Ashoka Fellow Ana Bella Estévez
Ana Bella Estévez is not only an Ashoka Fellow but also a Social Entrepreneur, Survivor, and Changemaker. Her Ana Bella Foundation aims to transform the self-image of battered women from one of victims to survivors, who regain self-confidence and employment. In the last years, more than 1,100 survivors were trained and 632 women were offered jobs through Ana Bella´s work.
Her life goal is to empower abused women by leveraging their strengths and capabilities so to regain self-confidence as well as to begin the separation process from their abusers. Ana Bella creates peer-to-peer support networks of surviving women, who, by example of their own experience of recovery, convey a positive message.
Amiga Program: By offering a peer-to-peer support based upon the principle of portraying positive testimonies of survivors in mass media and channeling the empathy of survivors as volunteers, Ana Bella has enabled 20,000 abused women to break the silence and start a happy life.
Ana Bella Social School for Women Empowerment: to avoid double victimization and social exclusion suffered by abused women after the shelter, women are trained to unleash their potential as survivors focusing on labor integration. Instead of double victimization and hidden jobs provided by official resources, they offer professional training and socially valued trampoline jobs as Brand Ambassadors. They involve companies in co-creation projects, which create social and economic value for organizations, women, and society.
“Ana Bella is focusing on the benefits of “breaking away” instead of the dangers of remaining in an abusive relationship. By building on the strengths of survivors, she is reducing the time it takes for women to begin the process of moving away from their abuse. Ana Bella is creating shorter bridges for battered women to reach the point of reporting,“ explains Marie Ringler, Ashoka Europe Co-Director.
Ana Bella created, Comprehensive Support Services, to provide part-time jobs for women not yet recovered enough to enter the job market. These resources are not meant to duplicate existing official resources but instead act as mediation points for women who for one reason or another cannot fully access what is available. To expand this peer-to-peer network, Ana Bella is engaging many other women-related organizations that serve as geographical nodes to implement her approach and develop local systems. In Austria, organizations such as Frauenhäuser Wien, MA 57, Tamar, Verein Autonome Österreichische Frauenhäuser, etc. address women’s specific needs by providing support and empowering women to become changemakers themselves.
Ana Bella, being abused by her husband for 11 years, managed to escape and raise a family of four children. During the process of separation and through interaction with other women in similar situations, she realized the potential of women who had overcome equally dreadful situations in life.
“Violence against women is a violation of human rights. I just wanted to tell my story to help invisible women to break the silence and have the opportunity to start a happy life, because they deserve it, they and their children, because we all deserve a happy life.”