The Circle Member Ann-Marie O’ Connor reflects on #March4Women

Photo credit: Judit Prieto | #March4Women 2018, London.

On 4 March 2018, several members of The Circle attended the #March4Women rally in London with their friends and family. Ann-Marie O’Connor is one of those members. She has written about why she marched and why she will continue to support feminist causes in the future.

In this historic year that marks the 100th anniversary since some women got the right to vote, it could not be a better time to mobilise the surge of feminist energy currently being displayed throughout the world. History certainly appears to be repeating itself with the involvement of Helen Pankhurst, great-grand daughter of Emmeline, who also marched for women with us on 4 March 2018. I was reminded through her various media interviews that the struggle was never just about getting the vote. In an interview before her appearance at the Women of the World Festival 2018 at London’s Southbank Centre, she said “it was about individual women saying enough is enough, and there’s more that I want to do with my life, and I feel that my daughters should be able to do more with their lives” (Global Citizen, 7/3/2018).

Yes, my sentiments exactly and one of the reasons I wanted to take my own daughter with me to the march. But another reason for me was creating for her an understanding of the importance of taking the baton from one generation and passing it to the next. In these turbulent times we live, rights that have previously been won and fought for cannot be taken for granted and still need to be maintained. Women’s rights are still the fight of our generation. Keeping up the strength and resolve that is needed for current struggles is a legacy that hopefully we can, by our own participation, pass on to future generations of women, so that they can empower themselves for future struggles.

The Circle gave me the ideal opportunity to march alongside other members whilst also hearing speeches from many inspirational women. Especially heartening was having the march endorsed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, espousing the message that London should be a beacon for gender equality. In fact, it was wonderful to see so many men of all ages marching also. As I have a son as well, I do feel a responsibility to educate him about gender equality, particularly with regard to the area of relationships and respect towards women. As he also deserves to be treated with equal respect, I hold on to the hope that this reciprocity should lay the foundation for all future healthy relationships. Now that his sister has experienced her first march and had fun, I’m hoping he will join us next year!


Young Global Feminists at #March4Women

Photo credit: Judit Prieto.

On Sunday the 4th March, by the houses of Parliament, the air was cold, but the atmosphere was warm, filled with minds and hearts of people from all over — all protesting against the same thing. We were fighting against the abuse and discrimination and political imbalance against women. Above waves of people, flew colourful, hand-drawn and humorous posters in all shapes and sizes. A multitude of different people — men, women, teens, children, introverts — came out to raise awareness about the issue that affects many, daily. It was rainy, but we persisted with our heads high and hearts in our voices and hands. The march ended after drumming and chanting in Trafalgar Square: the place where the whole movement really started. Speeches were said and songs were sung and, most importantly, we gained attention. We gained attention politically and through the media to show everyone how we still need change. Yet again, it was a small step, but that small step felt good. It felt inspiring.

Written by Amelia and Emily, 14 years old. Amelia and Emily attended the #March4Women 2018 with their mum and other members of The Circle. They are the next generation of The Circle members and global feminists.

To find out more about our membership and how to sign up to become a member, click here.


Bina’s Story of Surviving Gender-Based Violence

 

Bina is a survivor of gender-based violence. She has received support from a women’s shelter in India, which was set up by The Asian Circle. This is how it changed her life.

When Bina was pregnant, she was physically and verbally abused by her husband and threatened with more abuse if she told anyone. When she fled to her family’s home, her husband attacked them too.

Bina and her family went to the police station but the police refused to help her. Luckily, one of The Circle’s and Oxfam’s partner organisations spotted the family as they were walking into the police station and offered their help.

The organisation offered Bina counselling and legal support. She has managed to put her husband behind bars, has applied for child maintenance and is learning how to sew so that she can get a job and raise her son Vijay, who is two years old now.

Despite enormous societal pressure, Bina refuses to return to her husband.

The Circle, Oxfam, several local organisations and women leaders in Chhattisgarh and Odisha are working together to set up support centres offering medical care, legal advice, counselling and shelters to survivors of gender-based violence. Click here to find out more about the project.


8 Women’s Rights Books to Choose from this Spring

 

Our mission at The Circle is to bring women together, defend women’s rights and give them a voice. Here are eight books by authors who do just that, to get you feeling inspired for the spring…

1. Jess Phillips, Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth

Jess Phillips is bold, she’s unapologetic, and she’s out to empower women. From violence to sisterhood to building a career, Phillips tackles her themes head on, providing gritty insight and no-nonsense advice. Her underlying message? “We’re women and we’re kick-ass. And that’s the truth”.

