Strong Women No.14: Margrethe Vestager – The Danish EU Commissioner for Competition who made APPLE pay €13 bn back taxes

Insights, Oddities
Margrethe`s simple, liberal philosophy:
 “Politics should give all people opportunities and enable them to make free choices.”


Margrethe Vestager`s investigations proved that the Apple’s secretive deal with the Irish government amounted to state aid – the company paid tax at something like 0.005% – and that it therefore contravened European law. Apple owed the people of Ireland back taxes totalling a jaw-dropping €13bn (£11bn) plus interest.

That salvo against Apple was only Vestager beginning to count the ways in which global corporations might finally be held to account by European democracies. She has also driven investigations of Fiat, Gazprom and Starbucks.
The “Luxleaks” revelations, a cache of documents relating to corporate tax affairs in Luxembourg now in the public domain, allowed close scrutiny of the tax arrangements of McDonald’s and Amazon for the first time.

Her team are also pursuing a case against Qualcomm (for selling computer chips below market price allegedly to drive competitors out of business) and fined Facebook €110m (£94m) over the data mining of Whatsapp accounts, which contravened its takeover terms.
There are also three separate antitrust cases against Google, which accuse it of using a mixture of algorithms and dominance to destroy competition. The first of these, which insists Google skewed its search results to favour its own online shopping services, led to a €2.4bn (£2.14bn) fine. The others, including what Vestager calls the “real heavyweight one”, which alleges that the Android platform has built-in monopolies, are pending.


Vestager has been quietly asserting her understanding that the political battles of the present and the future should not be among nations, but between democracies and globalised corporations, which for too long have had things their own way. Those battles can’t be fought by individual countries because global companies just base themselves elsewhere (look at the UK and its secret state aid of GBP 80 mio for Nissan to make them stay in Sunderland after Brexit). But if a market the size of the European Union starts to assert its collective interest, then the corporations might have to take notice, act fairly and pay tax.


According to the Danish EU commissioner, the idea of “free trade” and regulation by tariffs has to be replaced by the idea of creating relationships and reciprocity:
‘If you do this, you can sell it to us, and we will commit to the same standards.’” In that way, she suggests, “we can use trade agreements to address working conditions, animal rights issues, environmental issues across the world. 

For a long time that marketplace has seemed out of kilter, to be the engine of vast inequality and of the cynicism and anger that accompanies it. Vestager acknowledges that after the financial crash, little was done to repair a system that had proved so damaging, and too much effort was put into restoring the status quo. If European government is seen to apply its rules fairly to Google and Fiat and Starbucks and the rest, though, it can send a powerful message. How does she define that message?

Cit: “That the market is not the society. For a long time we have been told that is all it is. But the market is there to serve us as citizens. If the market becomes everything, you have this feeling that you are being cheated all the time, and that you are not in control. I think we have the power to change that.”

Bildergebnis für steuerflucht 2018


Bildergebnis für EU



Major antisocial tax cheaters….

  • Starbucks (is paying NO taxes in Germany & France)
  • Amazon (German tax loss of € 40 mio in 2012 only)
  • Disney (has founded a bank in Luxembourg to which they transfer their profits and finally pay <1% taxes) 
  • Google (tax haven: Ireland, Google was sued by France: €1,6 bn back tax, Italy: 227,5 mio back tax in 2016)
  • The Catholic Church (tax evasion thanks to the Netherlands)
  • Facebook (has paid just GBP 4.327,- taxes in UK in 2014, although UK is the 2nd largest market of facebook)
  • McDonalds (transfers its profits to Luxemburg and is paying <1% taxes; McDonalds is sued by the EU & France, where McD generates € >75 mio profits p.a. because of this practice)
  • Apple (2016 Apple has generated €19 bn profits on Bermuda Island – 0% tax)
  • IKEA (about 10% tax only thanks to komplex corporate structure)
  • ZARA
  • and others
Ähnliches Foto
Fight Against Tax Evasion


  • KPMG
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers,
  • Ernst & Young,
  • Deloitte 
  • and others

From 1985 to 2018 the average corporation tax fell from 50% to 24% globally.

Recently, The United States further decreased the corporation tax from 35% to 21%.

A Danish study (Copenhagen Business School & University of Berkeley in cooperation with the Danish finance ministry) shows that Europe is losing at least 1/5 of their corporation tax income due tax exiles. This is only the direct tax loss. Further loss of tax income is caused by tax decreases in favor of corporations to avoid the transfer of profits to tax havens. 

90 – 95% of all offshore transactions serves tax evasions.

The damage for Europe is estimated by € 1.000 bn according to the EU commission.

