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


Chai Day with a Twist!

 

One of our members, Laura Fontana, is hosting a Chai Day on 8th December. This innovative event will tie together two of The Circle’s key foci; ending violence against women and working towards the Living Wage. Laura is very interested in the issues surrounding fast fashion and the absence of a Living Wage and the resulting discriminations and violences against the mainly female workforce throughout the fashion supply chain and wanted to tie in her interests with our fundraising event, Chai Day.

Laura, and another member of The Circle, Lydia will be hosting their Chai Day in Chiswick and as part of their event there will be a repair café for guests to take their much-loved items in need of some TLC. Alongside the traditional tea and cake and repair café, Alicia Grunert will be speaking on the Living Wage for garment workers.

Laura said she wanted to incorporate this aspect into Chai Day because she wanted to “give our guests a better understanding of what the idea of a Living wage entails, why it is so crucial, especially in the fashion industry, what difference it could make in the life of female garment workers and how it could help solve some of the issues and discriminations found in the fashion supply chain. Our hope is that this gathering will encourage them to be curious and learn more about the issues of the fashion industry, to ask questions and do something to change it, starting with their own wardrobe and purchasing habits.”

Both our members want you to join them at their event because it’s an “opportunity to get involved in the work the Circle does and the perfect occasion to start important conversations in a safe and welcoming environment, which can help people to be more receptive and engaged with the subject. The context of Chai Day offers the perfect environment to get everyone together around a cup of tea and sensibilise people to these important and complex issues.”

If you would like to get involved in Laura and Lydia’s Chai Day then get in touch for more details. It promises to be an amazing day to both support the victims of gender-based violence and an opportunity to learn more about some pressing issues.

 

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


The Asian Circle Chai Day in the New Asian Post

Photo Credit: The Asian Circle Chai Day and 5th Anniversary

“The Asian Circle celebrated its fifth birthday with a ‘Chai Day’ at The Lalit Hotel in Central London on Sunday 18th November 2018. The Asian Circle ‘Chai Day’, hosted by narrative story teller Seema Anand, also saw Great British Bake Off (GBBO) star Rav Bansal, bake a spectacular cake for the occasion which was served with masala chai and Indian savoury dishes. Asian Circle founder Santosh Bhanot provided an update on their fight for gender equality with their project in rural communities in east India. In partnership with Oxfam India, The Asian Circle is setting up Women’s Support Centres which provide access to counselling and legal aid to survivors of gender-based violence.”

Read the full article here!

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Women Empowering Women: Our Chai Day Speakers

The Circle Healthcare Networking Event.

The Circle are having our very own Chai Day and we’re very excited. As well as being an opportunity to network and raise funds for victims of gender-based violence, it will also be an opportunity to learn more about issues that are close to The Circle’s heart.

The Circle’s Executive Director will be talking about the importance of Chai Day and the vital work being done by the grass-root projects funded by this initiative. Sioned will be joined by two guest speakers on the night.

The first is member of The Circle, International Advocate and author Sharon Benning-Prince.

Sharon Benning-Prince is a former corporate/private equity lawyer who now additionally works on supply chains and modern slavery legal matters by assisting corporates with their supply chains and transparency. Additionally, she sits as a trustee for the Medaille Trust, and is an international advocate for the International Justice Mission, both of which are anti-slavery and trafficking charities. She is passionate about the empowerment of and raising awareness for voiceless women and children and has written her first book on modern slavery with the former CEO of the Medaille Trust, Mike Emberson, which will be released in early December 2018.

She explains her decision to focus on the legal rights of women and girls who have been trafficked claiming that:

‘I have always felt strongly about women’s rights and female empowerment but it was when I first attended a women’s event on trafficking in the DRC and then heard Mike Emberson, the former CEO of the Medaille and my co-author of our modern slavery text book that made me realise the huge numbers of female adults and children that are trafficked. The numbers are astounding. In this day and age, one in which my eleven-year old daughter has no concept of restriction due to her gender, it is an anathema to me that large numbers of women and girls are suffering.’

