The Frauen Lesben Migrantinnen Mädchen Zentrum Wien (FZ) is one of the oldest self-governing women’s centers in Europe, providing space for different feminist activities and groups since 1981. Maintenance of this autonomous feminist structure over the last four decades is thanks to the means and voluntary, unpaid work of women in Vienna, migrants and lesbians alike. Unfortunately, now the WUK (Werkstätten- und Kulturhaus), in cooperation with the Vienna City Council, threatens to destroy the Women’s Center (FZ) with renovations and rent contracts.
In May 2023, two of us from the Radfem Kollektiv Berlin visited the Women’s Center in Vienna, Austria. A contact from the Women’s Center briefed us beforehand that the building and its rooms were not accessible; public access, as well as access by members of the Women’s Center, was denied during the renovation process. The alternative redevelopment plan proposed to the City Council by the Women’s Center was ignored.
We saw large purple letters “FZ” adorning the outside of the building, but inside was a demolition zone. Plastic buckets with rims coated in dried paint, ripped and scuffed sheets of polyethylene, dust in the air, red tape. In the entranceway, we read two long banners hanging from the ceiling with feminist and anti-capitalist statements. The walls were covered in a diversity of graffiti, including the female symbol encircling a fist, as well as an exchange of scribbles calling women of Women’s Center “TERFS” who must leave. Voices of men bellowed in from the courtyard as a group of construction workers (hired by the Vienna City Council no doubt) took a break from “renovating” what was not long before a female-only space.
We cannot attest to what physically remains behind the façade. No matter how this story develops in proceeding months and years, the power of women’s ingenuity and the shared histories of our collective resilience lives on.
Sign the petition NOW to preserve the Women’s Center of Wien: https://mein.aufstehn.at/petitions/fz-bleibt