Meet Alexis, the Founder of Women Going Beyond

Alexis Alcalá, the founder of Women Going Beyond, shares the inspiring vision behind the NGO and what motivated him to empower and help women in South East Asia.

"Close your eyes and imagine you are a little girl in Cambodia, living in a rural area. Imagine you are forced by your parents to drop out of school to work at home. Imagine that you are not allowed to leave home. Imagine that no one in your family understands your needs and your desire to learn and grow. Imagine you are forced to marry a man you don't know. You can complain and cry at night, but no one cares. Your family supports this. Your society supports this. You feel alone".

This is the terrible situation that millions of girls and women face around the world. I witnessed it first-hand. Some years ago, I was living and working as a life coach in Japan and other countries in South-East Asia, including Cambodia. As I started coaching women, I realised that the gender gap was huge. When I heard directly from women that they were obliged to satisfy all demands from men – that they could not talk in business meetings, that they were victims of abuse, that sex was only for men – I was completely shocked.

I witnessed and heard about cases of gender discrimination and abuse almost on a daily basis. In particular, in Cambodia, I saw young girls fall victim to human trafficking. I also witnessed businesses continuously sexualizing women. Even young girls working in their family business.

Such experiences prompted me to do something. I had to use my skills and resources to help. This is how I decided to found Women Going Beyond, an NGO focusing on the empowerment of young girls and women through education.

Who am I? My name is Alexis and I'm from Spain. As a boy, I was always looking for ways to learn new things. A passion of mine was psychology, but I was also very ambitious so I decided to focus on my professional career in the corporate world.

Very quickly, I realized that I was not happy, so I began a personal development journey to learn more about myself and my mission in life. After some time on this journey, I created my own personal development business, InnerCamp, and became a breathwork master and tantra teacher. My mission was to help people, create amazing experiences, and support vulnerable people. I also wanted to start a family with my fiancé.

Through InnerCamp, I began helping others to find their purpose. My work has always been both inspiring and challenging, but I couldn't get the experiences I had in South East Asia out of my head. This prompted me to contribute something more to the world. The gender discrimination and abuse I saw in Cambodia was the triggering factor for the foundation of Women Going Beyond.

Why Cambodia specifically? For several reasons. Cambodia is a country that sends many women to Thailand to work in prostitution. Many are victims of human trafficking or live in very dangerous situations. On top of this, the educational system in Cambodia is extremely flawed. For a bit of background, when the communist party seized control of the country in the 1970s and the Khmer regime was established, the country experienced a severe setback in education. Schools were closed. Educated people and teachers were killed, put into labour camps or tortured. After the Khmer Rouge regime fell in 1979, Cambodia had to re-establish its educational system from scratch.

Despite efforts to revive and improve the system, today there are still so many problems. There are few teachers, and even these few are not necessarily qualified to teach, especially in the rural areas. Overall, Cambodians don't have access to good education. They lack basic job opportunities and a healthy life. This situation is even worse for females.

Women Going Beyond’s mission focuses on the empowerment of young girls and women through education, in order to boost confidence and mitigate the risks of falling victim to human trafficking, forced child marriages or prostitution.

Currently, we are working on a new project to create an online educational platform to provide those skills to girls and young women. We are developing courses on the English language, IT, job preparation, and much more. We will provide certificates with high-quality standards that prove that these girls have the competencies to start working. With this new project, we are forming agreements with Cambodian companies to understand their needs in terms of new employees’ skills.

Our first project is to help girls in the Siem Reap area and then we will widen our focus to other areas of Cambodia. After we begin covering these areas, we would like to support other countries like Laos and Myanmar, too.

It is shocking to see that young women have fewer opportunities in many countries just because they were born as female. We are working hard to do something about this. We want to listen to them, hear their stories, understand their pains and support them accordingly. With our volunteers, we want to help by finding job opportunities for Cambodian girls. We want to empower them and provide them with the skills they need to get a job.

“Now close your eyes again. Imagine you are a little girl in Cambodia, living in a rural area. Imagine you have the freedom to study, work and do what you love the most. Imagine that you can share your love with the people you want. Your family supports and loves you. You are happy, free and can be whoever you choose to be”.

Would you like to help? Contact us to let us know what motivates you. We need more people to support us in different areas, such as English teaching, financial literacy, marketing, social media and translations. Join our wonderful team of volunteers or make a small donation today!

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