When we spoke to Sharon about what Chai Day meant to her, she said ‘it is a day where like-minded members can share their mutual desire for change and empowerment of women. It is also provide a basis of bringing in new friends who can help in the common cause of giving a voice to those without.’ We are so excited to hear her speak on the day and learn more about her work fighting for women’s rights.

Credit: Act Alberta. Act Alberta is a human trafficking project supported by The Circle. 

Our second speaker is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) activist, Hoda Ali.

Hoda Ali is a Survivor of Female Genital Mutilation. At age seven she was cut in Somalia and by age eleven, Hoda experienced her first of many acute hospitalisations due to complications from FGM; infected menses had caused pelvic inflammatory disease. Hoda had been unable to menstruate as a result of the small hole left after FGM.

After many surgical procedures in Somalia, Djibouti and Italy, Hoda first started menstruating age 17. However, the resulting medical complications from FGM continue to impact on Hoda’s life: infections, adhesions, subfertility, IVF, and miscarriage. Finally, she received the medical advice that IVF could no longer be pursued due to these complications.

Hoda has worked as a nurse as specialist in sexual health, in HIV clinics and as an FGM trainer for health professionals.

“We need to stop one generation from passing the practice on to the next, we all have duty of care to make sure we protect vulnerable girls/women from the violent practice. FGM is child abuse and should be treated as such rather than avoided because of cultural sensitivities.”

She has dedicated her professional life to raising awareness and campaigning for the prevention of FGM, focused on ensuring girls are treated with dignity and compassion when they encounter health care professionals in the NHS. In addition, she works as a Trustee for the charity 28TooMany whose primary focus is on research and enabling local initiatives to end FGM in the 28 African countries where it is practiced, and across the diaspora.

She co-founded The Vavengers, who campaigned for the UK’s first billboard campaign against FGM, has appeared in a BAFTA nominated FGM documentary, spoken at national conferences, news channels, and parliament; the list could go on. She is a truly inspirational woman who voices the pain, comforts the victims and campaigns to protect the girls. She trusts in life and a future and gives hope to FGM survivors.
We asked her to share her thoughts on Chai Day and any advice to those who have been generous enough to host one.

She points out that:‘in most societies, women have limited space to meet, and public spaces are often used by man. If women and girls are given the opportunity to shine and empower we can change the world. Chai day is very important because it provides safer space for women and girls to feel safe to talk, to speak up and help others; besides, who doesn’t like chai tea … be counted, stand up and speak up…you are the voice for the voiceless. By hosting your own Chai day, you are providing a safe space for discussion, for sharing stories, for empowering every women and girls who took part will be empowering the rest of their community. Together we can all end violence against women and girls; cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable and FGM is unacceptable.’

Credit: One of Hoda Ali’s many activism projects.

There are still a few spaces at this event on Wednesday 28th November, so if you would like to hear these incredible women speak and meet fellow members of The Circle then RSVP as soon as possible!

We look forward to seeing you!

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


The Asian Circle’s 5th Anniversary

Congratulations to The Asian Circle for turning five!

The Asian Circle are celebrating their 5th anniversary, an achievement that shows their devotion and dedication to fighting against the inequality of women and girls. Founded by Santosh Bhanot in 2013, The Asian Circle have become an established group of women who tirelessly fundraise for the projects close to their hearts.

Santosh describes The Asian Circle as “a passionate community of diverse women who want to support women and girls that haven’t been given the same opportunities in life in South Asia”.

 

Their 5th Anniversary celebration commemorates their efforts over the years which have been particularly impactful in rural areas of India. Violence against women is the most common form of human rights violation in India. It is such a deeply ingrained, socially accepted “right” for men to beat their wives, that women are trapped in a life of violence. Shame, stigma, and a lack of support from the police and the legal system prevent many women from reporting domestic violence and seeking help.

