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


Young Global Feminists at #March4Women

Photo credit: Judit Prieto.

On Sunday the 4th March, by the houses of Parliament, the air was cold, but the atmosphere was warm, filled with minds and hearts of people from all over — all protesting against the same thing. We were fighting against the abuse and discrimination and political imbalance against women. Above waves of people, flew colourful, hand-drawn and humorous posters in all shapes and sizes. A multitude of different people — men, women, teens, children, introverts — came out to raise awareness about the issue that affects many, daily. It was rainy, but we persisted with our heads high and hearts in our voices and hands. The march ended after drumming and chanting in Trafalgar Square: the place where the whole movement really started. Speeches were said and songs were sung and, most importantly, we gained attention. We gained attention politically and through the media to show everyone how we still need change. Yet again, it was a small step, but that small step felt good. It felt inspiring.

Written by Amelia and Emily, 14 years old. Amelia and Emily attended the #March4Women 2018 with their mum and other members of The Circle. They are the next generation of The Circle members and global feminists.

To find out more about our membership and how to sign up to become a member, click here.


Bina’s Story of Surviving Gender-Based Violence

 

Bina is a survivor of gender-based violence. She has received support from a women’s shelter in India, which was set up by The Asian Circle. This is how it changed her life.

When Bina was pregnant, she was physically and verbally abused by her husband and threatened with more abuse if she told anyone. When she fled to her family’s home, her husband attacked them too.

Bina and her family went to the police station but the police refused to help her. Luckily, one of The Circle’s and Oxfam’s partner organisations spotted the family as they were walking into the police station and offered their help.

The organisation offered Bina counselling and legal support. She has managed to put her husband behind bars, has applied for child maintenance and is learning how to sew so that she can get a job and raise her son Vijay, who is two years old now.

Despite enormous societal pressure, Bina refuses to return to her husband.

The Circle, Oxfam, several local organisations and women leaders in Chhattisgarh and Odisha are working together to set up support centres offering medical care, legal advice, counselling and shelters to survivors of gender-based violence. Click here to find out more about the project.


Feminist Calendar: March and April 2018

Photo: Care International’s #March4Women rally, 2017.

Looking for inspiration from incredible women around the country? The Circle volunteer Anna Renfrew has got it covered with this collection of feminist events near you!

1 March – Both Sides Now (Leeds)

Both Sides Now is a large-scale initiative taking place across the North of England to support emerging female artists and up-and-coming industry professionals to transform the future of the music industry.

Its aim is to create a network that delivers sustainable activity and affects permanent change around the perception, opportunities and profiling of women in music, from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the stage.

This first ‘Open Space’ event is for anyone with an interest in this conversation to come together and discuss what could make a real difference – whether that’s about role models, motherhood, education, social mobility, policy change or something else entirely.

1 March – Consent in the classroom: mapping SRE provisions after #MeToo (Cambridge)

The presentation of GENPOL’s new policy paper, one of the first studies assessing the quality and influence of sexual education across all EU member states. The policy paper examines the links between SRE and gender-based violence, suggesting that comprehensive and inclusive teaching can help challenge and prevent abusive behaviours. It outlines GenPol’s innovative approach to consent-centred SRE, and carefully unpacks the relationship between educational efforts and gender-based violence prevention. It also celebrates the vital work of sex education and gender equality advocates across Europe, whilst identifying existing gaps that need to be addressed.

2 March – The Feminist Disco II (Edinburgh)

Join the joyous rebellion and embrace the fun of feminism with your fellow feministas. The Feminist Disco is back in Edinburgh with more great tunes and excellent company!

2 March – My Life as a Scottish MP (Edinburgh)

The European Parliament Liason Office in Edinburgh will host a panel discussion event for International Women’s Day to discuss women’s issues at national European level and the specific challenges faced by women in politics. This will be an all-female panel with speakers including Catherine Stihler and Elspeth Attwooll!

3 March – Stereotypes of Black Women’s Identities (Bristol)

“A panel discussion led by three women from diverse backgrounds leading the discussion on the stereotyped black woman. For centuries, black women have been shoehorned into a handful of stereotypes — the mammy, the sexual siren, the welfare queen, the matriarch, and the angry Black woman. Arguably, Michelle Obama represents a pushback against each of these, even at the implicit level.”

African Voices Forum leads round table discussions on the identity of black women as part of the General Assembly’s proclamation of this decade as the Decade for People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.

4 March – March4Women, The Circle (London)

The Circle members will be marching through the streets of London to show solidarity for women everywhere. It’s going to be a fun and empowering way to get to know each other more and support women’s rights. Not a member yet? Join us!

4 March – Imkaan x gal-dem: fundraiser to support women facing violence (London)

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, for one Sunday filmmaker Jade Jackman, Politics Editor for gal-dem Leah Cowan and the rest of gal-dem will fill the House of Vans with film screenings, several talks, a raffle and a marketplace. All proceeds will be donated to Imkaan, the only UK-based, second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black minoritised women and girls.

