of their rights.

They explore their own view of the world, express those views in their own ways and become visible and audible. Projects funded by filia have an impact on the public.

2. In the filia Girls’ Council young women co-decide which projects to fund

One call of social movements is “Nothing about us without us.” Since 2012, the filia Girls’ Council has co-decided which girls’ projects should be funded:

The target group of the projects are mainly girls who suffer from more than one form of discrimination. Such girls are also represented on the Girls’ Council. They are black young women, young women of colour, with handicap, lesbian girls, young women with Muslim, Christian and Buddhist believe, with Egyptian, Chinese, Kurdish, Namibian… ancestors and Roma girls.

Since its inception in 2012, the girls on the filia Girls’ Council have taken on more responsibility from year to year.  They have designed their own logo, decide on an annual basis who should join the Council when a girl leaves, select which project proposals should be discussed in detail, facilitate the Girls’ Council weekend and discuss with the women of the Foundation Board how they can participate more in the activities of the foundation.

When girls and young women work together for the benefit of others, they also benefit themselves. Or how Francesca (18) from Saxony-Anhalt puts it: “By supporting others you empower yourself.”
Good examples are followed by others: In 2014 the Hil-Foundation applied the model of the filia Girls’ Council in Austria and started the girls’ programme “Making a real difference – girls design the future”.

Since 2015 the Girls’Empowerment Programme has gone international: co-operations, German-Georgian Exchange.

3. Members of the Girls’ Council speak for themselves and express their views in the public

“Next to selecting projects to be funded, public relations work is an important aspect of what we do. While I learnt to form and in particular to express my own opinion during the Girl’s Council weekend, the visibility in the public provides  a special opportunity to be proud of what you have done and what has been achieved through the project grants.“

Maya Marie N., 20 years old, member of the Girls’ Council:

Providing girls and young women with visibility and a voice: Members of the Girls’ Council speak for themselves during events, in radio interviews and on TV expressing their perspectives and views most effectively. And it is fun and generates a lot of positive feedback.
In 2015, they were awarded the “Golden Shell” at the women’s music festival L-Beach.