medica mondiale is active as part of a diverse, transnational women's movement, within networks, and together with partner organisations working to eliminate sexualised violence and to bring about a gender-equal society.
The starting point for our work has always been the struggle to eliminate violence against women and girls during armed conflict. Since the passing of UN Resolution 1820, sexualised wartime violence has been recognised internationally as the severe violation of human rights it is. We see this type of violence as being on a continuum and an intensification of structural violence against women that is committed at a pandemic scale during peacetime as well.
The causes and reasons for violence against women can be found in patriarchal social structures. These promote a stark imbalance in power between the genders, with gender-based discrimination and the oppression of women and girls in public and private space.
„There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle
because we do not live single-issue lives.“
A fundamental part of how we identify as feminist is intersectional feminism. This acknowledges how various forms of discrimination have effects which impact upon each other and magnify each other. Basically, the risk of being subjected to sexualised violence is higher for people who suffer several types of oppression , such as, for example, those who identify as LGBTIQ, women with disabilities or women who are poor and socially disadvantaged. Another example is how armed conflicts are fuelled by both racist and sexist attitudes, which then amplify each other and are deliberately instrumentalised as a strategy of war.
As an internationally active feminist women’s rights organisation from the Global North who supports partner organisations in (post-) conflict regions in a post-colonial context, we find ourselves treading a delicate balance on many issues. This requires an ongoing, critical approach to the power differentials that arise because of this, and corresponding organisational self-reflection and development.
Reflecting upon and transforming power differentials and structures of dominance
We recognise that our feminist-political position is shaped by our privileged socio-economic reality and our majority whiteness. We recognise that there are (also) power imbalances and structures of dominance between and among women that need to be reflected upon and changed. This concerns our co-operation with international partners and also the structures and cooperation within our own organisation medica mondiale.
For this reason, we consider it essential to be part of a worldwide, emancipatory movement to work towards positive social transformation for all women – with all of our differences. We work to enhance the self-empowerment of our partners. This includes creating spaces for reflection, learning from each other, learning with each other and networking. We support strategic and organisational development processes and the diversification of funding in order to ensure that our partners enjoy increasing independence from medica mondiale.
Furthermore, as a feminist organisation we are called upon to take a self-critical approach when it comes to our responsibilities and scope for action as part of the German international co-operation and humanitarian aid sector, which funds part of our work.
In our opinion, this sector is not enacting a redistribution of resources as practical solidarity which would be necessary as a contribution to global justice. The economic and political self-interest of Germany continues to play a decisive role in determining funding policies. If this is serving a neoliberal agenda and maintaining neo-colonial structures, then it will have destabilising consequences and lead to, for example, instrumentalisation of activities that promote women’s rights.