Lara Dee

Ashoka Fellow
Brazil
Fellow Since 2005

Citation

This profile was prepared when Lara Dee was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
In a macho culture where women are too often still regarded as inferior, Lara Dee gives women a new way to ensure their own survival. Dee’s organization “Beleza e Cidadania” (Beauty and Citizenship) helps poor women become professional workers while at the same time becoming more confident, emotionally stable human beings.
Women join hoping to learn a professional trade, but they learn much more in Dee’s program. Knowing the psychological obstacles to self-sufficiency that women face in a male-dominated society, Dee brings in psychologists and counselors as well as teachers. Her school is more than just a training camp; it is a complete, holistic center, striving to help women in all aspects of their lives.
Classes are held in Brazil’s samba schools, large rehearsal spaces typically only in use during Carnaval season and vacant for the rest of the year. Usually located in the heart of the favelas (slums), they are perfect locations for schools catering to the cities’ most underprivileged citizens. To jump-start the program, Dee solicits donations from large cosmetic companies, so that students will always have adequate beauty supplies and equipment with which to practice and learn their craft. Dee originally began her school with some help from an old friend who now owns a large publishing company in the cosmetics business, and Dee still has extensive contacts within the industry.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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