The Asian Circle have been supporting this project since the beginning and their dedication has helped it make massive strides. In Chhattisgarh, there has been a state-level consultation on the State Gender Equality Policy, a policy that had not been revisited in more than a decade. Women from across the state took part, reflecting their concerns and issues with the policy gaps. In Odisha, Gender Times sessions were organised at colleges, which increased engagement of adolescents and youth groups with gender issues.

“Our project in Chhattisgarh has been extremely successful with the programme recently receiving a State Government Award, ‘Nari Shakti Samman’ in recognition of outstanding improvement of the conditions of women at the margins of society. This Award will have a significantly positive impact on women in this State. International funders have stepped-up to adopt and expand our initial pilot programme with statewide deployment. By working in the community, the programme helps reduce violence, provides education, training and development of skills for jobs and helps reduce poverty.” – Santosh Bhanot

The Asian Circle also know how to add pizazz when bringing the harsh realities of their project to their well established and generous community. Their five-year celebration is no exception! With a high chai tea and drinks reception at the breath-taking LaLit Hotel, guests had the opportunity to support victims of domestic abuse with the chance to walk away with some amazing prizes through an online auction to mark this special occasion. However, the auction is not only available for guests and you can still support victims of gender-based violence by browsing the bespoke gift selection. The two featured items include a specically commissioned print and a signed copy of Eurythmics’ In the Garden. In the Garden was the debut studio album from Eurythmics originally released in 1981. This edition was produced as part of the one-off re-release, by Sony Records, in 2018, of all Eurythmics’ albums and is very much a collector’s item with both Annie and Dave having signed it. Annie donated the album to support The Asian Circle’s work and show her appreciation for all they do. All the funds will go to help victims of gender-based violence – a key issue that The Circle’s work focuses on and one that is at the centre of Chai Day. So she even surprised guests with a personal message via video.

The Asian Circle conceived Chai Day back in 2016 as an initiative to raise funds and awareness for the victims of gender-based violence. Since then it has grown from strength to strength. Their support for some of the most vulnerable women and girls and the impact that their work has had is truly a testament to The Circle’s manta: women empowering women. This innovative fundraising idea has become one of The Circle’s key foci and its development into a global campaign is a result of the success of The Asian Circle’s back in 2016.

In addition to Chai Day, looking back over the years, The Asian Circle have hosted a number of fundraising and networking events over the years in London and organised film screenings including The True Cost and Chalk ‘n’ Duster. Every summer, they have their popular Summer Party, which was attended by comedian Shazia Mirza in 2017. They created the concept of Chai Day and launched it in 2016. The Asian Circle and their supporters organised several Chai Days in 2017, including one at the British High Commission in New Delhi and the official The Asian Circle Chai Day at Montys, in Ealing, which was attended by The Great British Bake Off star Rav Bansal. All these events have raised huge contributions.

 

Thank you, to The Asian Circle, for all your incredible work and long may it continue! We can’t wait to see the pictures from their celebrations today.

You can show your support in celebration with us by participating in the auction and hosting a Chai Day!

#ChaiDay #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Widening the Circle of Support for Women

Photo credit: Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

In the run up to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, The Circle member Katie Rose has written this blog post about gender-based violence and some of the things we can all do to end it. Katie, as many others are, is organising a Chai Day to help us end violence against women and girls. Chai Day is about raising awareness and funds for victims of gender-based violence, about bringing together people to discuss an issue that affects women worldwide and inviting conversation to make real change. The Circle have been encourages members and non-members alike to get involved in this campaign and Katie’s thoughtful analysis of issue is a perfect example of women empowering women.

Widening the Circle of Safety and Support for Women by The Circle member, Katie Rose.

Like many of us, I have witnessed the recent media treatment of female sexual assault with despair. There are too often too many cases where a woman who has experienced trauma is not given recourse to justice. In many parts of the world, it is still the victim, not the perpetrator, who is discredited, excluded, shamed and faces further violence from society.

