Giving Women’s 8th Annual Conference

The Fashion Industry: Women's Friend or Foe



Over the last 8 years, Giving Women has organised a yearly conference, which examines a theme that effects vulnerable girls and women globally.

The Giving Women Annual conference has become an important platform for convening UN organisations, Civil Society, NGOs, business, academia, and private individuals to INFORM, REFLECT AND ACT on what we need to do together to improve the lives fo girls and women globally.

This year we are focussing on the fashion industry in which 95% of the employees are women, providing on the one hand livelihoods for the poorest but often under unacceptable conditions. Giving Women is looking at this vast subject from the view point of production – supply chain and labour rights – and consumption. Women are always at the centre of our discourse.

Fashion is a source of pleasure and self-expression. It is a way we express who we are and our value to the world. Ironically, while the clothes we wear may make us feel proud, beautiful and strong, what they are doing to our environment and to the women who make our clothes is very destructive. Few people are aware that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after oil. While we may be sensitised to the poor labour practices that are affecting millions of people (95% women) who create our clothes, we do not have the  knowledge or opportunity to allow us make better choices.

Today, both people and the environment suffer as a result of the way fashion is made, sourced and consumed. Fashion Revolution

“The Fashion Industry: Women’s Friend or Foe? Conference App coming soon! Reduce paper & engage.


Olga Miler

Award-winning  Social Innovator


Aruna Kashyap

Senior Counsel, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch


Veronica D'Souza

Founder and CEO, Carcel 


Alexander Kohnstamm

Executive Director, Fairwear Foundation 



Anna Brismar

Founder and Owner of the consultancy Green Strategy and the
 Circular Fashion Network


Frieda de Koninck

European Regional Coordinator of Clean Clothes Campaign



Caroline Chalmer

Chief Operating Officer of Global Fashion Agenda


Damien Sanfilippo

Director of Standards and Assurance of Better Cotton Initiative 


Narmada Ramakrishna

Co-founder & CEO of Pink Maharani
Co-founder of Trade School Geneva


Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro is President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. She is an activist for women and girls’ health and human rights, and passionate about using philanthropy and technology to drive social change.

Born in Kenya, Musimbi traces her passion for human rights, peace, and justice to her Quaker family and community. She is one of 10 children – every daughter given the same educational opportunities as the sons. “I want the same for every girl and woman, no exceptions,” Musimbi has said.
Musimbi’s early work focused on the self-determination of African peoples and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. She was a national student leader who quickly took leadership on a wider stage, serving on United Nations and other International and Ecumenical Youth Forums, including an early role as an Executive Secretary for the Lutheran World Federation.In 1998, Musimbi was appointed general secretary (CEO) of the World YWCA, the first non-white woman to hold the role. She made the organization a go-to organization for young women’s leadership and for HIV prevention and care. She also transformed the World YWCA into a young-women-led organization, with young women under 30 making up 55% of the Global Board of trustees. Before joining Global Fund for Women as CEO, Musimbi was Director for Population and Reproductive Health at David and Lucile Packard Foundation, managing the $30 million grantmaking portfolio.

During her time at Global Fund for Women, Musimbi has seen the organization surpass $100 million in grantmaking and spearheaded a successful merger with another non-profit. She continues to expand the organization’s influence through her frequent contributions to major media outlets and many speaking engagements in prominent global forums. Musimbi has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin, and a doctorate in Feminist Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. In 2014, she was named one of the 21 women leaders for the 21st century by Women’s E-News. In 2015, Forbes magazine named her one of 10 women “power brands” working for gender equality.

Orsola de Castro is an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. Her career started as a designer with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere, which she launched in 1997 until 2014. 

Her designer collaborations include collections for Jigsaw, Tesco, Speedo, and 4 best selling capsule collections for Topshop from 2012 to 2014. In 2006, she co-founded the British Fashion Council initiative Estethica at London Fashion Week, which she curated until 2014. 

In 2013, with Carry Somers, she founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 100 countries around the world. Orsola is a regular keynote speaker and mentor, Associate Lecturer at UAL, as well as Central Saint Martins Visiting Fellow.