Bildergebnis für steuerflucht 2018

Strong Women No.13: Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun & Dina Ali Lasloom – “No Family Affair”

Insights, Reisen, Travel
Rahaf successfully escaped and got asylum in Canada

INCREDIBLE +++ Hundreds of women – like Rahaf and Dina – have tried to escape Saudi Arabia in recent years, fleeing the strict male guardianship laws that control every aspect of their lives.

Shame on all countries, organizations and people who let the women down for some sticky, dirty (oil) money.

“The women who make it and the ones who don’t.”

Bildergebnis für dina ali lasloom
Dina Ali Lasloom – trapped in Manila on the way to Australia for asylum seeking.
Bildergebnis für dina ali lasloom

Poem No. 75: “You will never see Me fall” by Joyce Alcantara

Gedichte, poems

You may see me struggle, 
but you won’t see me fall. 
Regardless if I’m weak or not, 
I’m going to stand tall. 

Everyone says life is easy, 
but truly living it is not.
Times get hard, 
people struggle
and constantly get put on the spot. 

I’m going to wear the biggest smile, 
even though I want to cry. 
I’m going to fight to live,
even though I’m destined to die. 
And even though it’s hard 
and I may struggle through it all,
you may see me struggle…
but you will NEVER see me fall.

Poem No. 59: “Fragile Things – Zerbrechliches” by Friða Ísberg (Iceland)

Gedichte, poems
Iceland, Black Beach


wet paper
tangled in birch branches

inside the window, smoking,
a woman with red hair

says to herself:

they can’t hear me anymore

slip into the white
like burst egg yolks

the living room is heavy

on the carpet,
fragile things, scattered,

soaked in bile

she wraps them
in old newspapers

and shoves them back
down her throat

Translated from the Icelandic into English by Meg Matich


Nasses Papier
verheddert in Birkenzweige

Drinnen das Fester, rauchend,
eine Frau mit rotem Haar

sagt zu sich selbst:

sie können mich nicht mehr hören

gleiten in das Weiß
wie geplatzte Eidotter

das Wohnzimmer ist groß/mächtig

auf dem Teppich,
zerbrechliche Sachen, verstreut,

durchtränkt mit Gallensaft

sie wickelt sie ein
in alte Zeitungen

und schiebt sie zurück 
Ihre Kehle hinunter.

Translation from English to German by Weiss-Nix


Fríða Ísberg (1992) is an Icelandic poet and reviewer. Her first collection of poems, Slitförin (e. The Stretch Marks), was released by Partus Press in October, 2017. The collection was awarded the Icelandic Booksellers Choice Award for Poetry 2017, received the Grassroots Grant from the Icelandic Literature Center and was nominated for Fjöruverðlaunin, The Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize in 2018. She is a member of the Icelandic poetry collective Svikaskáld (e. The Imposter Poets) and writes occasionally for the Times Literary Supplement.

Strong Women No. 13: Stella Deetjen – German Founder & Head of “Back to Life” in India & Nepal

Insights, Reisen, Tipps, Travel

STELLA DEETJEN – An astonishing strong woman who ended up spontaneously building up a non-profit aid organization with a seed capital of USD 100,- to support local lepers in INDIA as a young student & backpacker tourist in 1997. Gradually, she grow her organization & network that supported street children and founded medical care centres and 13 slum-schools.

Since 2009 Stella and her team expanded to NEPAL, where her organization “BACK TO LIFE” founded 10 schools and medical care & birth centes and provided emergency help by reconstructing 7 schools after the big earthquake.



Stella Deetjen works as a German development worker in Nepal and India, is the foundress and managing director of the non-profit organization “Back to Life – Helping others help themselves in Nepal and India” and is the representative of the aid organization. She can also speak six languages fluently, including Hindi and Nepali.

Born in 1970 in Frankfurt/Main, she successfully completed her high school at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymnasium in Bad Homburg and finished her acting education. At the beginning of the 1990s, Stella Deetjen had planned to study photography in Rome. Her place of study was already confirmed and safe. Before the studies started, she traveled for several months as a backpacker through India, where she eventually met the local lepers in Benares (now Varanasi). The encounter with these in India so called “Untouchables” ultimately led to the decision to stay in India and to help the lepers. In 1996, the non-profit organization was finally founded.  

Caring for leprosy patients and their relatives in Benares let to caring for street children. Until December 2017, Back to Life had run children’s homes in cooperation with an Indian partner organization and a total of 13 slum-schools, so called non-formal schools, which considered the daily routines of the slum schools. After 21 years all India projects phased out.

In 2009 already, Stella Deetjen expanded her help in Nepal. In the medieval mountain region of Mugu, the organization has already built 10 schools and 7 birth centres, in Chitwan the focus is on supporting disadvantaged girls, their schools and the population as a whole of the project area. Through targeted trainings and support – including medical care – the population is taught to help themselves for not creating dependencies in the future.