What can we do to change these shocking narratives and how can we support women to recover and communities to grow beyond patriarchal systems of gender-based violence and oppression? One action I have taken is to join Annie Lennox’s charity The Circle, which supports projects that do just that. I am also passionate about co-directing Sing for Water fundraisers for WaterAid projects which transform the lives of the women and girls around the world who spend 200 million hours daily walking for water.

As I feel it’s important to keep sharing messages of hope and solidarity, in this blog I want to identify some of the positive stages of recovery, so we can all help widen the circle of support for women.

1. Acknowledging Oppression

The first step is acknowledging the situation women face today. Just one of the many statistics included by Annie Lennox in her #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist campaign is that 1 in 3 women and girls are impacted by physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. These statistics are likely to be skewed, as many women are too frightened or in too much danger to speak out.

There are horrific acts of violence happening against women right now – which is why it’s important that those of us able to read this safely on laptops or phones take action in whatever small way we can. Women who have experienced victimisation are not just victims and statistics – they are strong, vibrant, creative human beings with the right to live peacefully and safely on the planet. When we stand up against oppression as individuals, we stand up for all women.

 2. Owning, Voicing and Witnessing

When a woman who has experienced gender-based trauma is able to own and tell her story, it is crucial that she is given safe, supportive witness. We need to be on the look out for signs that a woman is struggling, even before she feels able to disclose. We can encourage women to safely speak out and access confidential, professional support.

As a singer, I feel we need to empower and educate girls to feel they have a voice. A girl who knows the power of her voice can say “no”, can shout for help and can stand up to oppression. Disclosing is only one step in the road to recovery – the #MeToo movement has seen an outpouring of stories which now needs to be met with a commitment to support recovery and social justice.

3. Creating a Circle of Safety and Support

When a woman has experienced trauma, it is essential that she can access safe shelter and support for herself and her dependents. A circle of support can be formed – including her trusted friends and the health, employment, childcare or legal services she needs to access. In a caring, encouraging, empowering environment, she can recover and rebuild her life.

There are many inspiring case studies on The Circle website – including women like Bina who left an abusive marriage with the support of counselling and legal support from a woman’s shelter in India, domestic violence survivor Siyanda and her son who received help from the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre, Cape Town, and the many women who receive support at the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre.

Photo Credit: Half the Sky Movement

4. Justice

The inner process of recovery for women needs to be matched by an outer process of social justice. In a village featured in a film by The Asian Circle, after yet another woman was beaten by her drunken husband, women gathered together and smashed all the liquor pots. In the Samburu region of Kenya, where women are viewed as property, Rebecca Lolosoli spoke out against the rape of an estimated 1400 women in the 1980s and 90s by British soldiers. She was beaten by local men and received no support from her husband. She left her village and formed the Umoji village with 15 rape survivors, which now houses 50 women and 200 children seeking refuge from FGM, child marriage, rape and domestic violence. The women manage their own finances and land and their rape cases are finally being investigated legally.

These stories testify to the immense resilience of women in the face of brutal oppression and the power that becomes available when we join together to say #TimesUp.

5. Liberation

With support, solidarity and recourse to justice, a woman can liberate and reclaim herself from the shadow of violent oppression. She can rise up and recreate her life for herself and her loved ones.

As she does, the whole community can be transformed. Men can become allies in this process, such as the members of Uganda’s police force who after 24 women were brutally murdered, went on a walk carrying water pots on their heads and babies on their back to see what it was like ‘to walk in women’s shoes’ and to inspire other men to ‘see the benefits of equality’.

Just as everyone suffers in a world which brutalises women and girls, everyone gains when women are liberated from oppression and violence. We are all part of the change and we can all help widen the circle of safety and support for women.

