"We define sexual violence survivors not by the tragedies of their past but by the potential of their futures" - In conversation with Net and Julie co-founders of ila
by Rossella Forle’
Net and Julies are two amazing young women that have decided to make a change and doing it using their knowledge, experience, heart and soul. ila, the social enterprise they found, is helping sexual violence survivors to rebuild their life, and become financially independent.
We Hate Pink have interviewed them for you.
1. What’s ila?
Julie: ila is a social enterprise that aims to shed light on gender inequality and how it leads to gender-based violence. We empower sexual violence survivors with an innovative skills-training program to achieve employability and become financially independent. Our vision is to eradicate gender inequality by championing a generation of individuals to catalyze system change. This means the survivors will have the ability to live their lives on their own terms by choosing how they want to earn money. This is very important for us.
Net: But because we are a social enterprise and not a NGO, the business model aims to be self-sustaining. We do this by working closely with corporations and young, socially conscious millennials who we call the ila Generation. These days, purpose should be at the core of every brand interaction and companies have a responsibility to be more aware of the social impact they cause. If done properly, company resources (employees, grants, etc) can have a significant role in society beyond profit. The ila Generation don’t need to be convinced of this which is why we plan to hold ilaX events for them – inspired by TedX but with a gender lens – to continue raising awareness and opening up the conversation on gender.
2. How did you start and why?
Julie: When you think about it, it is kind of crazy. Net and I met during the first week of the program at LSE where we’re currently doing our Masters. At the time, we were getting to know our cohort, everyone was going through the usual icebreaker routine and asking about each other. When I was telling people about my interest in gender-based violence and how I wanted to help survivors to reintegrate proudly into society, most people were surprised and even afraid to inquire more on this issue. Net was the first person I met who got really enthusiastic about it. A few days later we were meeting in a coffee shop and putting our ideas on paper.
3. What is your motivation to do this?
Julie: For me it is pretty clear. I got sensitive to gender inequality as I turned into a woman and, the more I worked on it and talked about it, the more I wanted to make the difference for the next generations and be able to say that I would not have let things as they were. Going to India allowed me to see gender inequality from a different perspective but it also made me realise how universal this issue was and how important it is to address it on the international stage. We are living in a globalized world and we need to hear the voices from women, and people more generally, from all around the globe.
Net: You would think that as an Asian woman, I don’t have what most people would call ‘privilege’. But privilege to me is when you’re in a position to help others, and I was. I spent 4 years in New York where I did my undergrad and it was there that I first became exposed to what is known as ‘catcalling’. I remember being genuinely terrified that some strange man was calling me ‘honey’ and following me down the street. The sheer panic I felt that night and many nights after (because goodness, these things do not occur one time) made me reflect on how other women must feel when they’re not just being followed home but when they’re being raped. I can’t even imagine what being raped must feel like, which is why I want to make sure no woman has to go through that.
4. What's the biggest impact that ila can have worldwide?
Net: ila works to address gender inequality, one of the United Nations’ SDG for 2030. Our biggest hope is that everyone, even survivors of sexual violence, will feel empowered enough to stand up for gender equality and lead by example. To have social impact and create that ripple effect for change. One way we envision the ripple effect taking place is through a franchise system whereby we’ll have training programs all over the world and different ilaX events being hosted by members of the ila Generation.
5. What’s ila Generation and how people can join it?
Julie: The ila Generation are young, passionate, socially conscious individuals who know that there is a space where passion meets profession and who believe in gender equality. It’s us, it’s you. But, when it comes to our activity, you can join the ila Generation on our website through a simple application or follow us on Instagram to hear about all our upcoming events and opportunities in the coming years.
6. Gender inequality and gender violence are two sides of the same coin, in your opinion how can we fight gender inequality in our daily life? What are the actions that every single person should take to enhance gender equality?
Net: It starts with paying attention to your everyday. Helping a woman that would be harassed on the street, pointing out sexist comments, encouraging the people around you to do what is important for them regardless of gender stereotypes. One of the worst thing with gender-based discrimination is that it is way too normalized and the people who don’t face it do not even see it. Calling out these behaviors make them visible but it can also be scary. This is why it is important to help people when we see them being confronted to discrimination. This is ‘The First Step’ anyone can take, which just so happens to be the theme of our launch event happening on June 7th. We hope to see you there!
ila is launching an event in London next June 7th at 6:30. The theme is 'The First Step'.
Change is always spoken about on a large scale that it seems overwhelming and impossible to achieve at times. This is why it's important to acknowledge that just making that first step is already one step in the right direction to catalyze change. The ripple effect will follow if just one person leads by example.
Net Supatravanij is from Bangkok, she lived in New York & Singapore where she worked in advertising for a few years. However, she quickly realized that trying to sell something that didn’t personally mean anything to her – or have a social impact – was going to get old real fast. So when she started the CSR initiative at her company it pushed her to pursue a path where purpose and profit thrived. Gender equality has always been something she is passionate about and after meeting Julie, they just knew they had to start Ila.
Julie is 25 French, from Paris. Before coming to London, she did a Master in Political Philosophy and Ethics where she worked on gender-based discrimination and violence. Straight after that, she decided that she actually wanted to be on the field and left for India where I worked for an anti-trafficking organization. This experience definitely made the difference for her and contributed to her choice to study Social Innovation. This is how she met Net.