2. Anne Elizabeth Moore, Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking

From the sweatshops of Cambodia to the ateliers of Vienna, Moore takes us on a whirlwind tour of the sex and garment supply chain in this beautifully illustrated feminist zine. She examines the fraught interplay between gender, labour and production, highlighting individual voices to show the true cost of fast fashion. The result is a practical guide to a growing human rights problem too pressing to ignore…

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

In her most recent work, Adichie offers fifteen feminist principles – guidelines, as it were – to a friend, the soon-to-be mother of a baby girl. Though addressed to Ijeawele, Adichie’s suggestions are universally applicable: we could all benefit from questioning social norms, or being more open about female sexuality. Adichie’s writing is warm, frank and inspiring.

4. Hibo Wardere, Cut: One Woman’s Fight Against FGM in Britain Today

This powerful, devastating work aims to shed light on the oft-overlooked issue of female genital mutilation. Wardere shares her personal journey, from her cutting as a six-year-old to her present role as an outspoken anti-FGM campaigner. A vital read.

5. Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

A tireless advocate for girls’ education and equal opportunities, Malala here tracks her journey from war-torn Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. I Am Malala shows the potential of young women and girls; this one will inspire a generation.

6. Sue Lloyd-Roberts, The War on Women: And the Brave Ones Who Fight Back

During her forty years as a video journalist, Sue Lloyd-Roberts met women who were victim to unspeakable atrocities, from rape to FGM to honour killings to imprisonment. Here, she gives voice to the forgotten women, and to those who fought back. A must-read from one of the most acclaimed TV journalists of her generation.

7. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Set in a dystopian totalitarian future, The Handmaid’s Tale offers a terrifying glimpse of what happens when the legislation of women’s bodies is taken to extremes. Now a major TV series, Atwood’s chilling narrative is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago.

8. Julie Bindel, The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth

Justice for Women co-founder Julie Bindel spent two years travelling the world, meeting pimps, pornographers, sex workers and abolitionists in a bid to uncover the truth about the sex trade. The Pimping of Prostitution is the remarkable result of her journey.

 

Written by Jessi Wells, volunteer and member of The Circle.


Annie Lennox: an Evening of Music and Conversation

 

 

Annie Lennox: An evening of music and conversation, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Her voice was the epitome of pure soul

Pop star turned soul diva turned international campaigner. In recent times we have seen Annie Lennox mostly in that last role, and so think of her as a highly serious, passionate and intense person.

The revelation of this evening was to discover that she is genuinely funny, warm, engaging and effortlessly charismatic.

The occasion was a fund-raiser for Lennox’s charity, The Circle, which aims to empower disempowered women across the globe. Interviewed by the broadcaster Jo Whiley, she went through her life and career, aided by screen projections of her right from a baby, through school, with parents and grandparents, outside the Aberdeen tenement building, with no bathroom, where she grew up, through to the years of fame and success…

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Annie’s put a spell on me again… Blending women’s rights with pop nostalgia Annie Lennox gives a rare performance at London’s Sadler’s Wells

A gig by Annie Lennox now comes along less often than a change of government.

Her last full concert in Britain took place in the age of Gordon Brown. Back in the John Major era, in 1995, I wrote a profile of her and tagged along for an entire world tour, which amounted to two shows in New York and one in a Polish forest.

So this is an event: ‘an evening of music and conversation’ in aid of The Circle, the NGO Lennox founded to boost women’s rights around the world…

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The Circle Founder Annie Lennox on Notes on Being a Woman, i-D

at college, pop icon annie lennox was told to become a teacher

The former Eurythmics star, who has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, tells i-D about dropping out of college, the wisdom of ageing, and her women-focused charity The Circle in her Notes on Being a Woman.

It’s not easy to get an interview with Annie Lennox. A globally recognised pop legend, famous for massive hits like 1983’s Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) with former band the Eurythmics — as well as her iconic, androgynous bright red buzzcut — Annie doesn’t often perform these days, and turns down most interview requests. Having moved away from making music, she is now an activist and campaigner for the rights of women and girls around the world, through her NGO The Circle…

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