The Stand Up Movement in Sri Lanka

Our member Dushy has co-written a blog post about Ashila Dandeniya, an inspiring woman working for the rights of garment sector employees, and The Stand Up Movement in Sri Lanka.

Founder’s story

Ashila Dandeniya’s was first exposed to Katunayake Industrial Zone soon after finishing school. Her first job was as a Quality Checker for a top garment factory. Ashila’s position was unfairly terminated as a result of a conflict, however, with the support of Right 2 Life Human Rights Centre, she represented herself at the Labour Tribunal at the age of 22 and was offered a settlement amount of 1 year’s salary. This was the beginning of her activist journey to fight for the rights of garment workers in Sri Lanka.

Although she returned to work in another garment factory, before long she left to become a part of ALARM, a subsidiary of Oxfam which worked on projects involving labour rights. She worked as a programme coordinator for 5 years on projects concerning living wage, living condition, and freedom of association. By the end of ALARM assignment, Ashila had experience, expertise, and support among fellow workers in the garment industry. So, with just 12 members, Ashila initiated The Standup Movement to continue the work she’s passionate about.

The Stand Up Movement

The purpose of SUM is to educate the workers in the importance of taking initiative and taking on leadership roles in the factories, to be involved in their worker’s rights and to provide a safe space for the workers to discuss their problems.
In the beginning, SUM focused mainly on creating a dialogue with garment sector workers to understand their concerns and expectations. It emerged out of discussions that workers desired to watch films, an activity banned in most boarding houses due to the electricity usage, as an opportunity to engage with one another. SUM began organizing film screenings which gave SUM the chance to build relationships with workers, gain an insight into their lives and further understand the challenges that they faced.

SUM continued to grow and increase its membership by continuing to hold events for the garment sector workers including a cross-factory cricket tournament between 32 teams that went on for 3 months. It was entirely funded by the workers and resulted in SUM welcoming 250 new members. For a small fee, membership entails donations for the funerals of two family members and access to emergency loans.

Man Sandhi

In 2009, SUM, with the support of Rights Now published ‘Man Sandhi’, a book that included 15 case studies (out of 78 case studies conducted) on how the withdrawal of GSP Plus impacted workers with salary cuts, meal reductions, and the limitation of other essential facilities and provisions factories.
SUM launched the book in the presence of factory owners, international media, NGOs, and workers from various factories to great success. The entire event was organized by the members of SUM and the book written by Ashila herself. As the first publication that discussed the issues from the perspective of the workers, this was a huge step for those in the sector. The acclaim that Ashila received from this publication also continues to raise awareness.

The vision

The vision of SUM is to build a new concept trade union that deviate from traditional methods; a trade union that truly stands for the social security of workers.
SUM believes that traditional trade union methods are presently ineffective, from language and colours they use to strategies they employ to communicate to workers. SUM aims to take a fresh approach in order to achieve a higher participation and is proud of its members who have gone on to take leadership in the field of workers’ rights in their respective factories.

Some of the main challenges that workers face as identified by SUM

– Minimum wage not covering the living wage and the factories justifying this with overtime and incentives.
– Sexual harrassment
– ‘Hidden Cost’— workers doing overtime and not having time for social participation resulting in poor social dignity.
– Working without drinking water, not going to the toilet, and not taking full breaks so that they can achieve targets and make more money.
– Poor diet and as a result suffering from nutritional deficiencies such as Anemia.
– Language and communication problems faced by workers recruited from North and East parts of the island.
– Poor condition of the boarding houses without proper facilities.
– Break-ins at boarding houses.
– Being cheated by vendors.
– Workers consider this as a short term job and therefore less commitment to stand up for rights and make a change.
– Society’s negative attitude towards the factory workers and a general lack of respect from the community.

These issues are incredible damaging to garment sector workers.

Recently, a 23 year-old Tamil speaking female worker committed suicide inside a boarding house on 17th of September after just 3 months of working at the zone. No motive has been identified although the matter has been already closed and declared unsuspicious.

SUM believes that it is important to understand how safe the zone is for these workers who leave their families behind to come and survive on their own. Furthermore, it is vital to understand the necessity of providing a solid support system to the workers to overcome both personal as well as work-related challenges.