Katie Rose – October 2018

Katie will be hosting a Chai Day in South London on 25th November
For more info please email info@therosewindow.org

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Chai Day Recipes

Chai Day Recipes!

If you want to hold your own Chai Day, or want to get involved in a friend’s or colleague’s, but need more inspiration for how to incorporate chai in your signature bakes then give some of these recipes a go!

We’d love to hear your own recipes so get in touch on our Facebook or Instagram to share your best bakes!

Masala Chai

Masala Chai is easy to make using simple, relatively common ingredients.

• 1 English breakfast teabag
• 6 green cardamom pods
• 6 cloves
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 12 peppercorns
• 500 ml freshly boiled water
• 100ml milk
• 2-3 tsp sugar

1. Snip open the teabag and place the contents in a saucepan.
2. Add the spices and the boiling water, and simmer for three to five minutes over a medium-high heat.
3. Strain through a fine tea strainer into a jug, then return to the pan.
4. Add the milk and sugar, stir over the heat for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

This tastes great, but you can also buy great Chai teabags in most large supermarkets.

Banana Chai Bread

• 225g plain flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 150g caster sugar
• 110g light cream cheese
• 2 medium eggs
• 170g mashed ripe bananas
• 4 tablespoons brewed chai tea (at room temperature)

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23x12cm (9x5in) loaf tin
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, cream cheese and eggs until light and fluffy. Mix mashed bananas and chai tea into cream cheese mixture. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth
4. Pour mixture into prepared tin, and bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes.
5. Cool on wire rack, removing from tin after 10 minutes

(Source – www.allrecipes.co.uk)

Chai Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
• 250g soft unsalted butter
• 250g caster sugar
• 4 eggs, room temperature
• 250 g self-raising flour
For the frosting
• 250g soft unsalted butter
• 500g icing sugar
For the chai flavouring
• 100 ml milk
• 2 assam or ceylon tea bags
• 5 cardamom pods, crushed
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp ground ginger

Instead of making the chai flavouring, cut corners by using two chai flavoured teabags which are available from most large supermarkets.

1. For the chai flavouring: in a saucepan, gently heat 100ml milk. Add the teabags with the cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, letting the spices infuse.
2. After 20 minutes, remove the teabags and strain the milk, leaving it to cool to room temperature.
3. For the cupcakes: preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Once this is fluffy, add 4 eggs one by one.
4. Add half of the spicy milk to the mixture and blend well. Add the flour and once this has all mixed up, spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 18 minutes. Once they are firm but springy to the touch, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
5. For the frosting: in a bowl, combine the butter with the icing sugar and once this has mixed well and become fluffy, add the remaining half of the spicy milk.
6. Blend for 3 minutes and then either spoon onto the cooled sponges or pipe with a nozzle and piping bag. Finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder.

Coconut Chai Traybake

This simple traybake is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, this moist coconut sponge is the perfect accompaniment to a cuppa!

• 100ml vegetable oil, plus a little for greasing
• 300ml coconut milk – if the cream has separated in the can, give it a good mix before measuring
• 4 large eggs
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 280g light brown soft sugar
• 250g self-raising flour
• 75g desiccated coconut
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ nutmeg, finely grated
• ¼ tsp ground cloves
• 10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed using a pestle and mortar
• 4 tbsp ginger syrup

For the icing:
• 3-4 tbsp coconut milk
• 140g icing sugar
• 2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped
• chopped pistachios and coconut flakes (optional)

1. Grease a 20 x 30cm baking tin with a little oil, and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Measure the coconut milk and oil into a jug. Crack in the eggs, add the vanilla and whisk with a fork to combine.
2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, coconut, spices and a pinch of salt. Squeeze any lumps of sugar through your fingers, shaking the bowl a few times so they come to the surface. Pour in the wet ingredients and use a large whisk to mix to a smooth batter. Pour into the tin, scraping every drop of the mixture out of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If there is any wet mixture clinging to it, bake for a further 5 mins, then check again. Leave to cool for 15 mins in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle over the ginger syrup.
4. To make the icing, mix the coconut milk with the icing sugar until smooth. Drizzle the icing over the cake in squiggles, then scatter with the chopped ginger, pistachios and coconut flakes, if using. Eat warm or cold. Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.

