Focus on Strengthening Democracies
Without equal participation of women, girls and LBTIQ+ there is no democracy. By 2030, Development Goal No. 5: “Equality for all genders” should be achieved in 193 UN states. filia sees itself as an outcome of the women’s movement, supports women’s organizations that want to make structural changes, connects partners or participates in networks that work to bring women and girls into decision-making positions, to make their voices heard, their positions visible. But with the increasing success of the women’s movement, an anti-feminist movement is forming and the headwind is getting stronger.
Empowering women and girls – enabling participation
The theme of participation and the promotion of democracy runs as a cross-section through all of filia’s funding programs. Strengthening the participation of women and girls at all levels of society means more creative power, responsibility and influence. In addition, filia has embarked on the path to structural co-determination: In advisory boards of young women and FLINTA and refugees, women* and girls* co-select projects according to the motto: “Nothing about us without us.” Strengthening the participation of women and girls means strengthening democracy.
Joint strategies against anti-feminism
The cooperation with and support of partners from Central and Eastern Europe has been a focus of our work since our founding in 2001. In some countries of Central and Eastern Europe, however, the hands of the equality clocks are currently being set back again. Anti-feminism has many faces. Conservative governments pass senseless regulations and anti-women laws, populist media defame, and anti-feminist groups exert violence with smear campaigns and also directly on the streets. Their goal is to hinder the work of women’s groups and activists and to pit their vision of a free, more just world against traditional values, family values and an alleged “national culture”. Especially smaller organizations, which do not yet have international and few national networks, urgently need strengthening through information and the provision of tools. The issue of limiting civil society organizations concerns everyone who supports democracy development and civil society participation.
Strengthening democracies through global networking
In the worldwide women’s foundations network Prospera, women’s foundations exchange information about developments in their countries. As the problems of anti-feminism are on the rise, it has become increasingly important to join forces and acquire external funding to be able to set up cooperation projects. The women’s foundations from Prospera are ideal cooperation partners for filia: supported by a common feminist vision and well connected to grassroots groups in their own countries. Here filia has a different role to play: if we usually support the ideas and projects that women and girls develop and realize themselves, here we are, initiators, and also triggers.
Other cooperation projects
Together with sister foundations worldwide, we develop cooperations that defend the values of democracy and counteract the increasingly strong antifeminist headwind. we have to be loud and public, strengthen the abilities of the participants to develop feminist messages. The campaign project “Grassroots Women Mobilize Together for Democracy”, which was developed together with the women’s foundations from Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine and then implemented with grassroots women organizations, has moved and inspired everyone greatly. It has enabled research that sheds light on the “sinister darkness” of anti-feminist alliances, analyzes their arguments, and thus also reclaims interpretive authority.
Insights into our Project Archive
Current Projects in the Focus “Strengthening Democracies”
Feminist Grassroots in the Western Balkans
Not only Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, but also the current resurgence of conflict in the Western Balkans shows us that warlike conflicts are still part of everyday life for many people in Europe. In addition, the Russian government is deliberately trying to consolidate pro-Russian forces and strengthen anti-democratic attitudes in Southeastern Europe through disinformation and conspiracy narratives. In addition, there are challenges posed by the aftermath of the Corona pandemic, the climate crisis, and the resulting economic crisis. Women, girls and LGBTIQ+ are most affected by the negative impacts of these developments.
We know from studies that strong, independent feminist grassroots organizations are a crucial factor for social change. Feminist activists are experts on the concerns of women, girls and LGBTIQ+ and they know what it takes on the ground to improve the situation for all. In the Western Balkans, numerous feminist organizations have been formed in recent years, which work locally on solutions for a democratic and peaceful coexistence and which are committed to a change in social consciousness. At the same time, they are also coming under greater pressure because right-wing nationalist parties and anti-feminist groups are threatening their work – with bureaucratic hurdles, propaganda that stokes fears, and even violent attacks. The goal of the project “Feminist Grassroots in the Western Balkans” is to strengthen and sustain the work of these feminist groups. filia cooperates with three other women’s funds for the project: the Ecumenical Women’s Initiative (EWI) based in Croatia, the Reconstruction Women’s Fund (RWF) in Serbia and the Bulgarian Fund for Women (BFW).
