Countering sexualised wartime violence on all levels is the task medica mondiale has set itself. The women’s rights and aid organisation based in Cologne, Germany, was founded in 1993 by Monika Hauser; this one woman’s drive and indignation were the roots of the organisation. She sees it as her personal responsibility to support survivors of sexualised wartime violence.
“I have the privileges of a European passport and a good education, and I am strong. I have to make use of these privileges to help disadvantaged women,” Monika Hauser wrote in the preface to her biography.
This ongoing and active commitment is made possible by numerous supporters.
medica mondiale has ensured that this work still continues today. The recent history of Germany and current economic and political conditions in the country play a decisive role in shaping this work:
The Federal Republic of Germany is the largest national economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the word. So it has both economic and political power as well as significant influence in the international community. The fact that Germany is one of the largest arms exporters also brings with it a particular responsibility. Both the Federal Government and the German civil society have at their disposal the resources and tools they need to have a positive influence on the conditions people all over the world are living in. One consequence of this is the obligation to respect human and women’s rights and to promote these rights in an active way.
Considering the crimes of the National Socialists, the Second World War which they provoked, and that war’s massive long-term consequences, Germany should adopt a self-critical attitude. Today is around 74 years after the end of that war, the National Socialist dictatorship and the holocaust, yet still there has been not one single speech by a German head of state concerning the millions of women raped. Nobody has erected a memorial to them and nobody has ever made any serious efforts to compensate them or deal with this part of the country’s history.
Germany has more than just a moral responsibility. It is a member of the United Nations and therefore legally obliged by relevant UN resolutions to take action against sexualised wartime violence, especially with regards to its development aid and involvement in peacekeeping missions. German policy has to include the goal of asserting the equal and inalienable rights of women and girls worldwide. At the core of this duty is the respect of dignity and the right to physical inviolability as the foundations of justice, development and peace in the world.
medica mondiale campaigns for an end to human rights violations against women and for women’s rights to be seen, protected and upheld. Values such as solidarity, humanity, a sense of responsibility and sustainability form the basis of the work at medica mondiale. The organisation’s approach is based on human rights and designed to deal with trauma which enables it to have an impact preventing crises, in turn leading to beneficial societal transformation. So the aid and women’s rights organisation can be seen to be operating in accord with the political and humanist interest of Germany in many regards.
In 2015 a large number of people from countries affected by civil war, such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, fled to Germany seeking refuge. Public debate since then has increasingly asked how people can be discouraged or prevented from fleeing to Europe. However, there has been almost no space in this debate for the issue of women and girls with their particular perspective and their specific risks, both during and after their flight. Rarely have there been any serious visible efforts to ensure real improvements in their situation. As a women’s rights and aid organisation, we are committed to supporting women and girls by demanding a feminist foreign and asylum policy.
Since 1993, medica mondiale has been campaigning to achieve more solidarity and responsibility in the fight against sexualised violence. In this regard, the women’s organisation appeals to national and international institutions and decision-makers, local authorities, communities and the general public. Humanity, sustainability and a feminist approach form the basis of this human rights work at medica mondiale.
medica mondiale has taken on the role of making sure the public and political decision-makers know about the facts, contexts and consequences relating to sexualised violence in war and crisis areas. At the same time we want to make the whole German population aware of gender-based injustice. We also encourage both men and women to assume responsibility for increasing justice in the world. With campaigns such as „My body is no battlefield“ 2018, “Time to Talk” (2005) or “In Action” (2008-2011), fundraising and protest actions, photo exhibitions and lectures, medica mondiale raises awareness and provides information about sexualised violence, its backgrounds and effects. Germany is a particular focus of this work.
medica mondiale carries out public awareness and human rights work in order to bring about societal and political changes in favour of women. At specialist events, in dialogue with politicians, in position papers and via open letters, the organisation makes its position clear regarding the issues surrounding sexualised wartime violence. It proposes tangible strategies to prevent sexualised violence, and appeals to decision makers to take appropriate action. In 2017 it was thus possible to bring about that the development of a trauma-sensitive approach was included in the new action plan from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ). medica mondiale has also published scientific studies and documentation on topics such as the treatment of female witnesses at international courts (2009) or the long-term consequences of war rape of survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014), gaining a reputation as an internationally recognised expert in the field of gender justice. In this role, medica mondiale urges politicians and governments around the world to comply with international agreements to ensure preventive protection for women against sexualised violence. The organisation repeatedly demands a more effective implementation of the UN Resolutions 1325 and 1820. These prescribe a stronger representation of women in peace processes and the guarantee of women's security as a direct prerequisite for sustainable peace in our world.
Patriarchal attitudes and power structures are the source of violence and make it more difficult to overcome traumatic experiences. By training qualified experts, our aim is to enable them to adopt a stress and trauma-sensitive approach in dealing with those affected by violence. medica mondiale offers training courses on ways to deal with the consequences of violence and traumatisation – in project countries and in Germany. Discussions, group work and role play introduce relevant methods to the participants, showing them how to support women affected by violence to process their traumatic experiences even without professional therapeutic skills. These training sessions are primarily designed for women and men working with refugees or in the humanitarian and development co-operation fields. Participants include social workers, lawyers, healthcare professionals and psychologists, as well as students and trainees.
In its head office in Cologne, medica mondiale brings together a team of female experts with a range of different skills, such as trauma work, project coordination and finances. Together they all make sure that women survivors receive integrated, interdisciplinary support. Their tasks include advising projects during start-up and implementation, passing on their knowledge in training sessions, and monitoring the use of funding. The aim of the work here is to strengthen the expertise and capacity of the local staff in the project countries. Interregional programmes that focus on one sector, promote joint learning processes through the communication between partner organisations.
In order to provide effective support for women and girls affected by violence in war and crisis zones, medica mondiale conducts regular impact monitoring and evaluation. Independent consultants and our own staff visit the project countries and check the results of our work by means of interviews, expert discussions or workshops. The same is true for our work in Germany.
A large part of the funding for medica mondiale comes from donations, with some funds also coming from the public sector. Private donations are essential to our success. They enable us to act true to the spirit of our commitment and independently of external funding stipulations. Fundraising letters, information stands, the donors’ magazine “memo” and the website are all used by medica mondiale to inform its supporters and donors of all the latest developments. Public and private funding also plays an essential role, with the most significant sponsors being the German Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Society for International Co-operation (GIZ), KfW (the German development bank) and individual German cities, federal state governments and foundations.
(status of 2017)