Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Mabel

We must support and empower each other, otherwise we will constantly be fighting against a system that is designed for us to fail

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Mabel is a documentary film maker who also co-founded The Vavengers, a charity that holds music and poetry nights, exhibitions and plays to raise money for the survivors of Female Genital Mutilation and the clinics and organisations that they run. In 2015 they launched the UK’s first ever anti-FGM billboards. They are now working to engage the creative community to raise awareness and funds, improve data collection and ultimately stop women and girls being cut.

Why did you decide to become a member?

I decided to become a member of The Circle because I don’t think we as Western women take enough time to consider the experience of women globally. Often, we inhabit our own bubble and assume that most women enjoy the privileges we have. The Circle is actively trying to tackle this by supporting grassroots projects globally. That is why I want to be a member.  

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?

The mantra Women Empowering Women is at the core of my belief system with regards to tackling gender-based violence. We must support and empower each other, otherwise we will constantly be fighting against a system that is designed for us to fail. It’s the women who have infiltrated this system that have the chance to empower those who have been stripped of their voices.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?

The Circle has given me a lot of insight into areas of inequality that I rather embarrassingly had not considered, for example, fast fashion.  Attending The Circle events has really opened my eyes to the problems around fast fashion. The events have been a source of both information and inspiration. I have also connected with many exceptional like-minded women at these events.

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Katie

Photo credit: Fluid4Sight. Katie with singer Gill Manly at their Chai Day event in November

Women have an amazing capacity to forge immensely nourishing, deep, powerful bonds with each other – and when we harness that it becomes a force for change.

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Katie Rose is a new member of The Circle who has already been involved in our Chai Day fundraising initiative. Katie is a musician who is a ‘daily witness the profound wellbeing benefits of singing in my work. Working with choirs has taught me that we can join our diverse voices together to create a beauty, peace and strength that can change the world’. She leads choirs in community settings including hospitals, hospices, carers centres and co-directs Sing for Water, an annual mass choral fundraiser for WaterAid at Totally Thames.

Why did you decide to become a member of The Circle?
I joined after hearing Annie’s inspiring speech at the Women’s Day March 2018

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?
Ultimately it means busting through the patriarchal conditioning that oppresses and divides women.  Women have an amazing capacity to forge immensely nourishing, deep, powerful bonds with each other – and when we harness that it becomes a force for change.  I am continually uplifted, inspired and moved by my exchanges, discussions, friendships and collaborations with women.  Cherishing these individual bonds and widening them out to include and collaborate with other women is what we do naturally, when we have space to flourish – so the image of the ever-widening circle is so resonant and for me represents how we can build a non-hierarchical, mutually supportive movement.  We can each bring whatever platform, voice, influence, gifts, talents or resources we have available to support the cause of women worldwide – even just a tiny drop of rain can create a ripple in the ocean.  I want to help smash the glass ceilings of my generation to create freedom for the girls and women of the future.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?
It is that sense of not being alone, of being connected to a wider movement. I was brought up by a feminist and will remain a feminist until women no longer face oppression.  It is so good to be amongst strong, talented, inspiring women who have their own understanding of what being a feminist means and to stand in solidarity, honouring our unique perspectives and the diversity of the needs and issues facing women around the world.

Can you tell us about what project is important to you and your circle, and why?
I’m quite new to The Circle so am still finding out about all the projects and circles. As a singer, I am committed to creating arts events that contribute to raising funds and awareness with leading female artists in my community –  we hosted a Chai Day in November and hope to run a Women’s Day event in March.

Find out more about Katie’s work here!

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Jo

Member of The Circle, Jo Nevin. 

“I have always been aware that we need to think about intersectionality when we discuss the issues that women face, but The Circle has really challenged me to have that conversation with other people and, perhaps most importantly, challenged me to have that conversation with myself”

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Jodie Nevin is a member of The Lawyer’s Circle, that are currently working on a strategy to allow those within The Circle to be able to undertake more pro bono work. Jodie describes herself as ‘incredibly privileged’ to be a lawyer as she is able to provide free legal advice and representation which is often the only means of obtaining access to justice for those who are unable to pay and are not eligible for public funding. She states that The Lawyers Circle believes that access to legal advice should not be the privilege of the most advantaged in society, and that ‘we are excited to utilise our collective knowledge to provide even more free legal advice to disempowered women and girls across the globe.’

Why did you decide to become a member of The Circle?

I’ve always enjoyed being an active member of groups that aim to promote – and protect – the rights of women, but I felt as though I wanted to join a group that had a more global outlook. I loved the idea that you have this incredible force of women in The Circle, but to make it work you have pockets of passionate women in the smaller Circles who are given the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals to create something effective and meaningful.

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?

It’s interesting because sometimes you look back at moments in your life and you are able to identify experiences that have shaped who you are as a person. I have absolutely no doubt that the reason I feel so passionate about #WomenEmpoweringWomen is because I was lucky enough to have an absolute powerhouse of a friend at an early age – a friend who supported me, acted as my biggest cheerleader and empowered me to be the person I am today. Without knowing it, we had created our own circle of sisterhood, and that circle protected us from whatever the world was throwing at us. She empowers me, and I empower her – and because of that, we are able to empower others.

