Who we are

We are a feminist political group fighting and documenting everyday violence, racism, sexism, patriarchy and all kinds of discrimination. Our group is a mixed group including migrant, refugee and non-migrant women.

IWS was founded in December 2012 as part of the occupation by refugees of the former Gerhart-Hauptmann School in Kreuzberg, Berlin. There we created a Women’s Space, which remained open until the summer of 2014. It worked to form a women’s front in the refugee movement, where the fight against both racism and sexism together became visible.

8th March Demo 2016

What we do

The history of women’s resistance is hidden and ignored. We are taking the responsibility of documenting our own history through writing, telling and passing on these stories in our own words.

We demand the right of women to be granted asylum on specific gender-persecution grounds, e.g.: female genital mutilation, violence against women, rape, forced marriages, etc., without fear of removal or deportation.

To realize our demands we work with different women’s groups and speak out publicly about our situation. We achieve this by organizing demonstrations, talks, speeches, and by coming together with women to share our experiences and stories.

We are fed up of people speaking about us and not with us!

We are creating visibility for the situation of women who have migrated to Germany, by:

Recording and publishing interviews and testimonies of women

Book: IN OUR OWN WORDS | Our Stories

Speaking at conferences and demonstrations

Collecting and sharing articles about the situation of refugee women in Germany and Europe

The International Women Space was born as a group inside the refugee occupation of the former Gehart-Hauptmann School in December of 2012. The story of this occupation begun with the suicide of Mohammad Rahsepar, an Iranian who was seeking asylum in Germany and hung himself in a Heim in Würzburg, Bavaria. After this tragical death, a group of refugees from the same area decided to protest by marching more than 600 kilometers from Würzburg to Berlin.

In October, the 6th, the March arrived in Berlin where a Camp in Oranienplatz, district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg was already being built to welcome the refugees. A few months later, in December, the movement of refugees decided to occupy the former Gehart-Hauptmann School, which was empty and was near to Oranienplatz.

Not longer than a week after the occupation, the women activists of the movement, announced we were reserving a few rooms on the second floor only for women. During 17 months many women passed through the Women Space, many lived there, others came to attend the meetings, the workshops, the german classes amongst other activities we regularly organised.

In July 2014, the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg made an offer to the school’s inhabitants: they could move to special refugee houses (Heim) for a certain time. Around a thousand police officers were called to help securing the area during the moving out of the people. Not everybody accepted the offer. Around 40 people decided to resist inside the house in order to keep the space and continuing on developing the idea of creating a self-organized International Refugee Center. The resistance lasted 9 days and in the end an agreement between the refugees living in the school and the district was signed. (see agreement on the link to video “Nine Days on the Roof“).

For us women of the International Women Space the whole process of leaving the house and imagining how to continue in another place was hard. It was not only the question of finding a new place, but more important: to re-channel our energies to ourselves as migrant and refugee women, as women of colour, as third-world feminists in full agreement with Audre Lorde „For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.“