(Source – www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Chai Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Icing and Pomegranate Syrup

• 2 chai tea bags
• 300g unsalted butter, softened
• 2 cups (440g) caster sugar
• 6 eggs
• 2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/4 tsp ground ginger
• 1/4 tsp ground clove
For ginger cream-cheese icing
• 250g cream cheese, softened
• 150g unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
• 4 cups (600g) icing sugar, sifted
• 2 tsp ground ginger
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to serve

For pomegranate syrup
• 1 pomegranate, halved
• 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line two 22cm springform cake pans.
2. Place the tea bags in a jug with 1/2 cup (125ml) boiling water and set aside to cool. Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters for 5-6 minutes until thick and pale, then add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour and spices, and mix well to combine.
3. Remove and discard the tea bags and slowly add the cooled tea to the batter, beating constantly. Divide batter evenly between the pans, spreading to even the surface, then bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. For the icing, beat the cream cheese, butter, brown sugar and icing sugar using electric beaters for 6-8 minutes until smooth and voluminous. Add ginger and cinnamon, and beat to combine.
5. For the pomegranate syrup, place a pomegranate half, skin-side up, in a sieve over a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to bash the skin so the seeds fall into the sieve and the juice into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining pomegranate half. Reserve the seeds and place the juice in a saucepan with the sugar and 1/2 cup (125ml) water, then stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 minutes until reduced by half and a syrupy consistency. Add the reserved seeds to the syrup and set aside to cool.
6. Place one cake on a serving plate and spread with half the icing. Top with the other cake and spread the remaining icing over the top. Drizzle over syrup and dust with cinnamon just before serving.

(Source: www.delicious.com)

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Annie Lennox for Refinery29

Annie Lennox On Why We Should All Be Identifying As Global Feminists

“An activist is about being an impatient person, with a lot of patience,” Annie Lennox tells me over the phone. She sounds pleased at the end of the sentence, letting out a two syllable laugh – “ah ha” – because it’s such a good sentence. Of course it is, it’s Annie Lennox, widely regarded as one of the best songwriters of all time, winner of six Brit awards for Best Female Artist, four Grammys and an Oscar for Best Song.”

“When I can channel my distress into action, I feel better, I feel so inspired”, she tells me in relation to her humanitarian work, which is vast, earning her the Woman of Peace Award at the 2009 Nobel Peace Laureates summit and an OBE in 2011, a year after she became a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS. Annie cites a 2003 trip to South Africa – where she spent time with Nelson Mandela, performed in the launch concert for his HIV/AIDS foundation and visited families and orphanages devastated by AIDS – as the point of no return. That was the moment she leapt up. “It was a life changing experience,” she writes on The Circle’s website. “My encounters woke me up to a multitude of stark realities regarding the contrasting way of life between Western nations and the so called developing world.” The stark contrast between life for women in these countries and life in the privileged West still plagues her – “every day,” she says. “I do become despairing from time to time because I think, ‘This is too big, there’s nothing I can do’. But there is something I can do. And I’m doing it. I’m dedicating my time, my passion and my platform to whatever I can do to make a contribution to the global women’s movement. That’s what I can do as an individual.”

Read the full article here

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonImAGlobalFeminist


Annie at the Academy Women’s Initiative

Annie Lennox addresses the crowd at the Academy Women’s Initiative LA event in West Hollywood on October 30.

‘It was and still is, profoundly distressing to know that the world at large didn’t seem to be aware, or particularly care about the scale of the appalling tragedy that was taking place in terms of girls and women’s health … Women are, after all, half the world’

Watch the full video here

#OneReasonImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen