International journalists celebrate women change-makers in Aarhus

A storytelling project travels from Nairobi to Aarhus to capture inspiring stories of female role models.

by Elisangela Roxo, photos by Kristina Steiner

For a group of journalists from five different countries across the world, it was exciting to experience #Aarhus2017 and the city’s time in the spotlight as the European Capital of Culture. With the celebration of all things Aarhus, something that seemed missing were the stories of the people that made the city what it was: its residents. As female journalists, the group wanted to explore who are the women who are shaping the city into the unique place that it is.

“We wanted to learn who an ‘Aarhus Pige’ was,” says British journalist Cynara Vetch. “We wanted to explore what it meant to be a woman change-maker in the city, as well as the personalities that were inspiring others and leading the way.”

A love of storytelling in different formats brought Vetch together with the diverse team. Marie Falk is a Danish radio journalist born and brought up in Aarhus, and Elisangela Roxo Magarotto is a marketing expert from Brazil. The three met on an Erasmus Mundus Master’s programme offered to international journalists by Aarhus University and the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX). Krisitina Steiner, a German photo journalist, and Icelandic social media manager Svanlaug Árnadóttir, make up the rest of the team.

Keen to share their different expertise and complementary skills to create a multifaceted project, they gathered together to found She Shapes Aarhus, a new chapter of the project She Shapes the City. Their idea is to discover inspiring women in the city and tell their stories from a multimedia perspective through text, podcasts and a picture exhibition to be held in the Spring. The community is invited to help them in the process by nominating whoever they consider a female changemaker via social media by using the hashtag #sheshapesAarhus.

kristina - strecth

From one continent to another
She Shapes the City is a storytelling project that had its first edition last year in Nairobi (Kenya), where Vetch was based before coming to Denmark. “Nairobi is a city with strong stories of women. But I do believe this format is also important for a developed country, in a city like Aarhus. Women need visibility everywhere. The stories need to be told,” she explains. Denmark is behind other Nordic countries when it comes to gender equality; it was the Nordic outlier in the Global Gender Gap Report for 2016, with its neighbours Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden claiming the top four spots.

A social media campaign which ran through June invited residents of Aarhus to nominate the women they feel are impacting their city in significant ways. Over 50 women were nominated ranging from scientists to artists, to a boxing champion and a woman who set up Christmas dinners to celebrate the festive season with the city’s homeless.

Now, the team will select the women that will be featured, and in August they will set up a creative photo shoot, working with local fashion brand September Salon. The team will also produce a series of in-depth podcasts that will explore who the women are and the challenges and successes that have got them where they are today.


She Shapes Aarhus is sponsored by the European Mundus Consortium and is partnering with local organisations including Aarhus co-working space Lynfabrikken, as well as Women In Science, an organisation which works to promote women and girls in Aarhus’s rich scientific and research communities.

You can find out more about She Shapes Aarhus on the website here.

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