The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Feminist Resilience – Strengthening the resilience of women’s rights organizations
The goal of this cooperative project between women’s foundations in Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine and Germany is to strengthen the institutional, collective and individual resilience of feminist organizations and activists in the long term. Feminist organizations and activists are coming under increasing pressure internationally. They experience undue strain – as individuals who are often discriminated against on the basis of their gender and other characteristics, as well as collectively as groups of people who challenge existing power relations and thus make themselves targets of violence and hostility. Last but not least, feminist organizations are also institutionally strained and overburdened. They are massively underfunded, harassed by right-wing populist governments and threatened by anti-feminist groups.
In the first year, the project focuses on assessing needs: In joint discussions, the participating women’s foundations take a close look at the current situation. The respective social contexts in the countries also play an important role. With professional support, they are jointly developing a study on the resilience of women’s organizations, and women’s organizations in all four countries are invited to participate. At a kick-off meeting in Armenia, the program directors of the foundations developed the structure of a meaningful study. Building on this, the foundations offer internal team training and continue to develop their working methods.
This cooperation project is also funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
On the right Track
“On the right Track” is a cooperation of 19 women’s funds from Europe and Latin America. Together the funds are supporting feminist grassroots organisations in developing strategies against the increasing anti-feminist shift to the right. The project addresses issues that are targets of the right, such as questions of sexual self-determination, LBTIQ+ visibility, or anti-racist networking. However, direct actions against the right can also be conceived within the framework of “On the right Track”.
filia.die frauenstiftung supports the following organizations as part of “On the right Track”:
Ar(c)tivist well-being and resilience collective – Belarus
The Belarussian collective is initiated by a group of activists and culture workers from Belarus who understand the meaning and vulnerability of ‘marginalized groups’. The collective supports Belarussians who have faced repressions to take part in a wide range of practices that help both individuals and communities move forward – regardless extremely toxic environment in Belarus. It provides support by for example creating a temporary safe space for people who have been in a prolonged situation of extreme pressure or providing participants with simple and accessible practices for regaining balance and for self care.
Tranzycja.pl – Poland
Tranzycja.pl is a collaborative knowledge repository focused on empowering the Polish transgender community. Tranzycja.pl’s main activities consist of updating their website and social media with information relating to the process of transition, monitoring political landscape, countering anti-trans narratives, and debunking disinformation. Tranzycja.pl educates the community, as well as professionals working with trans people on a multitude of medical, legal and political subjects. Tranzycja.pl also emphasizes popularization of trans history, proper codes of conduct for trans-inclusive hiring processes and good practices among professionals such as psychologists.
Women’s Center. Shushi – Armenia
The Women’s Center. Shushi is a feminist organization working with and for women. Its
main goal is to give women the necessary tools and empower them to become active citizens in their community through education and support. “WC.Sh” is working in the area of women’s human rights, reproductive and sexual rights and health, violence against women and women’s role in the conflict resolution and peacebuilding process.
GrlzWave – Georgia
GrlzWave is a women-led, youth-led organization based in Tbilisi, Georgia. GrlzWave aims to empower women and marginalized groups increasing their representation in today’s society. Starting open discussions about gender inequality, disabilities, discrimination, gender-based violence, sex education, etc., is a way of resistance of GrlzWave, destroying stigmas and reducing stereotypes. Through their educational content, GrlzWave raises awareness and counter false beliefs and misbehaviors spread among Georgian society. GrlzWave encourages their target groups to amplify their voices and bring attention to feminist visions to support development. GrlzWave creates safe spaces for people to share their challenges and experiences and support each other without hate speech.
Feminist Workshop – Ukraine
Feminist Workshop is a community-based feminist organization in Ukraine. Feminist Workshop encourages women on their activist journey from the first steps to creating their own projects. Feminist Workshop organizes close and public educational events and non-formal meetings. They create media content and organize common meetings with opinion leaders. Feminist Workshop faces attacks on their activities from conservative anti-right activists and fights back regularly. Through their activities, Feminist Workshop demonstrates to civil society that the protection of women’s rights is possible even in times of crisis, in particular during the ongoing war.
Center for women and children Viktorija – Serbia
The goals of the Center for women and children Viktorija are the protection of human rights, with an emphasis on women’s rights of Roma women at the local level, the retention of as many Roma children as possible in primary and secondary schools, as well as the improvement of health and social protection of Roma women and children. The current focus of the center’s work is on sexual and reproductive rights and empowerment of women and girls: organizing workshops to strengthen awareness concerning the danger of underage marriages or the importance of regular visits at a gynecologist.