The MaLisa Foundation was established in 2016 by Maria and Elisabeth Furtwängler. Its aim is to create a free, equal society. On an international level, it campaigns to end violence against women and girls. In Germany, it also focuses on promoting social diversity and overcoming restrictive role models.
The founders of the MaLisa Foundation have many years of international experience. Since 1998, Maria Furtwängler has served as a voluntary doctor with German Doctors and witnessed the everyday presence of violence against women in the slums of Nairobi, Calcutta, Gujarat and in the Philippines, where it has come to be seen as part of normality. During her travels through Cambodia and the Philippines, Elisabeth was also confronted by the impact and consequences of the sexual exploitation of young girls and women. In order to provide practical help, Maria and Elisabeth Furtwängler founded the MaLisa Home in 2011, a safe house for girls who had been victims of human trafficking and enforced prostitution in the Philippines.
The MaLisa Foundation is the next step in Maria and Elisabeth Furtwängler's mission to empower women and young girls, by overcoming gender-based discrimination in Germany. The first projects undertaken by the MaLisa Foundation focus on the representation of women and men in the media.
The foundation works on a solely operative basis.
Her personal mission is to empower and support girls and women across the world who are exposed to humiliation and discrimination. She is President of the Board of Trustees for the aid organization German Doctors and co-founder of the Digital Life Design conference series DLDwomen.
She has also received many awards for her charitable work, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Bavarian Order of Merit, the Leibniz Ring Hannover 2016 and the Karl Kübel Prize 2017.
After her high school certificate, Elisabeth travelled through Cambodia and the Philippines. In personal encounters and conversations with those affected, she became aware of the effects of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. With the help of German Doctors and local aid charities, she set up the MaLisa Home with her mother, Maria. She has studied history of art in Cambridge and music in Los Angeles.
Elisabeth Furtwängler performs as a singer-songwriter under the stage name Lisa Fou.
After two decades working throughout Europe for international organizations, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF-EN), she now acts as advisor for international and national organizations and foundations.
A key focus of her work is on cross-generation, cross-border and cross-sector networking. As expert for the Council of Europe and lecturer, she advises and teaches on gender equality, particularly on ending violence against women and girls.
Since 2001, Karin Heisecke has been actively involved in V-Day, the international movement against violence towards women and girls. She initiated the award-winning campaign "Vergewaltigung kommt nicht in die Tüte", benefit performances of the "Vagina Monologues" in various European cities and in the European parliament, (music) videos and flash mobs for One Billion Rising.