What DSW Means To me

For me, DSW stands for two things. The first is hope. Hope for a brighter future for all young people, especially those living in poverty. I can honestly say that after 20 years working at DSW, I have never given up hope that we can, and should, dream of a better tomorrow. A better future where we achieve universal access to modern contraception, where girls and women can plan and time the birth of the children, where diseases of poverty are a thing of the past, and where all young people can realise their full potential.

The second thing that DSW stands for is action. We are not just wishful thinkers, we are change-makers! Every employee at DSW plays a vital role in helping to achieve the future we are aiming for and we have achieved very impressive results over the years. In Germany, DSW’s influence is instrumental for strengthening public, private, and political support, and in mobilizing increased resources for Official Development Assistance. At the EU level, DSW’s close collaboration with the EU institutions has positioned the DSW EU office as a key expert on global health R&D in mobilizing support for increased global health investments. Also, in east Africa, DSW is a force to be reckoned with as we continue to push boundaries for family planning and ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Although we have achieved so much, I honestly feel we are just getting started. There is still much to do, but as we enter a new period of growth and development in DSW, we are as passionate as ever that we can fully accomplish the goals we have set out. I hope you will stand with us as we continue to aim high and achieve the type of future that we all deserve.

Renate Baehr, Executive Director, DSW



DSW’s vision is for a healthy and sustainable world in which all young people can realise their full potential.


In working closely with young people as well as our partners and donors, we are committed to these CORE VALUES


To unleash this potential, DSW empowers young people, promotes an enabling environment, and fosters meaningful and inclusive participation.

  • Mutual Trust & Respect

  • Partnership & Teamwork

  • Transparency

Working with women and youth for a better future in East Africa

DSW’s Working Together for Decent Work in East Africa (Fit for Life) project is an excellent example of how an integrated approach can be adopted to address the needs of vulnerable populations. This EU funded three-year programme (2011 to 2014), worked to improve the health and livelihoods of those excluded from the formal labour market, especially women and youth. By empowering individuals, supporting informed decision-making, and promoting innovative and successful approaches, the project worked to ensure decent work, social protection and inclusion for all members of society in East Africa.

Where We Work

Our Projects

We are living through a period of huge social change and democratic upheaval. We are now witness to the largest cohort of young people ever to live on this planet. Many of these young people, living in some of the world’s poorest countries, still do not have access to basic rights and services, like access to safe and affordable contraception, or information on how best to protect themselves from diseases like HIV.

As a result, young people are prevented from being able to decide when and how to start a family, and are disproportionately at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Girls and young women remain particularly disadvantaged, being subject to gender-based violence and discriminatory practices, unable to complete their educations, and being prevented from being in control of their own destinies.

Here at DSW, we are working with these young people to support them to overcome these obstacles. Our projects in eastern Africa have focused, since 1995, on empowering this generation, responding to the need for comprehensive sexuality education, voluntary family planning, and youth-friendly health services:


  • Training and Education

    Through our network of youth clubs and training centres in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, we work with young people to give them the skills to be peer educators, informing their friends on questions of sexuality and contraception.

  • Health

    Youth-friendly health services are vital to supporting the development of young people in eastern Africa. Our clubs work with health professionals to make sure they can tailor their services and give young people the information they need.

  • Life Skills

    Sexual health is one key aspect of empowering young people, but we recognise that they also need life skills to be able to advance in their professional careers. By combining health education and life skills training, and some financial support, the members of our youth clubs can establish small businesses, generating their own income and starting to become financially independent.

  • Communities Matter

    Convincing young people is rarely the hardest part of our project work. To make sure the impact of our projects is sustainable, we work with parents, teachers, community members and local and religious opinion leaders. Members of the youth clubs are active in reaching out to these influential groups, so that the whole community can buy in to what we are doing.

  • Content For Young People By Young People

    Young people are the ones who know best how to reach their peers, which is why we work together with them to develop the educational materials we use to reach tens of thousands of young people every year.

  • Health-focused Advocacy

    Our projects do not just focus on local support, but also take account of the broader social and political landscape. By convincing policy-makers of the value of investing in health – and youth-focused SRHR in particular – we can make sure that the successes we achieve are secure for future generations.

DSW’s Board

Executive Board

The Executive Board of DSW appoints the Executive Director and monitors their activities.

Knut Gerschau


Dirk Rossmann

Founder, Deputy-Chair

Helmut Heinen

Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board is an honorary body that appoints, counsels, supports and monitors the Executive Board.

Elmar Bingel

Prof. Thomas Buettner

Erhard Schreiber

Dr. Andrea Fadani

Dr. Barbara Kloss-Quiroga

Rolf Seelmann-Eggebert

Sylvia von Metzler

Dr. Anja Langenbucher

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board advises the Executive Board, the Supervisory Board, and the Executive Director on thematic issues, especially in respect of fulfilling the purposes of the Foundation. The Advisory Board carries out its activities on a voluntary basis and is comprised of distinguished public figures.

Alfred Biolek

Prof. Margot Kaessmann

Dr. Sara Seims

Dr. Nafis Sadik

Prof. Klaus Toepfer

Prof. Ernst Ulrich v. Weizsaecker