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


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


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


Our member Efe on #ChaiDay

 

Why did you decide to organise a Chai Day?

To help raise funds for victims of domestic violence, rape and sex trafficking. To join in and support them so they too can begin to heal and return to their world stronger.

What did organising a Chai Day make you learn about gender-based violence?

That there are different forms of gender-based violence and all of them need our attention. Because it is a major public health and human rights issues. I learned that young girls around the same age as my sister are been taking away from their mother’s arms and subjected to prostitution, been raped and abused physically and emotionally, and it needs to stop. I learned that if I can gather fierce and determined women in a room to support my cause, then we are one step closer to ending this for someone.

 

What are your top tips to organise a Chai Day?

Don’t do it alone. It is a ‘team’ event. So gather your friends, their friends, members of your family and their friends and host a Chai Day, because it will be so worth it when you include people in your world to support a great cause.

To find out how you can organise a Chai Day visit www.chaiday.org

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen


The Circle Committees Gathering

Photo: The Circle Committees Gathering in London, October 2018

 

We had a wonderful get together last Saturday 29 September 2018, with representatives from The Asian Circle, The Lawyers Circle, The Oxford Circle, The Italian Circle as well as our now forming London, Media and Healthcare and USA Circles! The Calgary Circle joined via the technology of the internet… I am SO proud of the work everyone has done, is doing, and is planning to accomplish in the future… Working on issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, a living wage for women working in the garment industry, supporting the most vulnerable refugee children and mentoring young female journalists working in conflict zones. We are covering a broad selection of challenges and establishing real traction!
To think that in the same week, Jessica Simor of The Lawyers Circle, along with our Executive Director Sioned Jones, went to The Hague to have dialogue that could actually change the law on what is considered to be a ‘living wage’ for women, is an outstanding Circle accomplishment! And our Asian Circle’s partner in India, Lok Astha, have just received a ‘Spirit of Humanity’  award in recognition of their work in creating a transformative model to eliminate domestic violence and empower women!
Photo: Susan Ferner, from The Calgary Circle, joined the meeting via video conference from Canada.

 

After only three and a half years of forming our NGO, we are beginning to demonstrate our real potential.
Please join me in amplifying the message as to who we are and what we are doing, by contributing to our #OneReasonWhyIamAGlobalFeminist campaign.
With gratitude and appreciation to every single one of our dear Circle members… and much love from Annie.
To become a member of The Circle, sign up here.

Processions: We have the vote. Now we want equality!

Photo: Peta Barrett at Processions, in London on 10 June 2018.

The Circle Relationship Manager Peta Barrett shares her thoughts on the Processions march that took place in four UK cities on 10 June 2018 to commemorate the Representation of the People Act centenary. Peta marched in the Processions in London along with members of The Circle and thousands of other women and girls.

Central London has never looked as beautiful as it did on Sunday 10 June 2018. The sun lit the greens, purples and whites of the suffragette colours worn by smiling women and girls of all backgrounds gathered to commemorate 100 years since the first women received the vote in the UK. I was thrilled that one of the first banners spotted read “Sisters are doing in for themselves”, lyrics from The Circle’s Founder Annie Lennox. I grabbed the opportunity for photo because it made me feel connected to all the members of The Circle gathered in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff, all of our members who could not be there in person and the women of The Circle connected to us by our projects near and far.

 

I looked around me at the costumes, the banners, the sheer positivity of the crowd and I felt the spirit of the suffragettes with us as we walked in memory of everything they have done for us and for the long road we still need to walk for gender equality. It was wonderful to be surrounded by women and girls of all generations, some of whom had travelled from all over the UK.

The morning after Processions a close friend asked me, “who received the right to vote in the UK one hundred years ago?”

To set the scene… Up until 1918 only men aged 21 or older who owned land had the right to vote in the UK. The suffragette movement lead to the introduction of the Representation of the People Act in 1918. This allowed women over the age of thirty who owned property, or whose husbands did, the right to vote. Not all women could vote. In fact, only 22% of women living in the UK at the time received the right to vote in 1918. It is also interesting and important to mention that the Representation of the People Act also further extended the right to vote to all men over the age of 21 regardless of their property ownership status.

It would be another ten years before the Representation of People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 was introduced into British politics, giving women equal electoral rights as men. What this tells us is that the suffragettes continued to fight together for equal rights. 22% representation was not good enough; the exclusion of any woman was unacceptable. The fight would continue until all women had the same right to vote as men. And finally, in 1928 all women aged 21 and older regardless of property ownership were given the right to vote. Sylvia Pankhurst is quoted in 1931 as saying ‘’as to the suffrage movement, it was a gathering of people of all sorts, united by one simple idea, which necessitated the surrender of no prejudice of race or class”. So, if you were at the Processions celebrations over the weekend, think of this as the dress run for some serious partying in 2028!

“What difference does political independence have?” you might ask. Women in the UK were given the right to vote in 1928 and are living in a country that the World Economic Forum (WEF) considers to be one of the most equal in their Global Gender Gap Report in 2017. By comparison, Saudi Arabia, which is ranked as one of the worst countries globally in the same report, only extended their women citizens the right to vote in 2015. Working for The Circle my focus is on the most marginalised women and girls, but I learnt that, despite having the vote for 100 years, the UK also has a lot of work to do to achieve gender equality. So as one of my favourite banners from yesterday reads – “We Have the Vote. Now We Want Equality’”. Equality for all women. And we will not stop until every woman is empowered to make her own choices and make change happen for herself.

In 2018 we find ourselves in a very different world where the stories of history are being re-examined and often criticised because they have often been told by the same perspective – overwhelmingly that of white heterosexual middle and upper-class men. Looking back on the suffragette movement I am thus further inspired when I really reflect on Sylvia Pankhurst’s words in 1931.

“… as to the suffrage movement, it was a gathering of people of all sorts, united by one simple idea, which necessitated the surrender of no prejudice of race or class”.

Sylvia Pankhurst

With only 22% of women receiving the right to vote and this being reliant on a property ownership, the majority of the women represented by that percentage would have been wealthy white women.  The suffragette movement in the UK wasn’t directly campaigning with a racial agenda to exclude ethnic minorities, which was the case in examples seen in countries like the USA, Australia and South Africa. For example, the suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, goddaughter of Queen Victoria, was born of Indian and German-Ethiopian ethnicity. Sushama Sen (a woman of Indian ethnicity) recalls in her book Memoirs of an Octogenarian that when the suffragettes heard of her activities campaigning for the women’s vote, they invited her to join their demonstrations in Piccadilly in 1910. However, through my research I have found no evidence to suggest that specific consideration was given to women of ethnic minorities who would have been less able to realise their rights due to the oppression faced in addition to sexism. What is inspiring about the suffragette movement between 1918 and 1928 is that despite the more privileged women in UK society having received the vote in 1918, the fight for political equality continued. It unified women from all walks of life, living in the UK, to stand together for political equality, regardless of who they were. We are celebrating today because together, they won.  

In 2018 there are huge inequalities that exist between women and men. The experiences of those inequalities between women are also worlds apart. As a South African woman, the challenges I have faced because of my gender are hardly a drop in the ocean when compared to Siyanda, a woman who is committed to self-empowerment at the Nonceba Women’s Shelter in South Africa, a project supported by The Circle. The difference between us is that, in addition to sexism, Siyanda has faced challenges connected to her ethnicity, lack of access to education and financial independence, which are all beyond her control. Now in 2018 we have more knowledge, we have the gift of hind sight and we can see how the road to gender equality is longer for women who are facing discrimination on multiple fronts. I am part of the small percentage of women who are closer to equal rights than most. The suffragettes focused on women in the UK, but they did not have the internet to connect them to their global sisters. The suffragettes had bells to make noise, we have various forms of media. As women today, we also have networks and influence that the suffragettes could only dream of in 1918. With the inspiration of the suffragettes behind us and the winds of change in the global movement for gender equality powering our sails —I ask you to remember where we have come from and to please join me as we continue to fight for equality for all women, especially those who are still treated as far less equal than you or I.

 

 

 

@PetaBB
Peta Barrett is a member of The Circle since 2016 and our Relationship Manager since 2017.


The Asian Circle celebrates its fourth birthday with a Chai Day at Montys

The Asian Circle members and Rav Bansal (right), from the Great British Bake Off.

The Asian Circle celebrated its fourth birthday with a Chai Day at Montys Nepalese restaurant in Ealing on Saturday 9th December 2017. The Asian Circle was joined by The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) star Rav Bansal, who is supporting The Asian Circle in their fight for gender equality and baked a spectacular cake for the occasion. The Asian Circle founder Santosh Bhanot provided an update on 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…

Continue reading on the New Asian Post


On feminism in Buenos Aires and Chai Day

Photo: Fiona at her Chai Day at the University of Bristol.

The Circle volunteer Fiona Gilligan shares her experience supporting a women’s rights NGO in Buenos Aires and how it inspired her to organise a Chai Day at the University of Bristol.

I was fortunate enough to spend the first six months of 2016 in Buenos Aires, combining my interest in fashion and textiles with a cause I feel incredibly strongly about – women’s rights and gender equality.

In Argentina, it is a widely circulated statistic published by the NGO La Casa del Encuentro that a woman dies every thirty hours due to gender-based violence. That is to say, women up and down the country are being killed every day for being women.

Therefore, in recent years there has been a rise in the number of NGOs dedicated solely to the needs of women. Mediapila is one such organisation. It is dedicated to empowering and mobilising women through sewing and dressmaking workshops. The overall aim of the foundation is to provide women from underprivileged backgrounds with the skills and, more importantly, the confidence, to be able to find employment in the textiles industry.

The foundation works solely with women, as they believe that women symbolise the root to social change. Working towards a better future for these women enables them to also provide a better future for their children and families, thus changing society on a greater scale.

I was struck by the creativity and tenacity of the women at the foundation, many of whom were in the process of developing their own businesses alongside their studies at the foundation.  They all possessed an incredible passion to learn and a genuine desire to change their lives for the better. I formed strong relationships with many of them, in particular María, a former student who had gone on to become a teacher at the foundation. María’s infectious laughter filled the workshop each day and was a reminder to all the women of the power of female strength and beauty. Despite experiencing such hardship in the shape of forced migration, discrimination and poverty, María embraced each day with a smile. I felt privileged to be working with such strong and inspirational women like María on a daily basis.

My experience in Buenos Aires made me very aware that, although we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, we have many privileges as women in the UK. All women should have access to the same opportunities in order to reach their full potential in life. This is a joint responsibility, and it is essential that we collectively recognise this in order to achieve gender equality.

This motivated me to get involved with further gender equality projects when I returned to university in Bristol. My friend Erin was doing an internship at The Circle and told me about Chai Day. It is a great initiative that brings people together over a cup of chai in order to raise awareness and funds to combat gender-based violence in the UK, India and South Africa. It was incredibly easy to organise. The Circle provides a detailed information pack, as well as a poster template to advertise your Chai Day around your university, workplace, or wherever you are planning to hold it. All that was left to do was to get baking! I was incredibly pleased with the support from other students and with the amount we managed to collectively raise.

If you would like to hold your own Chai Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence in your community, inspire your friends or colleagues, and raise funds to support women who have survived violence, go to www.chaiday.org.


Relationship Manager Musings: Teabags and Hashtags

 

Peta Barrett, the Relationship Manager at The Circle, on the Chai Day 2017 launch and why you should organise a Chai Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence

Colourful falling leaves, busy squirrels and tea go hand in hand for me. My autumn is always tea-inspired. Tea spiced with meaningful discussions with friends; cosy evenings in with a hot brew as energy levels start to cool with the weather; tea steaming up the windows, and tea’s magically unique comforting warmth, like a hug in a mug.

As a member of The Circle, chai tea and autumn brewed together in November also means confronting hard truths and saying enough is enough. Last month, Chai Day was launched with our members. An inspiring evening with speakers — The Circle Executive Director Sioned Jones, who shared The Circle’s mission; Santosh Bhanot, Chair of The Asian Circle, who started the Chai Day movement and shared her experiences of visiting women supported by funds raised through Chai Day, and Gina Conway of Gina Conway Salons — an inspiring member who shared her experience of hosting Chai Day at her salons in 2016.

Chai Day is an opportunity to gather people around a hot beverage on 25 November — significantly the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — to look at how gender-based violence manifests in our community and what we can do about it. Last month was also the month when the #MeToo hashtag flooded the internet. With all the awareness scrolled and clicked through on smart phones, tablets and screens, the importance of Chai Day is more significant than ever before. It is the vital next step to engaging and talking about the issue (and I don’t mean via 140 characters in the comments thread).

As a professional working for women’s rights, a friend to many who have experienced more than just a “tap on the arse”, and as someone who can freely identify as a woman in a city where I am more empowered than most, I feel that it is important to facilitate conversations around this topic. Chai Day offers people a platform to do this. If we can ensure that dialogue about gender-based violence in our communities, and those around the world, continue past social media trends, we will be winning one small battle in the current war on women and girls.

The #MeToo storm that has hit social media is important because it has demonstrated that experiences of gender-based harassment and assault are commonplace amongst women, and that it exists across women of all ages, races, culture and class. The #MeToo trend is, in isolation, far from perfect because the victim is still being expected to place herself in a vulnerable position (by speaking out) as well as lead the discussion in a world that still largely blames the victim. It also ignores other genders affected by gender-based violence and is in danger of ignoring the serious disparities that exist between experiences and why these occur.

To prevent the hashtag from existing only as a social media flurry that will fizzle out, we need to be inspired by the overwhelming outcry and use it proactively to initiate and establish dialogues between all genders. This is important not only for the reality of the situation to take hold, but also to ensure that all people are able to reflect on the roles we play in contributing towards the inequalities that exist between genders in 2017. Uniting and talking about experiences to bring about lasting change is the real intention behind the initial Me Too campaign initiated by Tarana Burke ten years ago. It is also the inspiration behind The Circle’s Chai Day as part of the global movement for gender equality.

For these reasons and so many more I will be arming myself with my #ChaiDay and #MeToo hashtags, some hard facts about gender-based violence, videos of The Circle’s inspiring projects and some chai teabags. My invitations have gone out and we will be opening our home in London on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to friends, colleagues and people we would like to get to know better.

I am asking my guests to bring their questions, experiences, opinions and an open mind. If they enjoy the treats, hot drinks and discussions and feel inspired to donate towards projects aimed at ending violence against women – great I’ll have a money box for their small change and a PC ready for any online donations. If they don’t, it’s more important for me that they turn up and be part of the conversation. Why? Because 38% of all men and 34% of all women who participated in a study conducted by the Fawcett Society in 2016 said that if a woman goes out late at night, wearing a short skirt, gets drunk and is then the victim of a sexual assault she is fully or partly to blame. Because across the world 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate male partner. Because globally 71% of human trafficking victims are women and girls. Because I want our daughters to grow up and talk about gender inequality as something that happened in the “olden days”.

At an event at Southbank with Margaret Atwood discussing her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the question of “what can I do” was asked. Margaret simply and eloquently answered, “Imagine the world you want to live in and act accordingly”. I want a world where gender-based violence does not exist. In the meantime, I will imagine a world where women (and other genders) can talk about their experiences of gender-based violence without shame and fear of being blamed.

If my passion for this subject has inspired you and you would like to host your own Chai Day in your home, office, yoga studio, football club or hairdresser, visit our website to find downloadable invitations, promotional materials, helpful tips, videos and facts to use as conversation starters.

I look forward to raising my tea cup with yours on 25 November for a better, safer world.

 

 

 

@PetaBB
Peta Barrett is a member of The Circle since 2016 and our Relationship Manager since 2017.