In this age of ‘fast fashion’, we have become voracious consumers of clothes — with disastrous consequences for our planet and the people. Yet each of us can become a fashion revolutionary — by slowing down.

Known among friends as the ‘environmentalist in stilettos’, Xenya Cherny-Scanlon has worked with the United Nations and major international organizations across three continents — in Africa, Australia and Europe — on promoting greener and fairer ways of living. Xenya brings together her two passions — fashion and sustainability — in a blog, which has a vision of “putting glam into green”. She also serves as a sustainable luxury and fashion expert, writer and researcher. Xenya lives in a small village on the shores of Lake Geneva with her husband and two children.

As Operating Partner of TAU Europe, based in Geneva, Catia is focused on deal origination, due diligence, and post-investment transformation improvements of TAU’s European investments. A fashion, beauty, and luxury industry professional, Catia contributes a unique combination of Direct Investment, Sustainability, and Change Management expertise spanning over 20 years, within GE, Gucci Group, JAB Holding, and Private Equity across US, Europe, Japan, and China. She strongly believes in sustainability, ESG transparency and responsibility as a catalyser and a cultural pillar to foster innovation.

Olga is a global marketing expert working on the edge of innovation. She has been with UBS for nine years in Global Ultra High Net Worth Philanthropy and later in Wealth Management Marketing, where she led the European marketing function. She has over 15 years’ experience in strategic change, client experience and digital innovation. Olga has been recognized for her transformational achievements with the UBS ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 Award’ and ‘Innovator of the Year 2016 Award’. After graduating from University of St. Gallen, she held international leadership roles in PricewaterhouseCoopers and Nestlé before joining UBS.
Olga is one of the founding members and global program manager of the UBS Wealth Management female program, ‘UBS Unique’. This five-year change program aspires to enhance UBS Wealth Management services for female clients globally, increase the financial confidence of one million women by 2021 and drive change across the industry to make financial services more accessible for women. ( #ChangingFaceOfWealth).

Leslie Johnston joined C&A Foundation as its first Executive Director in late 2013 and brings over 20 years of management experience across multiple sectors, including smallholder agribusiness, entrepreneurship and corporate philanthropy. At C&A Foundation, Leslie led the development of the foundation’s first global vision, mission, and strategy, anchored on making fashion a force for good. She oversees team of over 50 people in nine countries and a grant budget of over EUR 50 million, working to improve lives and livelihoods across the foundation’s five signature programmes.

Prior to this role, she managed the Swiss-based Argidius and COFRA Foundations, committed to helping enterprising people to help themselves. As the Deputy Director for TechnoServe in West and Southern Africa, she co-managed a $20 million portfolio and a diverse team. She also has top-tier management consulting experience, having worked for McKinsey & Company in DC and South Africa. She holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a double Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy and French from University of California at Berkeley.

Leslie currently serves on the boards of Fashion for Good B.V., COFRA Foundation, GoodWeave International, CottonConnect, and the Organic Cotton Accelerator.



Aruna Kashyap is a lawyer who works as senior counsel for the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch. Her work focuses on women’s labor and economic rights and violence against women, as well as on corporate accountability and labor rights in global supply chains, with a focus on the apparel industry. Previously, she researched and litigated in India with a leading legal aid nonprofit, India Center for Human Rights and Law. There, she worked on juvenile justice, sexual abuse, and children’s rights to education and food. Kashyap has a law degree from National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

Veronica is founder and CEO of Carcel, a Danish fashion label that makes luxury clothing made by women in prison in Peru and Thailand in order to give them new skills, fair wages and ultimately break with poverty. Carcel is re-defining the supply chain of fashion in order to eliminate waste create a sustainable model directly from material to producer to consumer. Prior, she co-founded the award-winning social business Ruby Cup which addresses the lack of affordable menstrual hygiene protection in East Africa. She is a sustainability strategist with special focus on solving the worlds pressing needs through innovative business models.

