Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

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AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
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Johanna”Mädchen*treff” is an autonomous youth center for girls between 13-20 in Cologne/Germany. The Peace Institute’s Fair Sex and Open Doors staff had the chance to meet youth worker Johanna Schmitz who presented the center’s causes and activities at the Peace Institute on 31 October 2013.

Mädchen*treff is an independent part of the cultural center “Alte Feuerwache” , which was established with its basis in the second feminist wave in Germany in the 1980s to create a space for girls at a time when youth work in general was dominated to a large extent by boys and men. One of the center’s goals is to empower girls as individual and give them confidence in their personal capacities and skills, to create a space for reflection, dialogue and communication and to foster intercultural dialogue. The center’s work is based on solidarity, participation, a norm- and category-critical approach as well as anti-sexism and anti-racism. 


Johanna, who has a background in special education, also conducts research at the University of Cologne on the position of transsexual persons in feminist youth work and how queer feminist perspectives affect youth work in Germany. Johanna appreciated the opportunity to discuss norm-critical perspectives with the Peace Institute’s staff and contemplated that there are too few opportunities to network and exchange experiences even on the local level.
Mädchen*treff is open between Mondays and Thursdays from 13.00 to 20.00 and offers, in addition to different leisure activities, also lunch and homework support. In Germany youth work for girls with an empowerment perspective has found legal recognition on the federal level and there are girl centers or rooms for girls only as well as activities for girls with an empowerment perspective in most cities in Germany.

Read more about the center (in German) here.