About LEFÖ


Foreword - History - Aims - Awards

A foreword

Maria Cristina Boidi, Coordinator of LEFÖ
Maria Cristina Boidi, coordinadora de LEFÖ

Every woman has the right to a life in dignity.

  • We advocate for the rights of migrant women and for the improvement of their living conditions.
  • Our vision is a society in which differences are an enriching and natural part of our lives in community.
  • Our everyday practical work is settled within the context of the overall social reality. Here, we take a path of common and interconnected steps.
  • We orientate our work toward the vision of a society in which marginalizations have no place and carry the utopia of a just world for migrant women, for women and for all.


LEFÖ is an association by and for migrant women founded in 1985 by Latin American women living in exile in Austria. LEFÖ has made an exerted effort to respond to migrant women’s diversified and complex needs due to the migration movements over the past 25 years.  LEFÖ has been a pioneer in Austria in working with migrant women in sex work and with women affected by trafficking. Today, LEFÖ is still the only organization in Austria that provides a broad spectrum of counseling and support for migrant women and advocates for their rights.


More about the history of LEFÖ (pdf)


The high visibility of female migrants in Western Europe and of the exploitation arising from their living and working situations are consistently obscured within human and women’s rights contexts. Addressing this occlusion forms the basis for the work at LEFÖ.
LEFÖ is based on the participation, empowerment and self-organization of migrant women.
LEFÖ has offered counseling, support and assistance to migrant women in Austria since 1985. LEFÖ provides support for legal, psychosocial and health issues, encourages the real integration of marginalized women and advocates for equal opportunities and participation for migrant women.


LEFÖ advocates for

  • Support and empowerment of migrant women
  • Empowerment of women throughout their entire migration process
  • Betterment of living and working conditions for migrant women in Austria
  • Protection of migrant women against racism, violence, exploitation and human rights violations
  • Counseling and education opportunities for migrant women that correspond to their concrete life situations
  • Information and engagement with issues of women’s migration, trafficking in women and sex work
  • Sensitization and lobbying to combat the political and social stigmatization of migrant women.



Maria Cristina Boidi, the coordinator and co-founder of LEFÖ, received the Decoration of Merit in Gold of the Province of Vienna on June 15th. We are pleased to receive this honor and recognition seeing as Cristina has, through her life’s work, helped strengthen and encourage many women and migrants, for themselves as well as for achieving better living conditions. She also has worked on obtaining fair Rights for Women and Migrants – here and now, locally, nationally and globally. 



As a longtime companion of Johanna Dohnal, as a feminist and a pioneer and expert with regards to her approaches on (women’s) migration, sex work and trafficking in women, Maria Cristina Boidi, coordinator of LEFÖ, was awarded the "Johanna Dohnal Recognition 2010".



The 2009 Women’s Achievement Award of the 12th District Green Party (Meidlinger Grünen) gave Gloria Tichy the second prize for her work in the women’s painting studio at LEFÖ. For two years now, Gloria Tichy—formerly a professor for art in Columbia and currently a painter in Vienna—has been working on a volunteer basis and used her love for painting to encourage creative and interpersonal encounters at LEFÖ’s Learning Center for Migrant Women.



In October 2007, LEFÖ received the WOMAN AWARD from the Austrian magazine WOMAN. LEFÖ was recognized under the motto “The Best of the Best” in the category “migrant women.”



The film Kurz davor ist es passiert directed by Anja Salomonowitz received a number of awards, among others the Vienna Film Award, the Innovative Artistic Award, Mar del Plata 2007, and the Film Peace Prize of the City of Osnabrück. The wide recognition for this political piece that is concerned with trafficking in women not only goes out to the director, but also acknowledges LEFÖ’s expertise in acting as the film’s content supervisor.



2005 was a commemorative year celebrating 20 years of LEFÖ. Upon this occasion LEFÖ’s work was also recognized with the following awards:

  • Sozialmarie Prize (Unruhe Privatstiftung)
  • Ute Bock Prize for Civil Courage 2005


The “Herta Firnberg Recognition Award” was awarded to the Austrian intervention centres against violence against women, including to the LEFÖ-IBF (Intervention Centre for trafficked women).