Veronica is a Global Shaper alumni under World Economic Forum. She is a SOCAP selected social entrepreneur (US), an Ashoka Youth Venture Mentor (KE), a selected Humanity In Action senior fellow (US and DK), a United World College Student and co-author of ‘The Road Map for Sustainable Leadership’ from the leading Scandinavian Think Tank, Monday Morning (DK). She is also sits on the jury of the world’s largest design award for designs that improves lives: INDEX Award.

Veronica has an executive education in Social Entrepreneurship from INSEAD Singapore, a Masters in International Business and Politics from Copenhagen Business School (CBS), and a specialization in Sustainable Business Operations and Strategies from Columbia Business School and CBS. She has a BSc. in Business, Languages and Culture from CBS and La UADE, Argentina.  

Alexander Kohnstamm is the new executive director of the Fair Wear Foundation. Alexander has extensive experience both working at NGOs and in international businesses.

He tries to achieve social development goals by involving the private sector. Alexander aims at  ‘business for good’ or ‘finance for good’ – using market forces and economic resources for better lives in developing countries. In his opinion, things have to be changed for this to happen, and that is what FWF is about: creating and promoting alternative ways of doing business in the garment industry, that are both socially and economically sustainable.

His most recent job was director of external affairs at PharmAccess Foundation, an organisation dedicated to connecting more people in Sub-Saharan Africa to better healthcare. Before that, he was the executive director of Partos—the Dutch platform for development organisations. However, Alexander’s career did not start in the development sector: he first worked as a marketing manager at Sony Europe and the Mitsubishi Group. 

Dr. Anna Brismar is the founder and owner of Green Strategy, a consultancy firm specialized in circularity and sustainability issues of the fashion, apparel and textile industry on a global scale.

Also she is the founder and developer of the Circular Fashion Framework and the developer and owner of the leading online platform, which is the first ever platform dedicated exclusively to circularity issues of the fashion, apparel, and textile industry. Furthermore, she is the founder and head of the Circular Fashion Network, an international network of professionals working with circularity and sustainability issues related to fashion, apparel, and textiles.

As head and owner of Green Strategy, Dr. Anna Brismar offers high-quality consultancy services and tailored advice to fashion brands, apparel companies, international chains and textile organisations on how to develop, advance and communicate their sustainability and circularity work more successfully.

Frieda De Koninck is the European regional coordinator of Clean Clothes Campaign. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is a network consisting of around 250 organisations worldwide that works to improve conditions of the mainly female workers in the global garment industry. Frieda has been involved with CCC since 1996. Initially her work focused on developing and organising consumer campaigns and awareness raising activities in Belgium. Now she is doing more lobby and coordination work both at global and European level. She likes the crossover CCC approach: combining labour and consumer rights, grass root activism and high level research, pioneering work and long track record in urgent appeals methodology.

Caroline Chalmer is chief operating officer of Global Fashion Agenda, where she leads partner engagement, commercial activities and day-to-day operations of the world’s foremost leadership forum on sustainability in fashion, including its flagship event, Copenhagen Fashion Summit. She is also the co-founder of, an e-commerce start-up enabling female entrepreneurs in the jewelry industry to scale and internationalise their businesses. is founded by an all-female team and employs only women, notwithstanding the current statistics showing only 3,8% of start-ups are led by all-female teams. 

Caroline holds a M.Sc. in International Business from HEC Paris with a specialization in Luxury Management. Previously, she was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and affiliated with McKinsey’s Apparel, Fashion & Luxury practice, where she led strategic projects for some of the world’s leading apparel and retail giants accross Europe, Asia and the U.S.

An environmental scientist by training, Damien has coordinated natural habitat restoration programs in Florida’s wetlands and biodiversity research programs in Madagascar, before working on the development and promotion of sustainable cotton production since 2005.

He has worked with organic cotton producers in West Africa, contributed to the development of innovative sustainable pest management methods, and has also worked with fashion schools across Europe, educating the fashion designers of tomorrow about sustainable cotton.

Executive Committee member of the Better Cotton Initiative until 2009, he contributed to the development of the BCI system before joining Fairtrade International as Global Product Manager for Fairtrade Cotton. Since 2014, Damien leads at BCI the team responsible for standards development, assurance and impact assessment.


