Brussels, 8th March 2024

The 8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. At FAFCE, we work with incredible women and mothers across Europe. Today we spoke to Angelika Weichsel Mitterrutzner, who serves on FAFCE’s board as our Second Vice-President. She also the President of the Katholischer Familienverband Südtirol (KFS), or in English, the Catholic Families Association of South Tyrol. We are proud to count the KFS as a member of FAFCE.

Angelika reflected on her upbringing in Germany and the influences that shaped her into the woman she is today. “Growing up as an only child in a big city, my mother, who did not work, along with my father and grandparents, were my educators with heart and mind”, she explained. “Later, it was also my teachers who moulded me”.

Her involvement with family associations came naturally: “When I came to South Tyrol and our children were born, I registered with the local family association and attended various events there. This allowed me to get to know many women.” Indeed, the KFS provides “families in our villages and towns with support in their everyday lives”. She added that, “in a family association, you get back more than you give.” It is through invaluable volunteer work that family networks so often serve the wider community.

The KFS family association consists of an astounding 116 branches, counting almost 1000 people who work on a voluntary basis. Out of those volunteers, 95% are women. The full-time office team consists of eight women who manage the administrative responsibilities.

Six pillars hold the foundation of this family association:

  1. Family policy
  2. Family education
  3. Family leisure
  4. Work between generations
  5. Family pastoral care
  6. Family help.

This wide remit allows for deep service to families, at the level of community support as well as at the policy level. The community-driven support includes a family assistance program, which Angelika describes as providing “unbureaucratic financial help to families who are in need through no fault of their own.”

KFS is also capable of ‘getting the word out’, through their association newspaper that is published six times a year. In addition, there is a member of staff who deals exclusively with public relations. Angelika further described the organisational make-up of KFS, adding that “there are ten representatives from the districts and five other people on the board, which makes all decisions. Two years ago, we were able to recruit a woman as spiritual assistant – a laywoman”.

Angelika was elected to the FAFCE board in her current position as Second Vice-President in 2021. “I only recently became involved with FAFCE because I didn’t have time for it while I was working”, she said. Despite the time difficulties that working mothers are familiar with, she cited the proverb that “when there’s a will there’s a way, so if there is something important to me, I will find the time for it.”

The Munich-born fighter for families has been strong against the controversial European Parenthood Certificate and surrogacy. She declared in December 2023 that “the majority of the MEPs renounced to take a stand in favour of human dignity and used cross-border parenthood for ideological purposes, against the principle of subsidiarity.”

She was also outspoken on the erasure of women in 2022 regarding a European Commission directive to tackle the gender pay gap: “if the aim of this directive is to fight the gender pay gap between men and women, what kind of protection will these measures implement if no mention is made of women?”

We are proud to have women and mothers like Angelika across Europe who are leaders in serving families.