Some of the major challenges of contemporary societies include an increasingly individualized and aging society as well as increasingly multicultural populations. While family, kin and neighborhood networks are thinning out, the question of social cohesion and social values needs to be re-framed under contemporary conditions. How to live together in social peace and harmony, how to generate social care and responsibility and how to rebuild the social fabric in diverse, conflict-torn and pluralistic societies are issues underlying many of the current concerns around the isolation, alienation and anonymity of communities, the increase of violence, the re-emergence of fundamentalism, the non-engagement of youth and the lack of a pro-active civil society. How to connect with, communicate and understand each other in an increasingly fragmented and polarized society seems to be on everyone’s mind, while nobody seems to know how to really do it.
Mother Centers approach these issues by starting with women and children and by organizing on a community level. The mine network supports the linking of the Mother Center experiences from local to global as well as from global to local in an effort to bridge grassroots and mainstream cultures in the process of creating social peace, bottom up participation and sustainable communities.
Background of Mother Centers
Mother Centers are self-managed public spaces in the neighborhood, where mothers and their children meet on a daily basis. The atmosphere is informal. You join by having a cup of coffee in the coffee shop or by a visit to the Mother Center second hand store. Childcare is offered on a drop-in basis for all ages throughout the opening hours of the center. Mother Centers are based on participation. Depending on their size and how long they have been operating, Mother Centers reach between 50 and 500 families in the neighborhood. In Mother Centers women are supported to join forces to improve the life of their families and communities, connect with families from different social and cultural backgrounds, claim public space and acknowledgment for their everyday life expertise, fight poverty and social exclusion and participate in local governance. Mother Centers generate support systems in conflict and crisis situations. They create employment and access to the labor market. For children the centers create an expansion of their social and physical space and experience.
To date more than 800 Mother Centers exist worldwide. Mother Centers seem to answer a historic need. They recreate family and neighborhood structures where they have been weakened by modernization. Mother Centers represent another kind of globalisation, a globalisation from the ground. This has created the need for a global network: mine. The network stands for a world that places social cohesion and community building at the base of development, re-integrates the culture of care into public life and recognizes the central role of women in peace building and development.
- Offer direct and non bureaucratic assistance in crisis situations and emergencies
- Create a safety net for families at risk
- Empower women and contribute to gender equality
- Increase the domestic involvement and participation of fathers
- Support the reintegration of women into further education and the labor market
- Support the reconciliation of work and family
- Create alternatives to institutional eldercare
- Support the social integration of youth
- Promote children’s and family health
- Strengthen tolerance and democratic attitudes in civil society
- Revitalize neighborhoods and local culture
- Bring together citizens of diverse class and ethnic backgrounds
- Create a platform for unused talents and skills to enter society
- Bring marginalized and excluded groups into social participation
- Develop leadership potential in the community
- Create income generating opportunities
- Create a rich reservoir for informal learning
- Make the knowledge and expertise of everyday life operational for development
- Develop institutional literacy among grassroots groups
- Generate innovations in professional and institutional programs
- Are incubators for new ideas and local problem solving
Andrea Laux – Chairwoman, D
Renate Stein – Board member, AR
Ingrid Bregenzer – Board member, D
Emese Dömösi – Board member, H