Af Niels Brandt Petersen mail
On Tuesday last week, HRH Crown Princess Mary was the first person to view the Confederation of Danish Industry’s photographic exhibition at the international Women Deliver conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen.
The Crown Princess praised the eight Danish businesses at the centre of the photographic exhibition in which about 125 photographs show how Danish businesses in six developing countries have introduced Danish working hours, offered self-defence courses for female employees and funded educational courses in healthy eating and equality.
“The private sector is the key to creating growth and equality in the world. Women’s rights should be a priority for business. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it pays off,” said the Crown Princess.
The photographic exhibition, called Women Empower Business, will be viewed over the next few days by the up to 5,500 delegates at the conference which is the largest, global conference on sustainability since COP21. Government leaders, organisations, top UN executives, politicians, ministers, world-renowned experts, businesses and media people from around the world are coming to Copenhagen to help create better conditions for the girls and women of the world.
Surveys show that there is a great deal to gain – not just for women, but for the world as a whole. According to a report published by the McKinsey & Company consultancy firm, full equality for women in the labour market would boost the world’s total GDP by 26% by 2025.
On Tuesday, in addition to HRH Crown Princess Mary, Katja Iversen, the Danish CEO of Women Deliver, and Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen (Danish Liberal Party) took part in the first viewing of the exhibition at which representatives of the eight businesses were present.
According to Kristian Jensen, businesses have an obligation to work to promote equality. The photographic exhibition shows that words are supported by action.
“We are showing the world how to do it. By making room for women, everyone wins. Increasing rights for women is simply ‘smart business’,” said Kristian Jensen.
The Director General of the Confederation of Danish Industry Karsten Dybvad also praised the eight Danish businesses and the example they are setting. When the exhibition ends in Copenhagen after the Women Deliver conference, it will tour Denmark for the rest of 2016.
“Our exhibition shows examples of how businesses can make a difference. It shows how Danish businesses are already working to tackle the challenges women experience around the world,” said Karsten Dybvad.
In line with Crown Princess Mary and Kristian Jensen, Karsten Dybvad emphasised that increased rights are also in the interest of the businesses themselves.
“Giving women increased rights is simply a win-win situation,” said Karsten Dybvad.
The representatives from the eight businesses were clearly proud to see the many photographs on display and not least meet and answer questions from Crown Princess Mary.
“The photographs are incredibly beautiful and impressive. We are proud of what we are able to showcase and what we represent. I also think that the Confederation of Danish Industry can be proud of the exhibition that has resulted from our work,” says Global CSR Manager at AAK Mads Feer who trades directly with women in Burkina Faso when AAK purchases shea nuts for the production of chocolate, lotions and shampoo.
Inge Jensen, registration manager at FMC Cheminova, is particularly impressed with the many examples of how businesses are able to reach out and help.
“When you look at all the beautiful photographs and stories, you see both differences and similarities. It means a great deal to us that others are working in the same way to promote these rights. But there is a differences in how we approach things and that is something that can inspire you,” says Inge Jensen.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Confederation of Danish Industry and Danida.
In the many colourful photographs, visitors to the exhibition are taken on a tour of Vietnam, India, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi, countries where women are struggling with poor nutrition and where they are underrepresented in the job market.
The private sector is the key to creating growth and equality in the world. Women’s rights should be a priority for business. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it pays off.