Mariana Baños

Ashoka Fellow
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Mariana Baños was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
By providing free, comprehensive care over the phone to women suffering from any degree of physical, sexual, economic, or psychological violence, Mariana’s organization, Origen Foundation, is reducing the barriers to psychological services throughout Mexico. The core of the model is the toll-free phone line, Pro Ayuda a la Mujer (Help for Women), the first call center in Mexico that offers routine therapy at absolutely no cost to the callers. Unlike other phone-based services in Mexico that only provide one-off support to callers facing a specific domestic violence crisis or incident, Pro Ayuda a la Mujer connects women with psychologists, lawyers, and other specialists who provide professional follow-up to their callers long after the initial contact. Many of the women who call are not in emergency situations but are in need of psychological support nonetheless. In this way, Pro Ayuda a la Mujer is not a hotline; rather, it is a full-service psychological and legal support network provided through a call center. Origen employs a detailed and comprehensive database to register every call and the counselor’s notes on each session, which are made available to other potential service providers. For callers requiring more specialized assistance, Mariana has built alliances with some 5,000 public and private healthcare and legal institutions to accommodate specific cases. No other phone service in Mexico offers such sustained follow-up or detailed record-keeping.

In providing this telephone-based service, Mariana seeks to empower Mexican women to conquer the fear and hopelessness that many feel in a misogynistic machista culture, where men can mistreat women with significant impunity. At all levels of Mexican society, women are barred from the resources they need to develop their self-esteem, due to economic constraints or cultural mores that have long dictated female roles. Backed by financial support from the public sector and private philanthropy, Origen is providing free psychological and legal services to socioeconomic classes that normally could not afford them. This routine professional therapy provides Mexican women with the emotional and psychological tools to deal with their household situations and instills a sense of independence and control over their lives.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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