The unique photo exhibition Women Empower Business highlights initiatives by Danish companies that empower girls and women in developing countries.
Below you find further information about eight Danish companies and how they provide solutions for gender equality in Vietnam, India, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.
Butler’s Choice is a small Danish importer of tiger shrimps from factories in South Vietnam. The company requires good working conditions and proper sanitary conditions for the factory workers. Primarily, women do the shrimp peeling and they can live in the factories’ dormitories at no cost. Moreover, they can benefit from free health checks at the local health clinic.
Butler’s Choice provides better conditions for schoolsThe factories are situated in poor fishing communities, where up to 13 pct. of the children aged under five die from diarrhoea caused by unclean drinking water, bad hygiene and poor toilet facilities. Moreover, people living in these communities do not have access to proper medical care.
Butler’s Choice and their fond, Choice Foundation have facilitated new toilets, lavatories and access to clean water at the local school. Previously the toilets and the hygienic conditions were very poor and the girls restrained themselves from going to the toilet. Furthermore, the girls did not have access to water and therefore could not wash their hands or get enough to drink during the day. Evidently, access to clean drinking water has had a great impact on the girls’ well-being, development and schooling.
Choice Foundation also provides vital equipment for the health clinic. The equipment enables early detection of diseases, resulting in due time treatment for both girls and their mothers.
It pays of Butler’s Choice is a well-reputed company in South Vietnam and known for its social efforts. In return, the shrimp factories do their utmost to deliver top quality shrimps, which also the Danish consumers benefit from.
Orana A/S’ headquarters are situated in Denmark. The company develops, produces and sells concentrates for juices, fruit preparations for yoghurt, and fruit based food service products, such as concentrates for smoothies, syrups and bake stable jams.
Women both have to work and look after the children In Vietnam, women are challenged by the fact that they are both expected to work, pick up the children from nursery and do the housekeeping. Consequently, many Vietnamese women often earn a living by opening a stall in the street and bring their children. Alternatively, the children are sent away to relatives, who can look after them.
Work life balance is a challenge for most Vietnamese women.
Work life balance Orana wants to provide better opportunities for women in Vietnam and offers Danish working conditions. Firstly, lunch hours are cut back from one hour and a half to half an hour and the women can leave work at 16:00, which enables them to pick up their children before the nurseries close. Secondly, the women do not work Saturdays. The result is a better work life balance and the women can both work and spend time with their children every day.
32-year-old Thuy Lieu is the mother of 3-yers-old Zen. She has been working for Orana Vietnam’s department for quality control for eight years. Every day, Lieu’s husband brings Zen to the nursery and Lieu picks her up in the afternoon, makes the purchases and does the cooking. Very similar to everyday life in Denmark, nevertheless very unusual in Vietnam.
Beneficial for both parties The advantageous conditions that Orana Vietnam provides for their female employees result in loyal and positive employees. This is most valuable as Orana spends much time and money training the women in producing the high-quality products that they require.
Orana Vietnam was established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2002. Half of the 155 employees are women and they account for 70% of the company’s manager positions.
I am luckier than most Vietnamese women are as I both have a good job and time for my family.
Danfoss’ headquarters are situated in Denmark. The company is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of thermostats and climate controls and one of their production plants is situated in Chennai, India.
Women are responsible for the children The working hours in India normally last until 17:30 and the nurseries close at 16:00.
Consequently, most women have to leave their jobs, when they become mothers. As a result, the family has to live of one income. Moreover, it is very difficult for women to return to the labour market, when their children grow older.
Children at work Danfoss ensures jobs for the women – also when they become mothers. Within the factory area, Danfoss has established a nursery with professional employees, where the women can leave their children without concern. Moreover, the women can check on their children anytime during the day.
In addition, the women and their children have free access to a female doctor and a female nurse at the factory’s own health clinic.
Prevent violence against women Danfoss in Chennai both ensures jobs and safety for the women. Previously, women could go where they pleased but especially in larger cities the increase of violation and assault against women have made it difficult to maintain a normal way of living.
Danfoss also deals with their female employees’ safety by offering them self-defence courses. The women are taught to prevent and defence themselves against violation to/from work and during off-duty hours. Moreover, women, who work nightshifts, are guarded by female security guards, who also escort them in Danfoss’ shuttlebuses to their homes after work.
It pays of It takes time and costs a lot of money to educate the employees. However, the dedicated efforts to both ensure the women their work and their physical safety prevent Danfoss from losing skilled employees when the women become mothers. Furthermore, the efforts have given Danfoss a good image in India.
FMC Cheminova produces plant protection liquid to farmers all over the world, including India.
Here millions of women live in primitive, poor villages. Indian men work in the fields and Indian women do the housekeeping, as most of them are unskilled. Consequently, the women do not earn a living, a huge workforce is lost and families live from far less than if the women were skilled and could contribute to the families’ financial situation.
Taught how to sew Through project, SAHELI (Safety, Health & Livelihood) FMS Cheminova supports Indian women with training and new qualifications in order to enable them to earn their own living and thereby contribute to the families’ financial situation.
FMC Cheminova has supported several villages with sewing machines and courses in sewing and trading. As a result, the women’s self-respect has grown as they now can earn their own money, which among other things is spend on schooling for their children.
Break of traditions To earn a living by sewing requires a great deal of courage and the Indian women break with ancient traditions and norms in the village communities. Nevertheless, the women’s success gives them a new positive status and they become more self-confident.
