Interview: The Ana Bella foundation and WeWard join forces to fight violence against Women!

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For the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 2023, we had the opportunity to speak with Ana Bella Estévez, the founder of the Ana Bella Foundation, a WeWard partner association.

The origin of this day dates back to the 1960 assassination of three Dominican political activists, the Mirabal sisters.
In 1999, the United Nations officially recognized November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Ana Bella Estévez is a symbol of resilience within the movement. She founded the Ana Bella Foundation to support other women in similar situations. Find out through this inspiring conversation about a woman of strength and insight who highlights her crucial work with WeWard in the fight to stop violence against women.

As part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2023, on November 25, could you tell us about the journey of your foundation? Do you have any plans for this important day?

Ana Bella: I was a successful entrepreneur but, at the same time, I suffered from abuse for eleven years without any external help. My husband would say he hit me because he loved me. Entrepreneurial victims, those with university degrees, working women, and professionals are among the most invisible and the ones who file the fewest complaints.

The Ana Bella Foundation is a network of survivor women where we aim to transform the suffering we have experienced into expertise and empathy to help other women. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and throughout the year, survivor women from the Ana Bella Foundation go to businesses to provide training on preventing gender-based violence. And in November, we conducted training in several companies.
We also work in schools because young people are the ones who have the most difficulty recognizing that their relationship is abusive: 10% of students ask for help after our workshops!

What is the Amiga program, and how does it provide essential support to women facing situations of violence?

Ana Bella: Only one in five abused women in Spain receives help. Women from the Ana Bella Foundation are friends to women who have lost their friends due to the isolation they have experienced in their gender-based violence relationships. We identify invisible victims and help them break the silence through the Amiga program. We offer an immediate response to requests for help, tailored to each woman abused by her partner's circumstances: emotional support, both  in-person and on the phone, to enable the victim to separate from the aggressor as quickly as possible, guidance from a survivor friend throughout the process to prevent the woman from returning to the aggressor or assistance in accessing public resources (complaints, legal proceedings, medical reports, etc.)

Very often, the Ana Bella Foundation is the only friend they can rely on to receive financial support to cover expenses not covered by public resources.



How has WeWard been a valuable ally in helping you achieve your walking and cardiovascular exercise goals, given your heart health issue?

Ana Bella: At the same time we launched the Ana Bella Foundation with WeWard to purchase the cement we need for the shelter's construction in Guinea-Bissau, I was diagnosed with severe dilated cardiomyopathy.

Thanks to WeWard, I had two-fold motivation to do the necessary cardiovascular exercise. On one hand was the social goal of contributing to a cause, and on the other hand, was the goal of improving my health. WeWard challenges me, for example, to walk 10,000 steps on a Monday.
Words of encouragement, like "Congrats! You're close to reaching the next level!", encouraging me not to give up. Moreover, as my friends also joined the challenge, we supported each other!


You referred to WeWard as a "social purpose." Could you further explain this concept and how it aligns with the goals of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2023?

Ana Bella: Thanks to WeWard, both people who have not been exposed to violence and those who have can act as agents of change by joining our community and walking to donate their wards to a social cause. In this case, the fight against violence against women by the Ana Bella Foundation. We were moved that so many people raised awareness and took action by walking together to achieve a common goal: building a shelter for abused women. Because we walk for them, we give them the strength to take the step of leaving the abusive relationship.


What are your dreams for the future of this project, and how can WeWard and its users continue to contribute to this cause on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

Ana Bella : We created the Ana Bella Network of women, consisting of 30,000 women in 88 countries who help victims. Among them, the Network of Survivor Women in Guinea-Bissau, where we are building a shelter with funds raised by WeWard users' steps. WeWard is a fantastic platform to promote social projects and facilitate user collaboration in their development, all while promoting healthy physical activity. Our dream is to complete the shelter's construction in 2024 and welcome the first women.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, I ask you to visit www.fundacionanabella.org and contribute, in addition to walking with WeWard. Each donation represents one more woman that we can help find happiness. You can also make a donation through Bizum at 04076.

Ana Bella Estévez plays an essential role in the fight against violence against women, but we can all contribute to this cause by being agents of change, whether by calling 016 or the Ana Bella Foundation's number at +34 667233133 for advice on how to help, or by walking with WeWard to send a message of support to abused women.


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