For me, #WomenEmpoweringWomen means striving to ensure that every woman experiences that incredible power of sisterhood.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?

It has encouraged me to think about feminism globally. I have always been aware that we need to think about intersectionality when we discuss the issues that women face, but The Circle has really challenged me to have that conversation with other people and, perhaps most importantly, challenged me to have that conversation with myself.

To check out The Lawyers Circle’s current projects on the Living Wage and Maternal Health rights click here!

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Feminist Calendar: January and February 2019

Photo credit: Slave to Fashion, Safia Minney.

4th January – Film Screening of Made in Sri Lanka (Colombo)

Member of The Circle, Dushy, is holding a film screening of Made in Sri Lanka in Colombo. Join her for an educational and eye-opening look into the garment industry.

The garment industry in Sri Lanka employs an estimated 350,000 workers. 82% of these workers are women and most of them make less than a living wage.

Made in Sri Lanka follows a group of fashion design students travel to Sri Lanka and come face to face with the women who make our clothes.

Guests will also hear from Ashila Dandeniya, who, after leaving the garment sector, has been campaigning for a living wage in Sri Lanka as part of the Stand Up Movement.

12th January – LSFF 2019: Unvictiming: Women Reframe Sexual Violence (London)

Recently, our cultural consciousness has become suffused with stories of sexual violence – women’s stories that span decades. Finally, we are listening and believing. Yet, largely careless and titillating depictions of rape and sexual violence continue to dominate — ELLE, Nocturnal Animals, Gone Girl… Unvictiming interrogates how we should (re)present sexual violence.
Bringing together largely overlooked short films on the subject, Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal has selected a five decades-spanning series of short films on this subject as seen by women filmmakers. From Mendieta to Campion, this selection of work will be presented in context with a post-screening discussion

19th January – Jumble Fever (Oxford)

Join us for Jumble Fever on Saturday 19th January from 11am-3pm on the Mezzanine at The Tap Social, Oxford. Come along for vintage clothes, a bric a brac rummage, books, records, jewellery, dancing and more!

There will also be lunch available from Waste2TasteOx! £2 entry or free with a bag of donations! See you there!

20th January – The Big Clothes Swap for Amnesty International (Exeter)

Clothes swapping is the perfect way to revamp your wardrobe without spending a penny and helping to reduce some of the £140 million worth of clothing going into landfill every year. This is a brilliant way to keep fashion sustainable and get rid of those unworn clothes and fill your wardrobe with pre-loved goodies!

The event is keen to highlight the human rights abuses and exploitation of the environment which go into the mass production of clothes by the fashion industry. What a great sustainable alternative to disposable fashion, particularly as it falls during the January sale.

22nd January – Stand Up. Be Heard. Young Women in Politics (London)

Women, Want to change the world?*
*Starting with your community

Fed up with the status quo?
What issues do you really care about?
How can you influence and support the people around you?

Come along to The Parliament Project’s next London workshop designed for young women to demystify the process of getting politically involved. Connect with other London based women as together we explore how women can best prepare for roles in politics, whether you’re involved in a political party or not.

By understanding the stages involved in getting elected; from choosing and joining a party, becoming an activist, through to selection and election, we hope to provide you with all the information you need to forge your own path in politics. You’ll hear from those who have chosen a political pathway for themselves, answer your questions, and direct you to the support you need to get started.

23rd January – A Private War: Fundraising Film Screening

Join us at the May Fair Hotel on 23rd January for the UK screening of A Private War.

This film starring Rosamund Pike follows the incredible life of renowned journalist Marie Colvin, for which Annie Lennox has written and recorded the theme Requiem for A Private War.  Oscar-nominated Heineman has created a devastating portrait of a complex, brilliant woman. In every scene, Pike fiercely inhabits Colvin  who sacrificed her own safety and happiness to bear witness to the very human cost of armed conflict: ‘the people who have no voice’.

Annie Lennox has written and recorded the Golden Globe nominated song ‘Requiem for A Private War’ especially for the film.

The screening will be followed by a drinks reception, a Q&A with Rosamund Pike and Lindsey Hilsum, and the opportunity to purchase Lindsey’s new book ‘In Extremis’.

All proceeds will go towards the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network.

24th January – Decolonising Contraception (London)

Decolonising Contraption Presents: Male contraception – patriarchy, the pill and the importance of male participation.

Following the success of the ‘Decolonising Contraception’ Event in Black History Month, we have decided to start a series around the topic!

The first of our four part series is surrounding the role that men play in the movement.

Panellists will be announced shortly!

DecolonisingContraception or Decolonise Contraception is a movement that aims to promote discussion related to the ways in which some sexual and reproductive health (SRH) practices have developed from unethical medical research, often on previously colonised populations. This movement intends to provide spaces to discuss how these issues still affect our practice today. Decolonizing Contraception aims to understand the colonial history of contraception, discuss modern contraceptive methods, and start new conversations about reproductive justice. We aim to empower those that seek contraception and other sexual health services to strive for reproductive justice, even if that means having difficult and awkward conversations.