Through celebrating the words and works of women and non-binary folk of colour, we will support women in the UK who will be most affected by the government’s proposed changes to domestic violence funding which will leave some refuges and services without funding. By uplifting and celebrating women, we want to support others.

With workshops and panel discussions focusing on BME women’s experience of sexualized and racialized harassment and ending deportations. There will also be a talk by Paula Akpan, gal-dem’s social media editor, in conversation with activist and model Munroe Bergdorf.

7 March – March of Women, a film from Glasgow Women’s Library and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Dundee)

First performed in 2015, March of Women celebrated the lives and achievements of Scottish women past and present. In this documentary film, you will hear from the women involved as they talk about the heroines they chose to represent. After the film you’ll get the chance to join the discussion and create your own suffragette-style rosette with a message for women today.

This event is for women only.

8 March – International Women’s Day Celebration (Edinburgh)

The Empower Project and WomenBeing have teamed up to host a celebration of women this Thursday for International Women’s Day. The event will feature an exhibition of art and photography, spoken word performances, and live music from women living in and around Edinburgh. Taking place at The Dog House in Newington, they will be taking donations of hygiene products for Homeless Period. Lets have a party!

8 March – Girl TALKS – International Women’s Day Special (Leeds)

Girl Talk is a free, monthly, informal meet up for creative women and non-binary people hosted by Girl Gang Leeds. Their monthly meet-up falls on International Women’s Day so this one is going to be extra special!

With talks from Kristyna Baczynski, Modes of Expression, Equaliser, Four Chambers and Freedom4girls.

8, 9, 10 March – Nasty Women Exhibition: Empowerment (London)

To celebrate International Women’s Day Creative Debuts has joined forces with Nasty Women New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, North East, and London to celebrate the work of international feminist artists.

Expect to see a range of contemporary artwork including photography, sculpture, craft, fine art, and film whilst raising money for End Violence Against Women. RSVP is essential!

9, 10, 11, 17 March – POWERFUL WOMEN: A Hidden History, at the National Gallery (London)

It’s back!

“Did you know that of the 2,300 paintings on display at the National Gallery, only eleven are by women? Did you know that only around five per cent of the works in major permanent collections worldwide is by women artists? Did you know that on average less than five per cent of the artists in permanent collection’s modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female? Can you name the female heroes and seductresses of the old testament? Do you know their stories? Have you ever heard of a Maenad? Medusa? Madame Pompidour? Saint Catherine?”

London Drawing Group is addressing this imbalance: “POWERFUL WOMEN: a Hidden History invites you to step inside London’s Iconic National Gallery with a celebration of powerful female figures throughout history; from Grecian Goddesses to the wonderfully vicious Old Testament heroines, stories of Saints and Martyrs, Witches, Monsters and the too-long-forgotten female artists of the National Gallery”.

Let resident LDG tutor Luisa-Maria MacCormack guide you through the gallery and spend the afternoon practicing drawing exercises that are designed to help you understand and engage with these paintings and stories in new and creative ways.

9, 10, 11 March – WOW Festival(London)

WOW – Women of the World festival celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential.

Around the world, individuals and communities are insisting on the simple proposition that women and girls must have equal rights and asking the question: why is gender equality taking so long?

Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival is a global network of festivals which provides a platform for celebrating what has been achieved, and exploring all the ways we can change the world for the better. The Circle will have a stall at the WOW Market Place, so come and meet the team!

12-13 April – Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities (Oxford)

After the resounding success of the first Queer Modernism(s) conference in 2017, Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities, will be held on 12 and 13 April 2018 at the University of Oxford. Queer Modernism(s) II is an interdisciplinary, international conference exploring the place of queer identity in modernist art, literature and culture, with an emphasis on intersecting identities. Panelists will question, discuss and interrogate the social, sexual, romantic, artistic, affective, legal and textual relationship between queer identity and modernity.

The Keynotes will be Dr. Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Jana Funke (University of Exeter). Dr. Parmar is a BBC New Generation thinker and has published widely on women’s literature in the 20th century, especially lesser known and non-canonical women. Dr. Funke is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities in the English Department at the University of Exeter and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Her research cuts across modernist studies, the history of sexuality and the history of science. She has published on modernist women’s writing, the history of sexual science and queer literature and history.

Click here to see the provisional programme.

26 April – Empower Her Voice: Mothers in the Arts (London)

Empower Her Voice – London is an organisation which aims to promote education and create discussion amongst women around the world; it was set up by Zainab Majid and Amira Fateh in 2017 and since then has run successful talks and events that aim to increase positive networking between self-identifying women for a charitable cause.