Ashila will be speaking at a screening of Made in Sri Lanka happening on 4th January in Colombo, at which she will be discussing SUM’s progress and current projects. Get in contact to find out more details of the event!

This article was written by member of The Circle, Dushy Rabinath and Shyama Basnayaka. Dushy lives and works in Colombo and is passionate about the rights of women.

Photo credit: Dushy and her family in Sri Lanka

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Choose Love this Christmas

Photo credit: Ivers Parish Council

With only a week to go before Christmas you might be wondering where to buy last minute gifts. Well, now might be the perfect opportunity to think outside of the box…

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of what they are buying. Who made it? How was it was made, and where? These questions are becoming more common amongst those who are seeking to understand the chaos of climate change and forced labour; crises exacerbated by the fast fashion industry and social media which are creating a demand for transparency in companies. So, whilst we can become overwhelmed by the magnitude of these issues, there are small steps, even as individuals we can take to tackle them this Christmas.

Christmas is an expensive time of year. We spend our money on gifts for friends and family, but we don’t always need these gifts. Lucy Siegle for the Guardian (2018) referred to a recent survey by Method, an eco-cleaning company; ‘nearly a quarter of 16- to 24-year-olds said they would only be pictured in an item one to three times on social media before discarding it.’ Millions of garments are burned or end up in landfill which is having a dangerous effect on our environment. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, ‘one garbage truck of textiles [is] wasted every second’. Rather than buying gifts because it is Christmas, instead we could consider how we can spend more creatively.

Rather than engaging in the consumer culture we can re-direct it towards good causes; turning away from a fast fashion buy towards a pure gift of compassion for someone who truly needs it. What if that blanket you bought your niece went to a refugee instead? Choose Love is the first store to sell practical items for refugees. When you buy any one of the items in the store such as meal ingredients or a warm blanket, a similar item goes directly to someone in need of it rather than you taking it home. When it opened in 2017 “the shop became a beacon of compassion in the heart of central London”.

Choose Love

Choose Love is a part of the charity Help Refugees who ‘fill gaps and act where big NGOs and governments don’t.’ In December 2016 the Guardian reported that a young Afghan refugee was about to go into labour on ‘a remote and windswept hillside’ in Greece. Whilst the UN refugee agency and the government were not able to move her, Crystallynn Steed Brown, a volunteer for Help Refugees, offered that if they couldn’t move the family somewhere else, she would provide shelter in her flat in Thessaloniki.

Whilst Help Refugees provides emergency aid to refugees in countries such as France, Greece and Syria, it also seeks to provide long-term solutions. They ‘create safe spaces for women, provide sexual health clinics and medical units, and support nurseries, schools and youth centres.’ They aim to get people out of refugee camps and into employment and housing. They are helping to re-build the lives of refugees. “Help Refugees are now the biggest distributers of aid of any grassroots organisation in Europe”.

During this Christmas period refugees will be battling life-threatening conditions. How amazing to tell a family member or friend that their gift is helping to make a refugee’s winter a little bit easier. From Choose Love you can purchase an insulated babygrow to help parents keep their newborn babies warm, a ‘support for women’ pack, or even buy medical equipment.

On Monday 10th December a historic international deal was made. It is the first concerning the migration crisis. Karen McVeig, senior news reporter for the Guardian, reported that Marta Foresti, director of the human mobility initiative at the Overseas Development Institute, stated how the deal could help governments cooperate to ensure cross-border journeys are safe and legal. Although many countries are still to come on board, the deal suggests an urgency to act on this crisis. This Christmas we can do something too. We can buy blankets, food, coats, nappies and so much more. We can show refugees we love them and want to support them. We can show them that they are not alone.

If you live in London, you can pop by the store and see the array of items in person. Or if you are not local you can shop online.

