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


Feminist Calendar: November 2018

Image credit: Rowan Powell ft. painting by Zadie Xa

Stay out of the cold and go along to some of these amazing events throughout November!

3 November – Windrush Women: The Conflict of the Mother Country (London)

As part of the New Suns Feminist Literary Festival, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, gal-dem deputy editor, leads a panel discussion exploring the experiences and myths surrounding the Caribbean matriarch in the UK.

Many of the Windrush generation who came to Britain were promised to find a mythical land where the streets were paved with gold. When the Windrush docked on 22nd June 1948, its 498 Carribean passengers (plus stowaways) who had travelled arrived in the hope of finding better paid work and living prospects. Often it was the Carribean woman whose identity and experiences captured the experience of dislocation and struggle. In some instances, the history of their struggle has been erased and now in the aftermath of the Windrush scandal, second and third generation Carribean migrants want to change the narrative.

The panel discussion has been covered with gal-dem and features journalist Kemi Alemoru, lecturer Sharon Frazer-Carroll and make-up artist Kay Montano.

6 November – Revolting Prostitutes: Juno Mac and Molly Smith on the Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (Glasgow)

Do you have to think that prostitution is good to support sex worker rights? How do sex worker rights fit with feminist and anti-capitalist politics? Is criminalising clients progressive—and can the police deliver justice?

In conversation, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith discuss their new book Revolting Prostitutes, which brings a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement. The conversation will be chaired by Layla-Roxanne Hill.

10 November – The Vavengers Chai Day (London)

The Circle is proud to be teaming up with The Vavengers for this night of music and conversation to raise awareness about Chai Day, a campaign to eliminate gender-based violence. Short for ‘Vagina Avengers’, The Vavengers are a team of creatives based in London who organise events to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Join us for a night of entertainment and inspiring music from Before Breakfast, Cecillia Knapp and Quiet Man. It is the perfect opportunity to learn more about Chai Day and be inspired to host your own Chai Day on November 25th!
Proceeds from ticket sales will be going to support La Fraternite, a grass-roots charity that campaigns to end FGM by organising workshops for the Guinean Community in and around London. There will also be opportunities to give donations on the night that will all go towards The Circle’s Chai Day grass-roots projects based in South Africa, India and the UK!

15 November – The Sex Trade Screening (Calgary)

Join The Calgary Circle for a screening of The Sex Trade, by Canadian filmmaker Eve Lamont.

This feature documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the sex industry operating in Canada and investigates who benefits. A short question and answer period with representatives from The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta (ACT) and the RCMP will follow the film.

A reception, with wine and beer, will be held before the screening. Doors open at 6:30 pm and film starts at 7:00 pm.

Come out and join us as we learn more about this challenging and important issue facing so many women and girls and help us raise funds in support of ACT’s work helping victims of human trafficking.

18 November – The Asian Circle Anniversary Chai Day (London)

Come and join us to celebrate The Asian Circle’s 5th Anniversary, generously hosted by The LaLit Hotel London, where stunning Victorian grandeur meets Indian opulence.
Our VIPs and guests will meet just after midday at at a drinks reception on the heated terrace. This is followed by The Lalit’s famous exquisite High Chai in the Baluchi Great Hall with its breathtaking Hyderabadi blue chandeliers.
Hear about our successful project in rural communities in Chhattisgarh, India, to reduce domestic violence and empower women and girls. The award-winning project created in partnership with Oxfam India and local NGOs has been recently adopted for state wide deployment. All funds raised on the day will be donated to this project.
Come dressed for the occasion in your Maharani & Maharaja finery for High Chai.

17-18 November – WOW Festival Bradford (Bradford)

The Circle is proud to announce that we will be part of the third annual Women Of The World Festival in Bradford.

WOW Bradford promises to be a weekend of talks, discussions, music, activism, performance, mentoring and big ideas, and we’ll be hearing from women who are breaking the mold in science, entrepreneurship, the arts, sport, economics, health and business from Bradford, nationally and internationally. There are sessions on everything from personal lives though to global concerns, including race, body image, violence against women and girls, religion, the role of men in gender equality and even a special one-off set from Kate Tempest.

The Circle’s Relationship Manager, Peta Barrett, will be at our stall at the WOW Market Place all weekend sharing information about the important part we play in the global movement for gender equality. We hope to see you there!
If you are based in or around Braford and interested in becoming a member, or helping us to manage our stall, send your information through on our Contact Us page and we’ll be in touch!

24 November – Sisters Beyond the Workplace: Working-class Women & Political & Social Reform (Manchester)

Half day conference organised by the SSLH followed by AGM. This free event will include a number of academic speakers talking on a range of subjects to do with feminist activism, gender inequality and working women.

24-25 November – Wow Festival Cardiff (Cardiff)

The Circle is proud to announce that we will be part of the WOW – Women Of The World Festival in Cardiff, on 24 and 25 November.
The WOW Festival will include a range of workshops, talks, debates, performances and art open to the public. Some highlights from the WOW Festival Cardiff programme include: Gwenno Saunders, Charlotte Church, Michael Sheen, Sian Evans, Lula Mehbratu (The Digital Migrant),Sahar Al-Faifi, Sian James former MP, Gemma Price (Boxing Pretty), Anna Hursey, Shahien Taj OBE, Lucy Owen (BBC Wales) and Layfullstop among others.

As part of the festival, The Cwtch Café is hosting a Chai Day event with The Circle and Henna Foundation from 10:30 to 12:30 on Sunday 25 November.
Chai Day is about gathering together friends, family or colleagues and using that time to raise awareness about violence against women and to raise money to support survivors and work towards ending gender-based violence.
Join us at The Cwtch Café from 10:30 – 12:30 to hear from our Relationship Manager, Peta Barrett, who will be sharing information about our grass-roots projects supported by Chai Day. We are thrilled to be sharing this important platform with The Henna Foundation’s Executive Director, Shahien Taj, who will be sharing more about the services they provide to muslim families and encouraging safer, stronger communities through raising awareness of key issues they may face.

25 November – Reclaim the Night! (London)

In the climate of #MeToo, #YoTambien and #BalanceTonPorc, Reclaim the Night is as relevant as ever – if not more so. Violence against women continues to occur every minute of every day, but women everywhere are making a stand.
Join us for London Reclaim the Night! Close down central London for women, put your feet on the streets to shout a loud NO to rape and all forms of male violence against women.Join us and join millions across the globe who will be marking the annual United Nations Day to End Violence Against Women (25th November) with demonstrations and marches.

Reclaim the Night came to the UK 40 years ago, in 1977. One of the first marches took place in Leeds where women took to the streets to protest the police requesting women to stay at home after dark in response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders. Placards read “No curfew on women – curfew on men”. It is hard to believe we are still marching 40 years later, yet the recent outpouring of #MeToo on social media only makes it clear why this is important. The statistics speak for themselves: two women a week are killed by their male partner or ex-partner. One in three women experience sexual abuse of some kind in their lifetime. This is unacceptable. This march is a show of strength and a collective demand for freedom from sexual violence and harassment.

25 November – Circle Member Katie’s Chai Day (London)

Katie Rose is hosting a Chai Day which is open to all who want to raise awareness and funds to help end gender-based violence and support women and girls through The Circle’s Chai Day Projects.
Bring friends and cake to share – to suit your dietary requirements. People of all genders welcome!
The event will be collecting donations for The Circle (suggested donation £5) and sanitary products for local Period Poverty Charity We-STAP

25 November – Dead Women Walking – The March (Manchester and Devon)

Remembering the women killed by known men in the UK A peaceful creative ‘Murder March’ to remember and represent the women murdered in the UK by partners, ex-partners, family members i.e. domestic violence murders.

This #DeadWomenWalking walk is to raise awareness of the women behind the statistics of domestic violence murders. Raising awareness of domestic violence and fatal male violence against women to coincide with International day for the elimination of violence against women and the 16 days of action.
The walk will be a visual and respectful march of women wearing red ponchos – During the walk the names of all the women killed by known men in the last 12 months will be read out. This is an event for women – women representing women killed and women stewarding themselves. Men are welcome to donate if they’d like to support.

28 November – Our Chai Day in London (London)

The Circle members are invited to our Chai Day, where we will discuss gender-based violence and what we can do to help end it. With guest speakers and the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for some of our amazing projects, this is not to be missed. Taking place within the 16 Days of Action, our Chai Day is a way to get your friends or colleagues together over a cup of tea, to raise awareness about gender-based violence and raise funds to support survivors and help end violence against women and girls.

30 November – Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality Conference (London)

CTDC is delighted to announce its third annual conference titled Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality, and organised in partnership with Kohl: Journal for Bodily and Gender Research, and UCL taking place on November 30, 2018 at UCL.

The conference will bring in a number of practitioners, students, artists, and academics from Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia to discuss themes around decolonising discourses around gender and sexuality in academia and beyond, shedding light on feminist pedagogy, sexual liberation, reproductive justice and positionality. In addition to that, our speakers will also highlight the potential for arts-informed inquiry to decolonise methodology and will also demonstrate how imported forms of feminisms, particularly those relying on social media, are not the way forward for gender and sexual justice.

The conference will kick off with a keynote panel discussion by Kohl editors and CTDC directors, who will explore the importance of decolonising methodologies in research and practice and in relation to Global South knowledge production.

 

#WomenEmpoweringWomen


‘On International Day of the Girl, this is why we should all be global feminists’

 

“A few years ago, the word “feminist” seemed to make quite a few people feel uncomfortable. It carried a kind of stigma – a bad rap – and was often perceived as unmentionable and polarising.”

“Two years ago, I received a photograph from a fellow feminist advocate who had just walked past a London newsagent’s stand and noticed that every single women’s magazine had the previously unmentionable “f word” displayed on its front cover. Evidence, if we needed it, that awareness was rising and progress was moving towards the zeitgeist again.

The feminist movement is and has always been a broad church, with different interpretations, opinions and ideas. But today, thanks to #MeToo, Times Up and the women’s march movements, feminism has re-emerged from the closet and is gaining profile and popularity.

From my perspective, however, there is still work to do. Feminism needs to be understood and appreciated, not only in the west, but where women’s needs are greatest – in places and countries where women and girls are not even near the lowest rung of the human rights ladder….”

Go to the full article

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Who is a Refugee? 8 Things You Should Know about the Refugee Crisis

Image credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times.

“Imagine living in a refugee camp where you are too scared to go the toilet, or being subjected to sexual harassment on a daily basis in your host community because of your gender or identity. This is the terrifying reality for hundreds of thousands of women and girls and LGBTI refugees around the world, and the shameful inaction of wealthy governments is prolonging it.”

These are the words of Catherine Murphy, Acting Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme at Amnesty International. In the run up to Refugee Week—19-25 June—, at The Circle we will try to address some of the misconceptions surrounding the refugee crisis, in particular trying to put a spotlight on the challenges and dangers faced by women and girls when leaving their home countries.

1. Who is a refugee?

According to UNHCR, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country due to fear of violence or persecution. They most likely cannot return home because of war, or ethnic, tribal or religious violence or persecution. Refugee status entitles someone to legal protection and material assistance. States are required to protect refugees and not send them to countries where they risk violence or persecution.

2. Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone in the process of applying to be recognised as a refugee.

3. Is it easy to claim asylum?

The short answer is no.

Claiming asylum can be a complex process that can take many months. Asylum seekers have to prove to their potential host state that going back to their home country would put them at risk of persecution “for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. And even then, many applications aren’t successful—in 2015, 64% of initial asylum applications were refused in the UK.

Around 50% of asylum seekers are detained in Immigration Removal Centres while they await the decision on their refugee application.

4. Who is an economic migrant?

Someone who moves to another country driven by poor working or living conditions in their country of origin.

5. What is the refugee crisis?

In the past two years, Europe has experienced the largest movement of people since the Second World War. Around 1.3 million people claimed asylum in the EU in 2015 and a further 1.3 million in 2016, but the number of people who have been granted refugee status is much lower – approximately 292,000 in 2015 and 366,000 in 2016 (although the process of applying for asylum is long and those granted asylum may have applied in previous years).

Most asylum seekers have fled war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, but many others come from Kosovo, Albania, Pakistan and Eritrea.

6. Is the refugee crisis over? Why isn’t it in the media as much as it used to be?

It would indeed seem the refugee crisis is slipping out of mainstream consciousness. Although the number of refugees entering Europe peaked in 2015 (at 1.5 million), and the number of refugees arriving continues to decrease, over 70,000 people have entered Europe via the Mediterranean so far in 2017.

In addition to this, a number of interesting conclusions were drawn at a UNESCO conference on media and migration, which could help to explain the treatment of the crisis by the media. Firstly, journalists often misuse terms such as refugee and migrant. Some also fail to synthesise political rhetoric, leading to misleading and untrue stories, and there is failure to contextualise stories within the context of the refugee crisis.

According to Dr. Guita Hourani, Director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Centre at Notre Dame University, this comes down to a lack of training. Experts at the UNESCO conference agreed that newsrooms lack the means and support to be able to cover the crisis appropriately.

7. The situation in 2017

As of 30 May 2017, in the EU there have been:

• 124,000 applications for asylum
• 70,877 arrivals by Mediterranean sea (of which 11% are women; 16.5% are children)
• 1,729 dead and missing in the Mediterranean

8. Some of the issues that women migrants and refugees face

Most refugees worldwide are hosted by developing countries; nearly 500,000 people currently live in refugee camps across Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon—camps which can be highly dangerous for women. They often face sexual assault and violence when collecting firewood for cooking and when walking through poorly lit camps to use the toilet at night.

In addition to that, women do not have access to clinics they need in order to ensure their sexual health and their health during pregnancy. 15% of women fleeing conflict while pregnant are likely to face a life-threatening obstetric complication, with aid rarely to be found.

We’d like to hear about women-led projects helping refugees and of course stories from women refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. If you’d like to share your story with us, email us at hello@thecircle.ngo.