For the first ever Empower Her Voice event in London, a group of fascinating women will discuss what it means to be a working mother in the arts today, whilst raising money for girls to attend school in Lahore, Pakistan.

With a fantastic lineup of speakers on the panel: Yana Peel (CEO of the Serpentine Galleries), Fiammetta Rocco (Arts & Books Editor at The Economist), Elif Şafak / Elif Shafak (author), Margy Kinmonth (film and television director), Joanna Kirk (represented by BlainSouthern), Martine Rose (fashion designer) and Alice Murphy (historian), this is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

Written by @AnnaRenfrew. Anna is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Circle.


Sexual violence in conflict and the use of women as weapons of war

Photo credit: Jan Dago. Published by Alexia Foundation. Internally-displaced civilians during the Sierra Leone civil war.

In modern wars, it is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier on the front line. Women can endure violence, rape and even see their children killed.

In 2008, the United Nations formally declared rape a “weapon of war”, and Major General Patrick Cammaert, a former UN force commander, spoke of the spread of rape as a war tactic, saying: “It has become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.”

The first order of business in conflict zones is usually to deprive women of education and health services, restricting any kind of participation in economic and political life. However, in recent conflicts, sexual violence statistics have skyrocketed with staggering levels of mass rapes being reported.

Declared over in January 2002, the civil war in Sierra Leone had raged for more than a decade, leaving half of the pre-war population displaced, 50,000 dead, 100,000 mutilated and over a quarter of a million women raped.

In a three-month time period during the 1994 genocide, more than 250,000 women and girls were raped in Rwanda.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo – also known as the rape capital of the world – 48 women were raped every hour during the 2011 conflict, making the statistics almost one woman per minute.

There’s no denying that rape in wartime is an act of violence that targets sexuality. Moreover, militias quickly discovered that the most cost-effective way to terrorise civilian populations is to conduct rapes of mass brutality. The humiliation, pain, and fear inflicted by perpetrators not only dominates and degrades the individual victim, but also her community.  

Christina Lamb, foreign correspondent for The Times, told in a TEDxExeter talk in May 2017 of some of the things she had witnessed when working in the field.

“Over the last year I’ve seen worse things than I’ve ever seen before,” she said.

“In Northern Nigeria three years ago, around 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok and the story made international news for around two weeks. I went there and found out that, actually, more than 1,000 girls had been abducted, unreported. And when I spoke to these girls, they had terrible stories about being gang-raped by Boko Haram fighters and being forced to marry them.

“Some of them had escaped and were in camps but they told me that their own families wouldn’t take them back because they saw them as being sullied or they were worried they’d been indoctrinated. In fact, one of them – a little girl – had been so badly raped that she couldn’t walk. She shuffled like a crab.”

Modern wars are increasingly characterised by these barbaric acts of sexual violence to terrorise populations and destroy communities.

“And then there was the Yazidi girls. 5,000 of them abducted by ISIS and sold for less than the price of a cigarette packet. I spoke to one of them who had been released and she told me that the worst night of her life was when her captor – a fat judge – brought back a 10-year-old girl and raped her in the room next door to her, as she cried for her mother all night”, said Christina Lamb.

ISIS continues to unleash violence that disproportionately targets women and girls as young as three and the victims are often enslaved, sexually abused and traded like chattel in the human trafficking underworld where their payment is then used to fund the war and further terrorist attacks.

Even after conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence persist, with unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigmatisation rife in post-war communities. Widespread sexual violence itself may continue or even increase in the aftermath of conflict and meeting the needs of survivors — including medical care, HIV treatment, psychological support, economic assistance and legal redress – often requires resources that most post-conflict countries do not have.

So, what can we do to help?

Advancing women’s rights and empowerment is vital in addressing the needs of female survivors worldwide. Not only do we need to raise awareness of atrocities against women and girls, but we also need to fight for justice and reforms in policy and foreign diplomacy.

We must work to remove the stigma around sexual violence, help women and girls tell their stories and create and help existing support systems for survivors. The Circle strives to achieve all of these.

By supporting projects worldwide, The Circle works with women who have experienced sexual violence in projects such as the Nonceba Women’s Shelter, those fighting domestic violence in India and the courageous female journalists of the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, who give a voice to the incredible – and undoubtedly brave – survivors of conflict from around the world.

 

 

 

 

Written by @shanhodge.
Shannon is a Journalism graduate and a volunteer at The Circle.


8 Inspiring Quotes by War Correspondent Marie Colvin

As part of The Circle’s month celebrating women in journalism, today we remember the incredible Marie Colvin, one of the bravest foreign correspondents of our time and a passionate advocate of women’s rights and influencing change.

