Meet a Monaco Resident: Vibeke Brask Thomsen
What’s your story?
I was born in Denmark, grew up in Switzerland and Monaco. I left for 12 years to live mainly in the US and in Brussels, where I worked on disarmament and non-proliferation of small arms. Somehow, from there, I fell into the gender equality bubble 10 years ago and never left it.
Gender equality and inclusion is part of everything and yet it’s so misunderstood. It’s often perceived as a women’s fight against men, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s so much to unpack on this topic: rape culture, unequal pay, workplace discrimination, unbalanced parental leave, unpaid care work, period inequality and poverty, gender-based violence, policy and urban planning, and also climate change affects men and women, boys and girls, differently. My aim is to raise awareness, start uncomfortable discussions and engage the community to think about those issues and challenge them together.
More gender equality will benefit all of us, the challenge is getting men to understand this. I am a proud feminist and if you’re not one, you probably don’t know what it means!
Today, I run SheCanHeCan, which is a non-profit organisation based in Monaco and whose principal aim is to inspire and support girls to take leadership roles. We encourage all individuals to challenge deeply-held, life-limiting social stereotypes and to realize their full potential. SheCanHeCan also works to recognize the achievements and contributions of great female leaders throughout herstory.
We run workshops for schools and companies, as well as parent-child book clubs. We also celebrate the International Day of the Girl every year in Monaco, in partnership with the Conseil National (Parliament of Monaco). In September, we launched two exciting projects: The Equality Pledge (see if you can spot some familiar faces here) and the Red Box Project Monaco, which aims to address period inequality in Monaco.
Where did you live before moving to Monaco?
I’ve lived in Switzerland, Frankfurt, Vienna, London, the U.S. and finally Brussels, which I call the city of my heart.
When and why did you move to Monaco?
I am from Denmark, came to Monaco when I was eight with my parents and was raised mainly here, aside from a few years in a Swiss boarding school. I moved out after graduating from high school at 16 and came back in 2010, when our first child was born. It all made sense, I met my husband here, we had amazing friends and family here, the surroundings as well as many services such as schools, are fantastic and life is good under the sun! Mainly, it felt like coming home for me.
How much time do you spend traveling, and where do you go?
I travel a bit for work throughout the year – mainly short trips and I am so grateful to live in Europe and close to a major airport. We also travel every six weeks when the kids have school holidays. French is my mother tongue. There’s so much to explore and this country and its people never cease to amaze and surprise me.
What area do you live in, and what do you love and hate about it?
I live near Place des Moulins . I love its closeness to the beach, the shops and restaurants. I guess no matter where you live in Monaco, you’re only 30 mins walk away from the other end of the country! I dislike the permanent construction works and noise we are all subjected to.
Where is the best place in Monaco to get a tea or a drink?
What are your favorite upscale and casual restaurants in Monaco, and why?
- I love Maya Bay , it’s always good and has a nice ambiance.
- La Saliere is a good classic.
- Deli Sushi is perfect for take-aways.
- When I have lunch with my mother, it’s usually at The Grill in the Hotel de Paris — it’s a treat, but the view, the place, the terrace and those souffllés…
What is your favorite restaurant in the surrounding areas outside of Monaco?
The Indian restaurants of Beausoleil!
What do you love doing in Monaco?
I love swimming – all year round – so I miss the beach! I do boot camp at 6am – I am an early bird. I love going for power walks with close friends, or having a quick coffee after school drop-off. On weekends, I love hanging out with my kids and explore the region.
What is your favorite getaway in the surrounding areas outside of Monaco?
Italy or France. There are no special places I keep going back to, as I love to explore and discover new areas.
What is your favorite aspect of Monaco?
The closeness – it’s easy to meet friends, it’s never a hassle as you don’t waste hours in transport, there’s also a rich social and cultural life for such a tiny city. Monaco is so international yet down to earth – at least in my experience. People come from so many diverse and exciting backgrounds and I get to meet new people all the time.
What’s your best Monaco insider tip?
There are some really cool, down-to-earth people here. It’s really worth finding them as you will make lifelong friendships.
What is your favorite piece of life advice, and how did you learn it?
Stand up for what you believe in and speak up if and when you can. Also: what others think of you; it’s their problem, not yours.
When I was younger, I was often afraid of doing things that mattered to me, of being labeled ‘difficult’ – well I am what some might call difficult, I am also demanding but I am an optimist who’s convinced that we can actually change the world.