At Luxtra, we name our collections after our favourite female artists, activists and poets who continually inspire us to be better as a company. Female leaders across the world are also a prominent source of encouragement and therefore, we decided to name our compact zip wallet in honour of European Commission Executive Vice-President, Margrethe Vestager (pronounced Vest-ayer).
Margrethe has a notable career in politics. After being the Danish minister of education and economic affairs, a member of the parliament, and the political leader of the Social Liberal Party she now has the important role of equipping Europe for the Digital Age. This means that her principal occupations are to set the European strategy (or rulebook) on data and its approach to artificial intelligence, including its human and ethical implications.
Before we move on to discuss her political work and why she is such a great source of inspiration to us, let's dive briefly into her upbringing. Coming from a small village in Denmark just off Ølgod, Margrethe developed a strong sense of community from an early age. With both her parents being Lutheran rectors, the family house was a centre point for the village's activities. In a way, growing up amidst life's circle of births, weddings and funerals provided a set of essential all-embracing skills for her future public life.
“We have this community thing in Denmark. And that is very much her way of living.” - Elisabet Svane, Margrethe's biographer.
Accustomed from a young age to civil services, Margrethe has become a strong orator and master of the political arts of conflict and compromise. She has been in politics since the age of 21 and obtained a degree in Economics from The University of Copenhagen in 1993. Since then, she has plunged herself into the pursuit of civic participation and has become a pillar of the Danish Social Liberal Party.
In 2014, Margrethe took office as a European commissioner and started her mission to fine big US corporates for their unspoken practices. Since her journey began, the Danish politician sued Google £3.76 billion for forcing manufacturers to pre-install Chrome and Google Search on Android phones, charged Apple £11.42 billion for tax evasion in Ireland and Amazon £222 million for the same case in Luxembourg. She also punished Facebook £875 million for its opaque takeover of WhatsApp and Qualcomm £875million for paying Apple to ensure that it would not buy chips from other companies.
Pretty impressive, right? Well, there is more....
Vestager is a mother of three daughters who self-declares as a feminist that believes in free speech, free assembly, free trade and making decisions for oneself. Besides sharing the same opinions, we value immensely her real powers of kindness and resolve. She often points out how gender equality in the workplace moves “at a completely unacceptably slow speed”, and isn't afraid to prove her point when faced with difficult opponents.
“She has strong powers and she will use them,” says French MEP Sylvie Goulard. “She has the character, she has the guts.”
To conclude in the words of Svane, Vestager's debut in politics was not as successful as she hoped. “When she started as a political leader, she was a disaster,” says the biographer. “At that time she learned to go into conflict. It was a lesson to her: you have to stand up for your views, even though everyone thinks you're an idiot.” As a small business, we admire Margrethe's perseverance and her political journey always encourage us to face adversity without fear, to believe in our visions and to never back down from a challenge.