MINE Background

Mother Centers – A Success Story
Mother Centers are a success story. In only two decades they have spread via peer exchange and self help to 20 countries. To date more than 850 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, (Western Europe, USA), by socialist regimes (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria), by war (Bosnia, Rwanda), by poverty and aids (Cameroon).
Mother Centers are spreading around the world “like a positive virus”. They represent another kind of globalisation, a globalisation from the ground. This has created the need for a global network: mine.

Born out of research

The Mother Center concept was developed by the German Youth Institute (hereinafter DJI) in the early eighties as the result of a research project. DJI’s rationale: It is cheaper and more far reaching to invest in preventive policies, than to pay the high costs when family socialization has already become dysfunctional. It is more effective to support families to access their own assets and resources in order to help themselves and each other. The Family Department of the German Government funded the first three model Mother Centers as a pilot project for three years. Following the federal pilot phase DJI made the Mother Center concept sustainable: by stimulating legislative reform to include resourcing of family self help initiatives as part of municipal family welfare programs by negotiating funds from private foundations as well as municipal and regional governments by advocating for the concept of self help in parent education by publishing the results in an accessible story-telling format, written by the women of the first three model centers. The Mother Center book has since been translated into English and Czech. You can order copies at info(at)mine.cc.


Monika Jaeckel, a former researcher at DJI, a mother of the MC idea, a co-founder of mine network and its first chair. www.monikajaeckel.com 


1985 The first edition of the Mother Center Book is published by Goldmann Ratgeber in Germany.

1989 Mother Centers are founding members of GROOTS (Grassroots Women’s Organizations Organizing Together in Sisterhood).

1995 Mother Centers participate in the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.

1995 Inauguration of the Huairou Commission at the Grassroots Tent during the NGO World Conference on Women in Huairou, China. Grassroots groups are officially invited for the first time to partner with the UN.

1996 Mother Centers partner with the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work in Turkey to organize childcare at Habitat II in Istanbul, the first ever childcare offered at a UN International Conference

1997 The UNCHS Scroll of Honor Award goes for the first time to Germany – to the Stuttgart Mother Center.

1999 The National Network of Czech Mother Centers is founded, coordinating over 150 Mother Centers in the Czech Republic.

2000 The SOS Mother Center Salzgitter becomes registered world-wide project of Expo 2000. mine is founded and registered in Munich, Germany. Members of mine initiate the Grassroots Women’s International Academy (GWIA) at Expo 2000.

2001 The first Mother Center in Africa is founded in Nairobi, Kenya.

2002 The first Aboriginal Mother Center is founded in Vancouver, Canada. mine receives the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.

2003 mine engages in start up support and documentation of the first 3 Mother Centers in Bosnia-Herzegowina. mine initiates the Nest! Project: a study on urban development on the basis of Mother Center principles.

2004 mine is selected for the UN Habitat Best Practices exhibition at the Cultural Forum in Barcelona - Local to local Eltern- Kind-Zentrum Stuttgart and Muetterforum Baden Wuerttemberg, Network of Mothercenters Czech Republic (2006) in Partnership the Huairou Commission and mine in the case of Stuttgart - Johannesburg Conference member of mine board as part of the Huairou and GROOTS international - Vancouver supporting MC mine board members - Barcelona Grassroots Women International Academy and WUF 2 mine in partnership with Huairou Commission, GROOTS intern.

2005 Developing and strengthening Mother Centers in Bosnia. A mine project with Muetterforum Baden Wuerttemberg, funded by Bosch Foundation Stuttgart, together with Mother Center in Zavidovici, Sanski Most and Sarajevo - India organisational development meeting and strategic planning GROOTS international participation of board member of mine

2006 Vancouver Grassroots Women International Academy and WUF 3. Huairou Commission, GROOTS intern. mine members and board participated - Research: Not the chicken, not the egg but the Nest! – How the principles underlying the MC movement can be transferred to urban planning and city development -“Move the pram, move the world” – 6 countries made a Guinness world record in the highest number of participant, moving prams (an initiative of UMC Slovakia in partnership with mine and different national or regional networks of Mother Centers) 

2007 Mile for mothers  – annual celebrating motherhood (an initiative of UMC Slovakia) • Campaign: How do we want to raise our children (2006 and 2009) (an initiative of UMC Slovakia with mine and Bernard van Leer Foundation) • Initiating MC in Roma communities (2007) – Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Macedonia initiated by Spolu and mine in partnership with national networks of mothercenters • 2007 India Huairou Commision meeting •

2008 Nepal workshop on Mother Center for Katmandu and Butwal, mine trainers with Practical Action UK • Grundtvig project: GWIA and Peer Learning Strategy applied to MC movement (2007 – 2009); Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Rupublic, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain Turkey • 2008 ARM Conference on Motherhood Toronto Canadian Aboriginal MC founder representative and a founder of mine attended • 2008 Impact studies on influence of MC on mothers, children, families and society (Slovakia, Czech republic)  

2009 Grundtvig project (2009-2011): Parents learning about Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) – Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia •

2010 Rio Grassroots Women International Academy and WUF 5. Huairou Commission, GROOTS intern. mine board members participated

Impact of Mother Centres

Depending on thier size and how long they have been operating, Mother Centers reach between 50 and 1000 families in the neighborhood.

Mother Centers contribute to a new culture of care in communities, especially concerning flexible and quality care for children and the elderly.

Mother Centers have impact on many levels. They influence the quality of parenting and child socialization as well as the quality of inner family relations.

Mother Centers revitalize neighborhoods. They bring new family services into the community and bring a grassroots player into local governance.

Mother Centers empower women and improve gender equity in families and communities.

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.

What Mother Centers offer society

Mother Centers:

  • Create opportunities for children under kindergarden age to meet and interact
  • Support the parenting skills of families with young children
  • 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 balance of work and family life
  • Expand the range of close to home services
  • Create alternatives to institutional eldercare
  • Support the social integration of youth
  • Promote children’s and family health
  • Counteract demographic trends
  • Strengthen tolerance and democratic attitudes in civil society
  • Improve the quality of urban living spaces
  • Revitalise 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 marginalised 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 insitutional literacy among grassroots groups
  • Generate innovations in professional and institutional programs
  • Are incubators for new ideas and local problem solving 

What are 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.Their motto is that “everybody is good at at least one thing – that they can contribute”.


   Mother Centers are places where mothers can:

  • relax-focus on their needs and interests

  • exchange knowledge and experiences with peers

  • receive personal support-take or give courses and trainings (language, music, computer courses, job trainings)

  • initiate projects and family services like childcare, eldercare, hot meals, healthcare, laundry, repair or household services


 In Mother Centers women are supported to:

  • Join forces to improve the life of their families and communities

  • Unite with mothers from different social and cultural backgrounds

  • Create a culture of friendship and mutual support

  • Enrich neighborhoods and support social cohesion

  • Claim public space and acknowledge everyday life experience as expertise

  • Regain confidence and recognize their assets

  • Participate in policy making and local governance

  • Fight poverty and social exclusion

  • Enhance the recognition of motherhood in society

What is mine?

mine (Mother Centres International Network for Empowerment) is the international movement and the network to facilitate co-operation and exchanges between more than 1 000 Mother Centres currently existing in 22 countries: Albania, Argentina, Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Cameroon, the Czech republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Nepal, Netherlands, Russia, Rwanda, Slovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA. 

mine is accredited as “Best Practice” by UN-Habitat and has received the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment. This international recognition was given to mine for “the strengthening of the capacity of civil society to revitalize local neighborhoods and revive community life”.