After the earthquake in Nepal, the organization also provided emergency help and reconstructed 7 schools.

In 2016, Stella published her book “Untouchable – My Life Among the Beggars of Benares”, in which she tells about the early years of her work and of the organization. 


The first time that I met lepers was in Benares – during a backpacking trip. They begged on the roadside, outcasted by society. Their situation seemed hopeless, as if they were just waiting for their death. I was sitting on some stone steps suffering from bad stomach pain and could not walk anymore. Then an old, white-haired leper came and asked if he could help me. I was stunned: I was the tourist with money in my pocket – I should have offered him my help.

He gave me a loving look that hit me right to the heart and soul and touched my head giving me a blessing. I was not afraid of his touch, though at that time I did not know if I could catch leprosy. He gave me so much human warmth that I could go on a little later.

The next day, I went to see this man to give him some useful things. When I asked for his name, he said: “My dear child, for 14 years no one has asked for my name, why do you want to know it now?” Musafirs answer did not let go of me.

I began to meet with him and his companions every day. The joy of being interested in them was written all over their faces. So, time passed… I learned my first words in Hindi with the help of Musafir and had already build a friendly relationship with the whole group: some called themselves my grandfather, my little brother or sister.

One day the police suddenly took all the male lepers and locked them on a truck. The police explained that begging was illegal, and the men were to be sent to jail. I was afraid that I would never see them again and something terrible could happen to them.

It was a decision of the moment: If I really thought them to be my brothers, then I should not leave them defencelessly to their fate. So, to the horror of the police, I jumped on the truck. They ordered me to get out again – but I refused. When we left, hundreds of people followed us on their bicycles. Some scolded me, other called out “God bless you”.

For hours we drove through the city and more beggars were collected. Then they were detained in a camp. Some asked me to send telegrams to their families to inform them that they were still alive but could not send any money. Because they send almost all their begging money, so that wife and children could live and survive in the village. For months, I tried everything to end their captivity, went to the mayor, magistrate and the highest judge of Benares and hired an Indian lawyer. But the matter proved to be extremely difficult.

One day I was interviewed, and the article was published in almost every Indian newspaper. As a result, the beggars were released in small groups. Finally free again, they pleaded with me not to return to my home country. During the same time, I met a Swiss doctor who told me that leprosy was treatable and gave me US$ 100. These US$ 100 became the cornerstone of my project, and I started the first street clinic for leprosy patients and their children with the support and help of a Western nurse.”

Stella Deetjen

Of course, donations, helping hands and sponsors are always 
For more details about BACK TO LIFE:

Poem No. 46: “For You My Love” by Jaques Prevert

Gedichte, poems, Uncategorized
Ähnliches Foto

For You My Love

I went to the market, where they sell birds
and I bought some birds
for you
my love
I went to the market, where they sell flowers
and I bought some flowers
for you
my love
I went to the market, where they sell chains
and I bought some chains
heavy chains
for you
my love
And then I went to the slave market
and I looked for you
but I did not find you there 
my love

Strong Women No. 12: Vithika Yadav – Human Rights Activist and Head of Love Matters (India)


Vithika Yadav – Head of Love Matters India

Vithika is the driving force behind Love Matters India. Based in Delhi, she’s a passionate human rights activist. She believes that getting sex out in the open can help end a lot of misery caused by sexual violence or harassment – and can bring us all a lot of pleasure!

Blush-free facts and stories about love, sex and relationships

LOVE MATTERS is an online multi-media platform that provides insights and facts  about love, sex and relationships. Topics are…

  • love and relationships
  • our bodies
  • birth control
  • pregnany
  • marriage
  • sexual diversity
  • making love

Website (in Hindi and English):

LOVE MATTERS engages the people to talk about love, sex and relationships in an open, honest and non-judgemental way. The vision of Project Love Matters is to be the leading source of information in a world where love, sex and relationships are a right, a choice and a pleasure. Love Matters is a global project with operations In India, China, Latin America, Kenya and Egypt. 

In India, Love Matters is the first and the most popular bilingual website (Hindi and English), with a reach of close to 2 million per month. In India, we have a community of more than 1 million Facebook followers, making us the most popular sexual and reproductive health and rights page in India on Facebook.

Cit.: “In India, talking about sex is still a taboo. Sex is a topic that brings feelings of shame and embarrassment, guilt and inadequacy for many people. I myself grew up with so many myths and misconceptions around sex. It is for this reason I feel so passionate about the work we do at Love Matters. To be able to provide young people with non-judgemental, pleasure positive, open and honest information that helps them make informed choices. The youth today is the future of tomorrow and investing in their sexual health is critical around the globe.” ( Vithika Yadav)

Vithika Yadav applied design thinking skills along with her team at Love Matters India to create the award-winning #BearNoMore campaign, raising awareness about intimate partner violence.