If blinded in one eye by shrapnel, many journalists would consider a career change or at the very least avoid working on the front line. But Marie Colvin’s tenacious attitude and drive to give a voice to those caught in conflict helped her overcome her injury, which she sustained while reporting in Sri Lanka for The Sunday Times. The American-born reporter returned to the field donning a black eye patch to continue reporting on some of the world’s largest atrocities including 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and the Arab Spring.

Known to plunge to the point of deepest conflict and remain there for longer than anyone else, Marie had been stranded on a 12,000-foot mountain in Chechnya after escaping Russian paratroopers, chased by a mob of around 100 men in Egypt, interviewed the infamous Colonel Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat and reported from some of the world’s most brutal conflict zones during her 25-year career for The Sunday Times. She sadly died in a rocket attack reporting the uprising in Syria in February 2012.

Risking her life over and over again, Marie Colvin was not only a courageous and tireless reporter across the world, she was also an incredible inspiration to women in her profession. In fact, her determination to portray the stories of in her own words “innocents” around the world and her passionate belief in the rights of women is what influenced the creation of The Marie Colvin Circle.

Marie took every opportunity to offer advice and mentoring to young female journalists just starting out, as well as being a well-loved friend to her fellow, experienced reporters.

Not long before Marie’s death, she was introduced to The Circle—so her friends Lyse Doucet, Lindsey Hilsum and Jane Wellesley wanted to commemorate Marie by setting up The Marie Colvin Circle, to continue her practical support for women producing quality, independent journalism.

To celebrate the life and work of Marie Colvin, we’ve rounded up our favourite inspirational quotes from the exceptionally brave, warm, intelligent and formidable woman the world grew to love.

1. “Simply: there’s no way to cover war properly without risk…”

“…Covering a war means going into places torn by chaos, destruction, death and pain, and trying to bear witness to that. I care about the experience of those most directly affected by war, those asked to fight and those who are just trying to survive. Going to these places, finding out what is happening, is the only way to get at the truth. Despite all the videos you see on television, what’s on the ground has remained remarkably the same for the past 100 years. Craters. Burnt houses. Women weeping for sons and daughters. Suffering. In my profession, there is no chance of unemployment. The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that someone will care.”

The Sunday Times, 21 October 2001. Bravery is not being afraid to be afraid.

2. “These are not just numbers. I want to tell the stories of each person.”

2005, Bearing Witness documentary.

3. “Our mission is to speak the truth to power…”

“…We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.”

November 2010. A speech Marie gave on the importance of war reporting during a service for war wounded at St Bride’s church, London.

4. “Bravery is not being afraid to be afraid.”

A speech Marie gave when she accepted an award for her work in Sri Lanka.

5. “War reporting is still essentially the same—someone has to go there and see what is happening…”

“…You can’t get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you. The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people, be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen. We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference.”

November 2010. A speech Marie gave on the importance of war reporting during a service for war wounded at St Bride’s church, London.

6. “When it stops mattering to me, I’ll stop doing it.”

2005, Bearing Witness documentary.

7. “These are people who have no voice…”

“…I feel I have a moral responsibility towards them, that it would be cowardly to ignore them. If journalists have a chance to save their lives, they should do so.”

Marie said in one of her BBC broadcasts in 1999 in East Timor, where she reported from a besieged compound containing 1,500 women and children. They were later freed after Marie’s broadcasts made international leaders put pressure on the Indonesian government to let them all go.

8. “Be passionate and be involved in what you believe in, and do it as thoroughly and honestly and fearlessly as you can.”

BBC, 22 February 2012. Her mother on Marie Colvin’s legacy.

 

The Marie Colvin Circle is currently running the Marie Colvin Journalists Network project, which provides a network for female journalists working in the Middle East and North Africa, to create a vibrant online community that provides practical support, mentoring and lively discussion.


Written by @shanhodge.
Shannon is a Journalism graduate and a volunteer at The Circle.

 


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle Member Efe

“Her story has encouraged people like me to know that you’re not alone in this situation, and that’s what The Circle is all about”

Efe is a Biomedical Scientist and a member of The Circle. In her Widen Your Circle vlog, Efe explains why she is a member and tells us about one fellow member that has inspired her to continue working towards gender equality.

#WidenYourCircle

The Circle members are women from all walks of life who come together to support some of the most marginalised women and girls across the globe.

Click here to become a member of The Circle and Widen Your Circle.


Widen Your Circle: with Susan and Adrienne

“To actually sit down for the first time ever and have a conversation about domestic violence and about sex trafficking… we’re connecting at a very different level”

This month, our members are taking over our blog, to tell you why they want to be part of The Circle and what they are doing to support women around the world.

The first vlog is by Susan Ferner and Adrienne Furrie, two new members who live in Alberta, Canada. Over the past few months, they have been organising small, informal meetings with their friends, relatives and neighbours, to talk about some of the issues that affect women in their community and globally.

Become a member to support women and girls around the world and Widen Your Circle.