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COPENHAGEN

Copenhagen installation critiques lack of women statues

Fifty white pedestals without statues have been erected in Copenhagen to draw attention to the lack of historical women represented in the public domain in Denmark.

Copenhagen installation critiques lack of women statues
The exhibition '50 Queens' at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen on September 2nd. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix
“In Denmark, there are 2,500 statues. And only 28 of those statues are of women, which…is about one percent,” said Svante Lindeburg, the head of the Golden Days festival which organised the temporary installation “50 Queens”.
 
“We want that to change”, he told AFP.
 
He acknowledged that it wasn’t possible to change the city landscape overnight, but “what we can do is forward that agenda”.
 
“So we created the 50 pedestals, and we named 50 women to be on those pedestals”, he said.

 
The pillars are statue-less to emphasise the lack of recognition for women, despite Denmark being a bastion of feminism.
 
The pedestals are located in one of central Copenhagen’s most emblematic locations, Kongens Nytorv — which means “The King’s New Square” — positioned so they encircle a statue of King Christian V mounted on horseback.
 
The spot has been symbolically re-named “The Queen’s Square” for two weeks.

 
The women honoured include author Karen Blixen (1885-1962), painter and one of the country’s first transgender women to undergo sex reassignment surgery Lili Elbe (1882-1931), and 16th century scientist Sophie Brahe.
 
Forty-nine personalities were chosen by a jury among hundreds of extraordinary women, with the public tasked with choosing the 50th woman. That pillar is the only one not painted white, instead covered in mirrored glass.  
 
Architect Louise Mould, who helped create the installation that opened on September 2nd, said the mirrored pillar also represents everyone.
 
Everyone ought “to be able to stand up there and look at themselves, look at their friends … look at the people that surround them and realise that they can have as much importance in the world as the women represented here”, she told AFP.
 
Scanning QR codes placed on the pillars, visitors can learn about innkeeper Maren Splids, burned at the stake for witchcraft at the start of the 18th century, as well as activist and women’s rights pioneer Maria Engelbrecht Stokkenbech (born in 1759), writer Tove Ditlevsen (1917-1976) and singer Natasja Saad (1974-2007).
 
The pedestals honour deceased women only, and vary in height from around 50 centimetres to three metres.
 
“It’s a very good idea that all the women portrayed here are from different backgrounds, they come from different professions. It shows that women have made an impact on every part of society for always”, visitor Caroline Virklund told AFP.
 
“It is about time the focus is put on these women and that they are given a place, a very public place in the centre of Copenhagen,” added Louise, a 28-year-old historian.
 
In the Danish capital, only seven historical statues commemorate women, compared to 65 for men and 12 for animals, according to city hall.
 
Inaugurated by Queen Margrethe II as part of the official celebrations for her golden jubilee this weekend, the installation will be in place until September 18th but some pedestals are due to go on display in other parts of Denmark after that.

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EQUALITY

Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

A Danish study has concluded that women are often paid less than men for doing the same job.

Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

The study, from Copenhagen Business School, analysed the salaries of 1.2 million people in Denmark aged 30-55 years.

On average, women earn 7 percent less despite having the same profession and same job as their male colleagues, researchers concluded.

CBS professor Lasse Folke Henriksen, one of the report’s co-authors, said the results suggests that the overall disparity between the wages of men and women in Denmark is not solely a result of the pay grades in the professions in which they work.

“The equality debate has for some time focused on wage hierarchy in female-dominated and male-dominated professions,” he said.

“But this suggests there is also a wage gap between men and women with the same job function,” he said.

The study does not specify reasons for the wage gap. Henriksen said further research will address this, but existing research offers potential explanations.

“Family relations mean a lot. Women who have children put more work into home care and so on. That could help to explain it,” he said.

Denmark is not the only country looked at by the study.

The study uses data registered from 2015 and finds an overall wage gap for all countries of 18 percent, with women therefore earning considerably less than men on average.

Along with France, Denmark has the smallest wage gap (7 percent) of all countries analysed. Nordic neighbours Norway and Sweden are close behind with 9 and 8 percent respectively.

The largest wage gap found by the study was 26 percent in Japan.

“So Denmark is well placed,” Henriksen said.

“We also have analyses from further in the past so we can see that the wage gap has shrunk over the years. That’s very positive, and that has also happened in other countries,” he said.

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