Both parties benefit from the cooperation FMC Cheminova sells harvest advantageous products to the farmers and the company is therefore often in contact with the men. Through the SAHELI project, FMC is also in contact with the women. FMC Cheminova’s hope is that the new and better living conditions will lead to an increased volume of sales to the farmers.
The small Danish company AIAYU has specialised in sustainable, trendy knitted lifestyle products made of cotton and produced by suppliers in Nepal.
Women’s right to work Nepal is a new fragile democracy, economically challenged by its two large neighbours, China and India. It is a developing country with a low-income economy and without a well-organised industry to push the economy forward. Big parts of Nepal is impassable and in April 2015, an enormous earthquake caused great damage and thousands of lives.
The Nepalese women are particular challenged as their right to work and education is fare from given. Poverty, family traditions and the caste system hinder women from earning their own living – a fact that has a negative effect on Nepal’s potential growth.
Needlework and cultural heritage The Nepalese people are still skilled needle workers and create beautiful handmade products. An economic potential, which deserves recognition. AIAYU recognised the potential and chose Nepal over its more accessible neighbouring countries.
Contributes to a positive economic development AIAYU buys unique Nepalese products made of cashmere and yak wool produced by local women and thereby contributes to an increased export and a positive economic development in Nepal.
It is worth the efforts AIAYU strives for a cooperation of equal standing with the suppliers rather than practicing charity. Obviously, both women’s right to work and the possibility to produce high-quality products with a unique and transparent history are strong motivators for AIAYU to engage in Nepal.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. For thousands of years shea nuts have been an important source of income for the women.
Shea trees grow wild in the bush and the women get up early in the morning and walk many kilometres to collect the shea nuts from which they produce shea butter, which again is used as cooing oil and skin protection.
Food shortage is very common in Burkina Faso and the women have to sell the nuts to local intermediaries at low prices, in order to make a living.
AAK cooperates with women’s groups In order to help the women to profit better from the shea nuts AAK does business directly with women’s groups, representing more than 70,000 women, from villages all over Burkina Faso.
Moreover, AKK guarantees a minimum price for the shea nuts, offers interest-free loans in hard times, provides training in producing better quality and pays bonus for better quality.
Profit generates new business The women invest their larger income in new activities such as farming, production of bread, soap and knitted/crocheted clothing. Others make joint-investments, buy a grain mill and produce flour. All products are sold on the local markets and lead to an even better income for the women.
The cooperation is beneficial for both parties AAK produces ingredients for food items and cosmetics from the shea nuts. The company’s efforts make a huge difference in the poor communities and AAK is a very important customer for the women, who in return deliver high quality nuts.
TOMS has produced high quality chocolate since 1924. Their suppliers come from small primitive villages in Ghana where women and girls do most of the work from a very early age.
Women and girls spend many hours every day bringing water and firewood to their villages. They often walk many kilometres in up to 40 degrees of heat. Moreover, the women also look after the children and do the housekeeping, while they work almost as much in the cacao-plantations as the men.
Now men also bring water TOMS would like to change this. In co-operation with Danida, IBIS, Source Trust and Coop, TOMS gives lessons in gender equality to men and women. The lessons take place in the cacao plantations.
The project is very successful and now men often do the dishes, bring water and take part in the cooking, which is very unusual in Ghana’s villages. Furthermore, the women are taught how to profit better from the cacao production and how to ferment the cacao beans in a more eco-friendly way. As a result, the family can earn even more money while protecting the environment.
Local water wells During the years, Toms has provided many local water wells for the villages where their cacao suppliers live. Consequently, the families save time and the girls can stay more hours in school.
It is worth the efforts TOMS benefits from their large scaled social efforts in Ghana and is now an important and recognised player among the cocoa farmers. As a result, TOMS has a big say in the plantations and benefit from high-quality cocoa in return.
FROOSH Smoothies is a small Danish producer of smoothies. The company cooperates with the banana and mango plantation Malawi Mangoes.
In Malawi, the daily meal consists almost only of “nsima” which is a cornmeal porridge. Nsima is very cheap and filling but contains only very few vitamins. As a result, most people in Malawi and especially the children are suffering from malnutrition.
The women in Malawi both work in the fields and do the cooking.
FROOSH educates the women In order to solve the malnutrition problems Malawi Mangoes has initiated a large scaled organic gardening project. Here the women from the villages are taught how to grow carefully selected vegetables and fruit rich in vitamins instead of only corn. If things go as planned, the villages can within a year’s time benefit from healthy vegetables, fruit and herbs.
Economy and housekeeping Malawi Mangoes also provides education for the women in financial understanding and housekeeping. As a result, the women can both sell 20 percent of their harvest at the local market and provide healthy food for their families – they no longer have to choose between the two.
It is worth the while The Danish company works hard on spreading the message that trading with developing countries is the best way of fighting poverty. Firstly, trade creates private work places and growth. Secondly, it results in proud and loyal employees and good relations to FROOSH’s suppliers in Malawi. Essential factors for producing good food products.
The photo exhibition takes on tour around the country. See when and where:
Billund Airport: 13 July to 30 Aug.
Messe C, Fredericia: 1 Sep. to 2 Oct.
Alsion, Sønderborg: 7 Oct. to 30 Oct.
Lundsgaard, Kerteminde: 1 Dec. to 18 Dec.