26th January – Psychoanalysis and Feminism: Beauvoir, Irigaray, Kristeva, Butler (London)

There has always been a wing of feminism that looks to psychoanalysis for an elucidation of the problem of the difference between the sexes and of the problem of sexuality generally. While, at the same time, there has always been an opposing wing that roundly criticizes the theories that have been forthcoming – from male analysts such as Freud and Lacan – as ‘repressive’ towards women and deeply patriarchal. This situation has been modified, but not resolved, by the powerful intellectual contribution of female analysts such as Klein and Kristeva.

This day will be split into three sessions, each designed to provide an insight into the intersection between psychoanalysis and feminist thought.

26th January – Pass the Mic: Muslim Women Making Their Voices Heard (Glasgow)

Too often in media, on stage and online the experiences of Muslim women are absent, rarely do we see or hear Muslim women leading debate; whether that is a discussion on their lived experiences of racism, Islamophobia or sexism, or an area of their expertise; law, business, politics, education, health, to name but a few.

This workshop is to support Muslim women to be leading voices by providing training on dealing with media and public speaking. The half day free training will be delivered by Talat Yaqoob and will be interactive and give women confidence and skills in sharing their views and telling their stories.

6th February – Feminist Futures for Turbulent Times: The legacies of Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin (London)

The turbulent future that democratic elections anticipate all over the world seems rather bleak. The extreme right is capitalizing on the fear of permanently unstable conditions by making the other, the most vulnerable of us, responsible. Meanwhile, feminism and its intersections open the doors to alternative futures of dialogue with and respect for us all.

Celebrating the legacies of feminist science fiction writers Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin, thinkers from different disciplines will speak about these writers’ influence on their work in current or previous turbulent times.

6th February – The Circle presents Global Feminism: The Fashion Industry (London)

Waterstones Gower Street and The Circle invite you to attend a new series of book talks inspired by The Circle Founder Annie Lennox’s campaign to promote Global Feminism, encouraging everyone to further understand the inequality around the world for the most disempowered and marginalised women and girls.

The first session will look at the need to protect and ensure the rights of women in the Fashion Industry. In conversation are Safia Minney and Tansy Hoskins, two exceptional women and authors who, through their work, are shining a light on the impact of the fast fashion industry and the need to end modern day slavery for the millions of women working in it.

Tickets are £10 / £8 (students and The Circle members) and include a glass of wine or soft drink

6th February – The Vavengers on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM (London)

Join The Vavengers and The Royal College of Midwives for lunch and performances to mark this day.

This event aims to inspire a sense collaboration and of all of us working together, not only in supporting policies and initiatives in the UK, but supporting & cheering on grassroots activists/organizations in countries where FGM is practiced. Supported by The Dahlia Project, Forward, Midaye and Orchid Project.

7th February – Fast Forward Feminism (London)

Fast- Forward feminism; Resist, Reimagine, Rebuild is a two day student- led festival, that encourages critique and speculation of a discriminatory education system that does not represent us!

Bringing together artists, academics and grassroots activist, we will create a space that facilitates collective thinking, discussion and direct action to resist the current ‘neo-colonial white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.’ [bell hooks]

12th February – Screening of City of Joy (Los Angeles)

City of Joy, directed by first-time director Madeleine Gavin, follows the first class of women at a revolutionary leadership center in eastern Congo called City of Joy, from which the film derives its title, and weaves their journey as burgeoning leaders with that of the center’s founders (a devout Congolese doctor Dr. Denis Mukwege (2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner), women’s rights activist Christine Schuler-Deschryver (Director of City of Joy and V-Day Congo) and radical feminist Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues and Founder of V-Day/One Billion Rising) – three individuals who imagined a place where women who have suffered horrific rape and abuse can heal and become powerful voices of change for their country.

A story about the profound resilience of the human spirit, CITY OF JOY witnesses Congolese women’s fierce will to reclaim hope, even when so much of what was meaningful to them has been stripped away.

13th February – Screening of City of Joy (Oakland)

This screening will also be happening the following night in Oakland. In Oakland, immediately following the screening, audience members will be invited to RISE and participate in the One Billion Rising “Break the Chain” dance, as well as a Q&A with City of Joy Co-Founders Christine and Eve and She The People Founder Aimee Allison. Reflecting Bay Area Rising’s intersection of art, spirituality, and activism, the event will feature local dance, and music, including a drum procession led by Afia Walking Tree and performances by the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company.This film is certainly not to be missed!

13th February – An Evening with Stacey Dooley (London)

Stacey Dooley has firmly established herself as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters through her hugely popular investigative series, covering a wide-range of topics from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria.

At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience.

This February, join Stacey as she celebrates the paperback publication of her bestselling debut. In this rare live appearance, Stacey talks about her remarkable career so far, and explores the themes of her book, discussing everything from gender equality, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, weaving these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.

Unfortunately, this event has now sold out, however, you may still be able to find tickets online.


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


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