SeeMe

In addition to Choose Love you might also like to buy a tangible gift for a friend or family member whilst still supporting global issues. SeeMe is a fair trade verified jewellery brand which might be of interest to you…

Every piece is beautifully crafted, handmade by women in Tunisia who have survived unimaginable violence. Through wearing one of these pieces you are providing the opportunity to open conversations about violence against women, as well as ethical and sustainable practices in the fashion industry. SeeMe enables women to learn the craft of jewellery making. But not only this, they use ancient Tunisian techniques, cultivating their country’s traditions. Furthermore, the women also get emotional support and SeeMe funds their children’s education. Please see an interview by Trusted Clothes with the founder of SeeMe, Caterina Occhio to find out more about the incredible affect this brand is having on women’s lives in Tunisia.

The jewellery is heart shaped which represents the #heartmovement. The heart is at the core of the collection, signifying a desperate need to restore love where a dark and heart-breaking experience has replaced it.

Many designers and artists are joining this movement. SeeMe has collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld for example. Lagerfeld designed a six-piece collection consisting of hand knitted collars and gloves. In 2016 Nicole Kidman wore SeeMe’s Orange Heart, created to signify the 20th anniversary of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.[1]

This year The Circle also collaborated with SeeMe, creating a stunning necklace, cuff and ring. The SeeMe heart is inserted into a circle, representing unity and women’s empowerment.

Fashion is often thought of as a form of expression, an art form. We can use it to express our concern about global issues. Just opening up one conversation about a necklace can spark more and more conversations which can lead to physical change.

Gift a Membership

The Circle membership is also a fantastic to gift anyone who believes in equal rights for women, our values – empowerment, passion, innovation, and respect and equality –  and wants to be actively involved in the global women’s movement. Women are members from all walks of life – lawyers, teachers, students, hairdressers, journalists and many other paths. Through using their own skills and experience they help The Circle to raise awareness about important issues and raise funds to continue amplifying the voices of disempowered women worldwide.

As a member your friend or family member will join the community and be invited to inspiring events during the year. Events involve educational webinars, networking events as well as the Annual Gathering. A six month membership is £30 and a full year is £60.

This Christmas is an opportunity to consider how we can direct our spending towards tackling global crises and do something practical to help.

Let’s do something a little differently this Christmas and Choose Love for refugees, survivors of violence as well as the millions of other women who are in dire need of our love and support. Join the global fight for equality and give a glimmer of hope to someone who needs it.

[1] Find out more about the trust fund here!

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist

This article was written by Georgia Bridgett who is a volunteer for The Circle. Georgia is a recent English graduate and is passionate about women’s rights and the underlying issues in the fast-fashion industry.


Violence Against Refugee Women and Girls

Photo credit: Oxfam Canada.

“Experience of violence can lead to long term physical, mental and emotional health problems; in the most extreme cases, violence against women can lead to death.”  – UN Stats

Every day women and girls face unimaginable circumstances as refugees. They endure an extremely unsafe journey where they are in fear of and at risk of violence only to reach a refugee camp where the fear and risk only continues.

According to the United Nations,  258 million people have crossed international borders to flee violence; almost half of these people are women and girls. During the journey women and girls are put in a number of dangerous situations including walking  along roads in darkness and putting their faith in strangers. This leaves them highly vulnerable to violence and even rape. The Migration Policy Institute has reported that many women, in fear of being raped, ‘take birth control to avoid becoming pregnant.’ Out of those who are victims of violence, ‘only a fraction seek help.’[1]. Most of those who do, appeal to family and friends and ‘only a small proportion of women who sought help did so by appealing to the police.’[2]

The inhumane actions women experience appear to often remain in darkness as so many women feeling unable to share their pain and suffering. This suffering suggests that the distress and trauma of this horrific experience will only continue to fester. Women and girls are seeking a new life only to experience further pain forced upon them. The fear that they will experience gender-based violence is dominating their lives and limited choices. Woman have reportedly starved themselves so that they do not have to use the same bathrooms as men and one women was reportedly abused for asking for extra food for her children. Women and girls are being prayed on as a result of their vulnerable position. This should not be the case.

Women who have escaped their home country due to their sexual orientation are more at risk of violence.

According to Monica Costa Riba for Amnesty International, simple tasks such as showering or going to the toilet in Greek refugee camps ‘become dangerous missions’ which is partly due to a lack of toilets and showers in women-only areas. Women like Simone, a 20-year old lesbian woman who was beaten by her family because of her sexuality felt at risk of rape. Furthermore, according to the UN, women and girls are exposed to the risk of sexual harassment when collecting firewood for the daily chores such as cooking – tasks essential to survival. It has also been reported that some women  ‘engage in survival sex’ to support their daughters.[3]

We need to provide more support and safe spaces for women and girls at refugee camps to allow them to speak about their experiences.

In Dadaab, Kenya there is a project where refugee community workers are helping women and girls to get the help and support they need after traumatic experiences of violence and abuse. Please visit the International Rescue Committee’s record of a diary account written by an amazing young woman helping traumatised women at the Dadaab refugee camp to rebuild their lives whilst also bravely putting her own life at risk to do so. Miriam (name changed to protect her identity) meets with women in private to understand their situations and ask if they require services such as a medical exam if they have been sexually abused. This project highlights the dire situation refugee women and girls are facing every moment and the urgency needed to improve access to things like education which will help to break the cycle of abuse.

Many women refugees who have grown up without an education are more likely to face gender-based violence.

Indeed, the UN Refugee Agency has stated that a lack of education means women and girls are unable to protect themselves against abuse and improve their communities. The UNHCR states that, globally, primary schools enrol less than eight refugee girls per ten refugee boys. In secondary school there are less than seven refugee girls per ten refugee boys. Consequently, without an education the cycle of abuse continues. An education enables women to have the confidence to speak up for their rights and freedoms. Seeing women become doctors, teachers, artists, and lawyers for example allows girls to see that they can also be leaders in their communities. This will encourage young girls to see their potential and that their gender should never restrict them from reaching it. This year the UNHCR published a report entitled “Her Turn” which was a call to action for making refugee girls’ education a priority. This campaign is urging for more female teachers to inspire and teach girls and boys so that they can see that women are also leaders. Through putting reports like these into action and raising awareness of this crisis we can truly make a difference for future generations of women and girl refugees; until one day equal access to education will become a reality. No person should live in fear of violence.

Although the 16 Days of Activism and our Chai Day initiative have come to an end, we must continually demand better for women and girls across the globe, encourage increasing awareness of the desperate situation that refugee women and girls are forced into, and take action.

1. UN Stats, Pg.159

2. UN Stats, Pg.159

3. UN Stats, Pg.158

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist

This article was written by Georgia Bridgett who is a volunteer for The Circle. Georgia is a recent English graduate and is passionate about women’s rights and the underlying issues in the fast-fashion industry.


The Circle calls for the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety to remain

 

The horrific tragedy in 2013 at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and the needless death of 1.134 brought to the world’s attention the dangerous and oppressive working conditions that millions of women working in the fast fashion industry face every day.

Out of that awfulness some progress has come in the form of the introduction of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety that over the last five years has inspected and worked with hundreds of factories to improve the working conditions for thousands of workers.

We are therefore disheartened to read that the Bangladesh Government now wish to shut down the Accord and instead use their own regulatory body, the Remediation Co-ordination Cell which is still in its infancy in terms of development.

The Circle is working to ensure that women in the ready-made garment earn a living wage.

Currently in countries who are the largest producers of fast fashion workers are not receiving a living wage at all. In fact, in Bangladesh workers receive a minimum wage that is only 9% of a living wage. Whilst we continue our work and campaign on this issue we stand firm on ensuring that other basic human rights such as a right to life are realised.

Sioned Jones, Executive Director of The Circle stated ‘We must not allow any step back in the pushing forward to ensure the protection of workers fundamental human rights. Whilst there is still so much to be done to ensure all work in a safe manner and earn a living wage we were beginning to see progress in Bangladesh in terms of safety. The work of the Accord and their transparent and professional approach to improving working conditions on many factories in Bangladesh must be continued for the foreseeable future.’

Jessica Simor QC, Member of The Circle and the lead author of its report ‘A Living Wage is a Fundamental Right’ added ‘The human rights of the millions of women working in the Ready-Made Garment Industry must be protected. Working in safe and legal conditions are imperative to this and continuing the work of the independent Accord alongside factory owners and governments is essential.’

To find out more about our Living Wage projects click here

#OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen


The Circle’s Feminist Advent Calendar

The Circle Feminist Advent Calendar

1 December – TED x LondonWomen (London)

Join TED for the day as they turn their attention to uncover how women and non-binary and genderqueer people around the world over are ‘Showing Up’, facing challenges head on, and no longer accepting the status quo.

2018 has been named the ‘Year of the Woman’: all over the world, diverse groups are rising up, breaking out, pushing boundaries, and joining forces to pioneer real change, in business, technology, art, science, and politics.

2 December – LFFF: Feminist animation films – Leeds Animation Workshop at 40! (London)

London Feminist Film Festival presents an afternoon of feminist animation films by the amazing Leeds Animation Workshop, to celebrate their 40th birthday. They’ll be showing a selection of their best feminist shorts from the last four decades, followed by a Q&A, and will also have an exhibition of their artwork and archive material.

3 December – An Evening with Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (London)

This UK-exclusive event, at The Southbank Centre, in collaboration with Penguin Live, presents Michelle Obama in conversation about her highly anticipated new memoir, ‘Becoming’, with acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Reflecting on her memoir, Michelle Obama invites the audience at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive, balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.

The moderator for the evening, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is the bestselling author of the novels ‘Purple Hibiscus’, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, which won the Orange Prize; and ‘Americanah’, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of the ten best books of 2013 by The New York Times. In 2012 she published ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ and her most recent book, ‘Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’, was published in March 2017.

4 December – We Need To Talk About Masculinity (London)

In discussions of contemporary feminism, it is no longer enough to talk about how society shapes the way women think and act. It is equally, if not more, important to consider how the gender binary impacts the way men behave; often to extreme measures. The construct of masculinity creates a suffocating environment for young boys to grow up in, that fosters insecurity, isolation, and even aggression. This evening we want to explore how film depicts what it means to ‘be a man’ today, and how this relates to the current climate of the film industry in Hollywood.

Join Kings College London for a screening of The Mask You Live In (Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2015) plus a post-screening discussion and Q&A with guest speakers in partnership with The Representation Project.

5 December – RSVP for our Chiswick Chai Day (Chiswick)

Our members Laura and Lydia are inviting other members to their Chai Day on 8 December in Chiswick, London. This Chai Day is unique opportunity to connect with other like-minded people and to have a much loved item of clothing or jewellery mended at the ‘Repair Café’! This innovative Chai Day event is ideal for members working in or interested in sustainable fashion as the day promises to be a delicious gathering around discussion for The Circles two main objectives; ending gender-based violence and advocating for a living wage for workers in the garment industry.

RSVP now to attend this weekend!

6 December – Reclaim the Night (Ipswitch)

On the 6th December 2018 women from across Suffolk will march to Reclaim the Night.

‘Just like many women before us we will raise our voices as one to demand an end to sexual violence … we will come together to highlight the unacceptable levels of violence against women within our communities and throughout the world. We will demand the right to use our streets in safety on this night and every night. And we will call on our politicians, local businesses and organisations to do their part to end violence against women.’

7 December – Women’s Strike Christmas Party /Decrim Now/ Fundraiser 4 UVW (London)

Join the Women’s Strike Assembly and the Socialist Feminist Campus Collective for the Women’s Strike Christmas party.

The New Year is near and for students the first term is almost over. And once again, these groups will be taking over your space with feminist festivity.

They will be starting off the night with a talk on decriminalisation of sex work and how sex workers are organising to fightback against exploitation. Then they will be gracing you with the most banging DJs, dance performances and drag.

All proceeds will go to supporting the mighty Ministry of Justice cleaners and security staff balloting for strike action and demanding the London Living Wage. Raise money by raising the roof at the best feminist party in town.

Together let’s rise like flowers through the cracks of the concrete city and join forces against exploitative work practices and injustice. It’s time for some collective joy.

8 December – Revolutionary Women Film Festival! (London)

Taking place in the SOAS buildings, this day is to include films and short clips on revolutionary women throughout history and the world including stories of Women in Mexican factories organise themselves to fight against exploitation and the destruction of their communities and ‘Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners’ in which Communist and revolutionary Angela Davis discusses the actions that led to her imprisonment and the worldwide political movement for her freedom.

9 December – Book your ticket to Women and Weapons (London)

For over a century women activists have played a leading role in seeking universal disarmament and arms control and in initiating peace projects – from the 1915 Women’s Peace Congress in The Hague through to the negotiations for the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty in 2017. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has continuously lobbied for ‘total and universal disarmament’ and for nineteen years women protested at Greenham Common against the placing of cruise missiles in the UK. Despite these and many other efforts it is argued that rather than promoting peace, contemporary international law sustains militarism and legitimates the use of force. In addition new technologies are constantly used to increase the global weapons arsenal.

Join London School of Economic’s Centre for Women, Peace and Security for a thought-provoking debate with some of the subjects leading minds.

10 December – Stories of Women: Feminist Life Drawing (London)

At this Stories of Women event, held at The Feminist Library, we are women drawing women; drawing each other – there is the chance to try life modelling yourself, or you may come to draw and/or listen or join in the conversation. There will be themed discussion about the body politics of life modelling and related matters, as well as plenty of time for questions you may bring. There is guidance for new models – no experience necessary, and some drawing materials are provided – again no experience necessary.

Life modelling and drawing are a really good way to address body image issues, as well as gaining confidence and broadening our experience by stepping out of our comfort zones. Teenage girls welcome.

11 December – Leadership for Women (Birmingham)

The Sister Sister Network is proud to be hosting their very first Birmingham event. e They are inviting their members to this educative and impactful session with highly skilled leaders who are keen to bridge the gap between leadership and aspiring leaders. Tickets are free but spaces are limited.

Leadership for Women set out in 2018 to reach women in multiple global cities with a revised approach to leadership development and training. Their approach is simple but powerful – a blend of education and inspiration to support leadership development, inspire action and help women step up across communities.

The results have been powerful. With more women crediting their increased leadership awareness and performance to the Leadership for Women Series.

They wish to offer women the skills, tools and essential understanding to support effective leadership development and the opportunity to network and share ideas with female leaders in the community.

12 December – Economic Abuse, Austerity and the Impact on Women (London)

This seminar creates space to learn about economic abuse and the particular implications of the government’s austerity agenda.

Government recently recognised economic abuse as one of many forms of violence against women and girls. Economic abuse encompasses a range of mechanisms for violence, exploitation and impoverishment. However, despite gaining increasing public attention, the power of abusive men in relationships has been exacerbated by a swathe of welfare benefit reforms justified as part of the government’s austerity measures, the latest of which is Universal Credit. The speakers will shed light on their research into these experiences and make recommendations for change.

13 December – Women in Sports Journalism (Cardiff)

2018 has been a watershed year for women in many ways, not least in increasingly prominent roles covering sports on our screens, over the airways, online and in print.
NUJ Training Wales is delighted to be working with Cardiff Metropolitan University and Welsh equalities charity Chwarae Teg to bring together some of the leading female voices from the Welsh sports media and beyond for this important half-day conference.
Carolyn Hitt writer and columnist for the Western Mail and BBC Cymru Wales’ Dot Davies will chair our industry expert panels on print/online journalism and broadcast journalism will include Anna Kessel MBE, co-founder of Women in Football and journalist at The Guardian, Beth Fisher, Freelance Broadcast Journalist with BBC Sport Wales, Catrin Pascoe, Editor of The Western Mail, and Katie Sands, Welsh Journalist of the Year 2018.
There will also be a special panel of female sports journalism students who will share their motivations, their career plans and their hopes for the future.
The event will examine issues including the representation of women’s sport, the challenges faced by women working across the sports media industry and changing attitudes of commissioners and audiences alike.

14 December – Unveiling of Emmeline Pankhurst statue (Manchester)

The eagerly-awaited bronze sculpture of Emmeline Pankhurst is set to be unveiled in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square today. Designed by sculptor Hazel Reeves, the statue will show Pankhurst standing on a chair as if addressing a crowd, with one arm outstretched; she will face towards the Free Trade Hall, a venue for radical suffragette activism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

15 December – Buy a piece from The Circle X SeeMe Jewellery Collection

Adorn yourself or a loved one with an elegant and unique piece of jewellery from the SeeMe X The Circle collection. See Me and The Circle have launched a beautiful and ethically-made jewellery collection to celebrate ten years of Women Empowering Women. SeeMe employs women, often single mothers, who have suffered violence and were ostracised from their communities in Tunisia. Through training SeeMe employees learn the craft of jewellery making following ancient Tunisian techniques. Therefore, while fostering their country’s traditions, they also secure a workplace for themselves and a future for their families. The perfect Christmas present!

16 December – Read Lindsey Hilsum’s In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

When Marie Colvin was killed in an artillery attack in Homs, Syria, in 2012, at age fifty-six, the world lost a fearless and iconoclastic war correspondent who covered the most significant global calamities of her lifetime. In Extremis, written by her fellow reporter Lindsey Hilsum, is a thrilling investigation into Colvin’s epic life and tragic death based on exclusive access to her intimate diaries from age thirteen to her death, interviews with people from every corner of her life, and impeccable research.

17 December – Watch The Sex Trade

This feature documentary is a study of the sex trade, a reality that has expanded worldwide to become a true industry, both online and off, over the course of the past few decades. Part investigative report and part editorial, the film is a foray into a brutal world whose key players trivialize the impact of their actions by claiming that prostitution is simply a service like any other. But who’s really benefiting?

The Calgary Circle held a screening of this in November in support of The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta.

18 December – Watch the True Cost

Before you go out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, watch this.

This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. “The True Cost” is a ground-breaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, “The True Cost” is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.

19 December – Reading group for Women of Colour (Edinburgh)

Organised by the Glasgow Women’s Library are excited to be running a new reading group in Edinburgh for women of colour to come together and discuss literature by women writers of colour. The group is free to attend and will be discussing a number of authors such as Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay, Ruri Kaur and Sim Bajwa.

20 December – Read Lucy Siegle’s To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

In this impassioned book, Siegle analyses the global epidemic of unsustainable fashion, taking stock of our economic health and moral accountabilities to expose the pitfalls of fast fashion. Refocusing the debate squarely back on the importance of basic consumer rights, Siegle reveals the truth behind cut price, bulk fashion and the importance of your purchasing decisions, advocating the case for a new sustainable design era where we are assured of value for money: ethically, morally and in real terms.

Get it as a gift, or for yourself!

21 December – Make fundraising plans for next year

Set targets, think about what projects you want to support. Your activist New Year’s Resolution, if you will.

22 December – Watch City of Joy

How does one find joy amid unspeakable tragedy? Madeleine Gavin’s documentary City of Joy, about a community built around women who have survived horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gives us a glimpse at both an incredible injustice still occurring today, and how Congolese women are combating it with their own grassroots movement.

“Everything is about love at City of Joy,” Schuler Deschryver told the Guardian. She described how many of the women who first arrive at City of Joy associate being touched only with violence. “So when you hug her and tell her she’s beautiful, that you love her, that you will fight for her, suddenly she’s like: ‘Oh my God, I exist. I’m a human being.’ You see the joy that [the women] have and know what they’ve passed through. I think that’s one of the reasons I wake up every morning.”

Find it on Netflix now!

23 December – Gift a membership

Last minute Christmas gift? Gift a membership!!

We have added the option to Gift a Membership on our website! Whether the recipient is your mother, your daughter, an aunt, a colleague, a partner or friend; The Circle membership is the perfect gift for a woman who wants to become more actively involved in the global women’s movement, bring attention to important issues and amplifying the voices of vulnerable women. The perfect Christmas gift of empowerment this year!

24 December – Feminism is for everybody

Read Bell Hookes’ classic Feminism Is For Everybody.

‘Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.’ So begins Feminism is for Everybody, a short, accessible introduction to feminist theory by one of its most influential practitioners. Designed to be read by all genders, this book provides both a primer to the question ‘what is feminism?’ and an argument for the enduring importance of the feminist movement today.

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist