Gunda Werner

The source of the Institute’s name

Gunda Werner

Gunda Werner was a philosopher, organisational developer, feminist, active as Executive Director of the FrauenAnstiftung and, until her death, a representative for gender democracy in the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

When the feminist FrauenAnstiftung organisation merged with the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 1996, Gunda Werner had a formative influence on the development of the new foundation and the concept of gender democracy with her conceptional ideas and practical involvement. She also supported the idea of a feminist institute.

Gunda Werner broke new ground in the area between feminist analysis and strategies and gender democratic organisational models. She saw the concept of gender democracy as an open, dialogical, process- and practice-oriented approach, able to make a contribution to the transformation of politics and society as well as to the reorganisation of institutions and organisations. Her viewpoint was of seminal importance to the concept of the shared task of gender democracy in the new foundation.

For us Gunda Werner represents the continuously challenging search for new institutional and organisational forms – a characteristic also reflected in the merger of the Institute for Feminism and the Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy.

We have honoured her commitment posthumously and are happy to have named the new institute after Gunda Werner, a lesbian intellectual to date virtually unknown to the public who does not correspond in the least to the mainstream of typical candidates chosen to provide names for institutions. A woman, lesbian, feminist searching for gender democracy whose academic career path was anything but straight. She thus represents precisely the unconventionality which the new institute would like to embody.

Short chronology

2007: Setting up of the Gunda Werner Institute
The Members’ Assembly of the Heinrich Böll Foundation adopts a resolution establishing statutes covering the objectives and tasks of the GWI and anchoring the new institute in the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Charter.

2006: Merger process
The Feminist Institute, run by Gitti Hentschel, and the Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy, headed by Henning von Bargen, agree on a process which will culimate in the merger of their previously separate areas of work. They are assisted in this process by the Executive Board (Barbara Unmüßig), the Women’s Council of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and by an external organisation consultant.

1998: Founding of the Feminist Institute
The “Wie weit flog die Tomate? 1968 - 1998: 68erinnen - Gala der Reflexion” (How far did the tomato fly? 1968 – 1998: female protesters of 1968 – Reflection Gala) congress is the seminal event for the founding of the Feminist Institute; a look back at the historic tomato throwing which marked the beginning of the New Women’s Movement in Germany. The Institute’s director at this time is Dr Claudia Neusüß. more»

1998: Establishment of the Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy
Gunda Werner and Henning von Bargen, the Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy team, develop a concept for the implementation of gender democracy within the organisation. The model becomes a national prototype for other institutions such as, for example, trade union ver.di.
Documents:

  • “Geschlechterdemokratie. Das Leitbild der Heinrich Böll Foundation”. By Gunda Werner and Henning von Bargen, Berlin 1999 [» pdf]
  • “Geschlechterdemokratie 2000. Zehn Thesen zur Diskussion”. By Gunda Werner, October 1999 [» pdf]

1997: Setting up of the new Heinrich Böll Foundation
When the new Heinrich Böll Foundation is set up as the result of the merger of three individual foundations, all linked to the Green party, “gender democracy” is anchored in its Charter as a shared task; a Joint Taskforce for Gender Democracy is established and the setting up of a feminist institute decided.

1987 - 1996: FrauenAnstiftung - a feminist foundation
Together with female members of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen political party in 1987 feminists found an international foundation with links to green politics. At its height the FrauenAnstiftung foundation annually assists over 1,000 women’s projects in numerous countries all over the world, as well as running a feminist scholorship programme.

When, at the request of the Green Party, it merges with the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 1997, it demands a feminist reform concept for the new joint foundation as a condition for liquidating itself. This concept comprises three central elements: consistent quotas up to executive management level; gender democracy as a shared task and the setting up of a feminist institute. Gunda Werner played a leading role in developing and implementing this reform concept, which is today an important element of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

Documents: “Leidenschaft für die unbequeme Sache. Zur Diskussion um die Gründung eines Feministischen Instituts im Rahmen der bündnisgrün-nahen Stiftung”. Hamburg 1995.

To order the document please e-mail gwi@boell.de

 

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