HERA France – or how to improve women’s lives

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We are proud to announce that one of our team’s members is now a mentor for the HERA France NGO.

Hera France is an organization that fights violence against women through mentoring and education.

Below an interview with Chiara Condi, the president of the NGO:

http://www.shiftbalance.org/hera/

Who are you? What’s your story?

My name is Chiara Condi. I founded HERA France, an organization that assists women who have suffered violence and trafficking by providing them with entrepreneurship training and mentoring.  One day at my job in London at large financial institution I was asked to start working on projects targeting women and very soon I became entirely absorbed.  Almost at the same time I started volunteering with victims of trafficking for HERA in the UK. All of it inspired me and when I came to France I said I have to do something for women here. I craved to create my own structure; that was how HERA France was born.

HERA France offers participating women a year long program of entrepreneurship courses taught by two business schools in Paris, IESEG and ESCP and an individual mentoring program by professionals trained by a series of experienced coaches.  I built the program without any funds but purely through the solidarity of institutions, professionals, and businesses in my community which have all come together to say that they too believe these women deserve a better future.

How is gender equity impacting your day-to-day life?

I’m always asked what men can do. Whether professors or mentors men are a crucial part of my program.  It is only when men collectively say that they won’t stand for this that violence will stop.  It is one thing for victims to stand up and say this, another for women, and yet another for men to come out and tell other men that they will not stand for this.

Give us 1 figure that says it all for you.

0 that’s the number of women who had been victims of violence I knew around me when I started HERA France.  Ever since then countless women around me have shared their own stories with me–and I am not speaking of the program’s participants.  It opened my eyes not only to the magnitude of the problem but also to depth of the silence that surrounds it.

What are you most upset about and what do you do to change it?

The word victim– it makes it seem almost as if the status were a permanent one. If we exist it is precisely to fight against that notion. We are there to say that each one of those “victims” has a chance to be something different, the author of a future that hopefully and eventually will completely erase that word.

What is your call to action for the readers?

Everyone can do something about it. And one day before we know it all those small changes will have added up to make a big difference.

Believe in your ability to change things. Believe in your ability to change things. Believe in your ability to change things. I cannot repeat it enough because that’s where everything starts.

Some more info on the subject:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/index_en.htm

http://16days.thepixelproject.net/the-pixel-project-selection-2011-16-films-about-violence-against-women/

And last but not least, you have probably heard or already seen the video, but we cannot stress enough how important is to empower women: Emma Watson’s touching speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE

photo source: http://www.herafrance.org

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