Vithika Yadav is a human rights professional with over a decade of experience working on human trafficking, modern day slavery, sexual rights and gender rights.

Internationally recognized as an expert on survivor care and protection services, Vithika was awarded as one of the Top 99 under 33 Young Foreign Policy Leaders in the world by Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy in the USA in 2012, and in 2016, she was recognized for being one of the top 120 under 40 next generation of Family Planning Leaders in the world. 

Over the years, she has worked for premier organizations such as UN Office on Drugs and Crime, BBC World Service Trust, Free the Slaves, and MTV EXIT.

Vithika advises NGOs and INGOs about how to create rights-based programs of recovery through which women and girls can emerge from being victims to being human rights advocates.

Vithika’s latest project Love Matters is the first ever website in India to give complete, honest, and unbiased information on love, sex, and relationships in both Hindi and English. Operating under Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the website provides relatable culture-specific content that helps young people to make informed choices in order to have safer, healthier, and happier sex and relationships.

In 2013, Love Matters won the prestigious ‘Award for Excellence & Innovation in Sexuality Education’ from the World Association for Sexual Health, and most recently, their intimate partner violence awareness campaign #BearNoMore won a Social Media For Empowerment Award.

Vithika Yadav and her team at Love Matters India recently won a Social Media for Empowerment Award
Vithika Yadav and her team at Love Matters India recently won a Social Media for Empowerment Award for their work busting taboos about sexual health in India.

Strong Women No. 11: “The Face of The Anti-Mafia Movement” – Lea Garofolo (Italy)

Insights, Uncategorized

LEA GAROFOLO had been born into the “Mafia aristocracy” in Calabria, as well as the violence that came with it. Her father was murdered when she was a baby, and her small village of 400 people has had 35 murders in 30 years. Lea wanted to leave from an early age.

At 16, she married Carlo Cosco, a man from a farming family who she believed would take her away to Milan. But Cosco had concealed the fact he was a small-time cocaine smuggler. For him, marrying into a crime family like Lea’s was a promotion too good to resist.

As their marriage sucked her deeper into the crime world, she became depressed and made several attempts at suicide. In 2002, she told Italian police: “You don’t really live. You just survive in some way. You dream about something — anything — because nothing’s worse than that life.”  


The birth of her daughter, Denise, in the spring of 1991 had given Lea something to live for. When her daughter was 10, Lea decided she couldn’t condemn her to the same life.

LEA GAROFOLO became only the second woman to testify against the ‘Ndrangheta, which is regarded as the most powerful Mafia group of in total three Mafia families based in Italy.

It is estimated that the ‘Ndrangheta makes about $ 50-100 billion US a year, has an arms smuggling network and controls 70% of the cocaine in Europe. 


Secrecy is the secret to its successand that is based on this incredibly tight, claustrophobic, cult-like family structure, which hasn’t changed since the late 19th century.

Women in that Mafia culture are treated as objects only. The girls are married off young to form alliances.

Lea was offering the police information in exchange for protection. When she suddenly went missing in 2009, Denise was left alone with her father.

Bildergebnis für against ndrangheta protests
Bildergebnis für against ndrangheta protests
anti-Mafia movement in Milan (North Italy)
Ähnliches Foto

Strong Women No. 10: “Corruption Fighter” – Maryam Mughal (Pakistan)

Insights, Uncategorized
Maryam Mughal, Project Coordinator at our Anti-Corruption Legal Advice Centre in Pakistan. 

Maryam Mughal – Transparency International Pakistan

“Training women to engage with a government employee, such as the teacher of the area, allowed them to exercise their right as a concerned citizen, making it irrelevant whether they were a man or a woman.”

Maryam Mughal has helped hundreds of citizens in Pakistan speak out against corruption, many of them women. She highlights how women are hit harder by corruption – even when it comes to disaster relief – and how something as simple as a chair can give them back their voice. Women especially suffering from an unfair distribution of wealth and rights.

Maryam Mughal leads several initiatives at Transparency International Pakistan, including organising women’s assemblies as part of the Eye on Corruption project that aims to empower women to foster change.

In  fact, all experts studies prove that women are the critical success factor for development. If women are supported (e.g. by legal advise, education, micro-credits and so on) the entire family – in particular the next generation – will get a chance to ttake benefit of improved health and education. Therefore, it is much more efficient and effective to strengenth the women in order to lay the foundation for sustainable progess.