Here & There Magazine met with Isabelle Weill, founder of AJILA Foundation, just after her ‘Red Défilé’ charity runway event at the Mariott Hotel on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Journalists, models, entrepreneurs, influencers and even firefighters; women from all horizons gathered around Isabelle Weill to support her cause in a vibrant show, all in red.
It isn’t yet very well known but one out of three women die of cardiovascular disease in France and worldwide. As a result, this is qualified as the world’s leading cause of death. An under-represented issue against which Isabelle Weill and the AJILA Foundation fight all year round in France. “Sauvez le Coeur des femmes” (Saving women’s heart) is the endgame of Isabelle Weill’s ‘Red Défilé’.
All her life, Isabelle Weill has always been a committed woman. Mother of three children, she leads a professional life like no other while taking on more and more responsibilities to help other women. Isabelle wanted to create a Foundation, but her main goal was to shed a light on an unknown cause. In 2008, she found her calling to fight against heart disease. “I asked myself what more could I bring to this cause?” President of NEXTRADIOTV, Isabelle immediately thought about a plan to share this cause live on TV and radio. “At the very beginning, it was a challenge for me. I started working on three main audiences: institutions, companies and the public. I organized events and supervised the installation of more than 140 000 heart defibrillators. But what’s really important is that we saved more than 15% lives against 2% when I started this project 10 years ago.”
After those overwhelming results in France, the American Heart Association reached out to Isabelle to discuss her fight in cardiac arrest and first aid rules education. With their support, Isabelle went one step further with the issue of women’s heart diseases. “I’ve been working in close collaboration with the American Heart Association for more than 12 years now and we get together each year for an update. French people didn’t respond well to their ‘Go Red for Women’ campaign, that’s why we change the name of the campaign to ‘Sauvez le Coeur des femmes’(Saving women’s heart). But I’m really inspired by their work.”
“What I’m asking from women today is to be more proactive regarding their health. I’m fighting for women and most importantly young women, so they understand that taking birth control and smoking results in murder. This is equivalent to a ticking bomb in their body.”
Since 2008, Isabelle Weill contributed to highlighting this issue in public and in the media. The conversation has made people aware that today cardiovascular diseases are killing more people than cancer, and that women are the main victims. Now that women are aware of these risks, the next step for Isabelle and her foundation is to meet young girls and boys in schools to further heighten their awareness starting at a younger age. “They won’t understand everything right away, but they will have heard that contraception and cigarette is a deadly combination. Otherwise, at 35 women will begin to get coronary problems.”
For even more visibility of women’s cardiovascular diseases, in our day-to-day lives, as women, Isabelle Weill strongly advises requesting a blood test when renewing your contraception prescription. In France, this blood test is compulsory so you can check if something changes in your cholesterol and blood glucose level for instance. “The second most important thing, and I can’t stress this point enough is to speak with women around you, tell them not to smoke and to take care of themselves. Women are the pillars of our society, so if they don’t take care of themselves, who will?”
Interview by Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle
Photos by Aleyah Solomon