Narmada Ramakrishna is Indian by birth, a global citizen by choice, living and working between Hamburg, Geneva and many parts of India. She is the co-founder of Trade School Geneva, a platform for alternative learning through barter and she is also the co-founder & CEO of her current social business pink maharani. The successful impact-focused company produces the finest hand-woven cashmere shawls working closely with the Ladhaki nomads; master Kashmiri weavers&artisans and women NGO’s & cooperatives. Pink maharani enlarges its impact by directly adopting girls into menstrual hygiene awareness programs in India through the sale of each product. She is currently launching her second social business, with a vision to make contemporary artisanal skills and designs accessible to the masses through an intuitive B2B online platform.

Her vision is to enable women & girls towards autonomy and dignity one product at a time.


Martine Jarlgaard has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Vogue, on BBC television and has given talks at Yale University, Singularity University, British Fashion Council's Fashion Forum 2018, Oslo Katapult Future Fest, Stockholm Fashion Tech Conference and China Fashion Forum.

Described as a technology pioneer by Forbes, Martine works in the intersection of technology, sustainability, fashion and art. Her drive towards positive change is complimented by her passion for sustainability and technology’s potential to change human behaviour and to disrupt the very core of the fashion industry.

After graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Martine Jarlgaard was hired to work with Vivienne Westwood, where she headed the Vivienne Westwood Red Label. Following this Martine worked with All Saints in London and as Head of Diesel Female Apparel in Italy before returning to the United Kingdom to launch Martine Jarlgaard London.

Forbes — As a designer, her work is heavily rooted in sustainability. She looks to technology as playing a significant role in helping to solve some of the industry's biggest challenges.

Huffington Post — Martine is a curious and impassioned designer with a rich educational background. She gained a BA/MA at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and did a stint at Rhode Island School of Design where she studied sculpture, artistic anatomy and anthropology amongst other broader fine art and design subjects.

Shanaaz Preena is the Director, Women-Go-Beyond / Women’s Advocacy for the MAS Holdings Group where she is championing Women’s empowerment in the Local, Regional and Global Apparel Industry. MAS Holdings is a 1.8 Billion Dollar globally recognized, design-to-delivery solutions provider in the realm of apparel and textile manufacturing in South Asia,  employing over 90,000 people in53 manufacturing facilities across 17 countries. Women go Beyond is an iconic program focussed on Women’s empowerment, which has won numerous awards internationally.

With a true passion for people, a sound academic background from the University of Colombo; Concordia University Canada and over 35 years of diverse experience in the Academic, Airline and Apparel Sectors, Shanaaz has a proven track record in Human Resource Management & Development and Service Delivery.  She has been honoured with several Awards including the “Pride of HR Profession Award” at the World HRD Congress 2010 for her leadership, contribution and iconic role in the fraternity; “The Women Leadership Achievement Award” at the World Women Leadership Congress in 2014 and the first IATA/Concordia University scholarship for Women in Aviation. She received her Executive education at McGill University, Montreal, Canada and the National University of Singapore.

Shanaaz has served as a panelist at many local and international conferences and seminars on related topics.


Angela de Wolff is co-founder of Sustainable Finance Geneva , a non-profit association which aims to promote responsibility and sustainability in finance. She held the Presidency from 2008 to 2011 and is still active in the executive committee.

Angela de Wolff has been involved in the financial sector for 20 years, 12 of which in the field of sustainable investment. Angela is a founding partner of Conser Invest, an independent advisory and asset management firm dedicated to sustainable investment solutions for private and institutional clients since 2007.

She began her career as a consultant with Andersen Consulting. In 1994, she was taken on as a senior financial analyst in the Research Department at Darier Hentsch & Cie. From 2002 to 2006, she was Head of the SRI team at Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch.

In 2010 she has been elected as Board Director of “Banque Cantonale de Genève” (BCGE).

Ms. Angela de Wolff obtained a Master in economics from the Lausanne University in 1989 and a Master's in international management from IFOR-Bocconi (Milan) in 1990. She became a Certified European Financial Analyst (CEFA) in 2000.