Insights

12/08/2021

Gülhanım volunteers to offer culturally and religiously sensitive counselling for women

Gülhanım has lived in Berlin for more than 44 years. She wants to tackle the problems she sees in Berlin and in society and support women. That's why she founded the association Begegnungs- und Bildungszentrum für Frauen und Familien (BBF) e.V. (Meeting and Education Centre for Women and Families) in 2019 and has been volunteering full-time ever since. The association offers culturally and religiously sensitive counselling on a wide range of topics, including help against domestic violence.

© Ceyda Cerkes

My name is Gülhanım. I studied social work. My main job is as a couple and sex therapist. Currently, I am a full-time volunteer at BBF e.V. The reason why we founded the association was that we realised that women are not equal in society.  That's why we said: We want to be self-determined autonomous women and found our own association. We want to interfere socially, politically, socially but also legally and thus achieve something. We don't want people to talk about us, we want people to talk to us and we want to have a say. In Berlin and in Germany. We are a women-only association. It is important to us that we are diverse women - no matter what culture, religion or origin. You can see that in our logo: the open door.  

We also address domestic violence, for example, but also racist and religiously motivated discrimination. We want to empower women, educate them and give them advice.  The focus is on women, but we also consider the family, because if we only empower the women and don't take the men with us, there are more conflicts at home than finding a solution together. We offer women a "save space", a protected space. I simply want to support these women, to strengthen them. The feedback from these women is overwhelming. They know that they can confide in us, that we understand them. 

We also build bridges between authorities such as the youth welfare office and the women. Our association also fulfils a networking function. We have been well networked with the police for many years. That's why I was recently in the USA (Philadelphia) as a representative for our association, together with the police, for an exchange. What makes us special and perhaps distinguishes us from others: We react in a culturally sensitive way. Many women have different difficulties due to religion or origin or education or sexual orientation. We can offer counselling accordingly.   

At the moment, there are actively 23 people who support me. But everything is done on a voluntary basis: bookkeeping, organisation, handicraft-crochet projects, International Women's Day and empowerment workshops. We also organise festivals. Through the festivals we try to reach women, for example by addressing taboo topics, giving a 10-minute input and thus creating a space for meetings and exchange.  

Before Corona, we did a weekly women's encounter café. Through Corona we have taken a step backwards. Many women have stayed away, because it is difficult for many over the phone or Zoom. We have lost many women and are now in the process of getting back on our feet.  Fortunately, we have found another association whose premises we can use for free. 

BBF e.V.  „BBF - Begegnungs- und Bildungszentrum für Frauen & Familien“   

BBF e.V. are women* who know the importance and strength of their connection and are there for each other. They want to advance Muslim welfare, support women* in particular, but also families, empower them and grow together. Therefore, they have founded the association "BBF - Meeting and Education Centre for Women* & Families".

Women* are often not involved enough in social decision-making processes. For this reason, the association wants to interfere and get involved in order to improve social, political, social and legal participation.

Social work to help shape Muslim welfare is one of our core tasks. To this end, we would like to work together with all relevant cooperation partners such as authorities, associations, universities/academies, etc.

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