The Circle Joins Civil Society Coalition Calling on the EU to Re-Design the Textile Industry’s Broken Business Model

 

Today brings the launch of the Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear, a shadow strategy developed by a diverse coalition of 65 social and environmental NGOs.

The Circle is pleased to be a signatory to this document, joining with others to call on the EU to promote and support development of a Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear (TGLF) industry that respects human rights, creates decent jobs and adheres to high environmental and responsible governance standards throughout its value chain, in the EU and beyond.

“This strategy is more relevant now than ever, as the coronavirus pandemic impacts global supply chains and increases the vulnerability of garment workers in some of the world’s poorest countries,” says Dr Sharon McClenaghan of The Circle’s Living Wage Project. “Stronger regulation is needed to address the negative impact this industry has on the environment and to protect workers around the world from the harmful employment practices of brands and retailers.”


Press Release: Coronavirus strengthens case for new EU textile laws – 65 civil society groups publish joint vision

Executive summary: Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather & Footwear

Full text of the strategy: Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather & Footwear


The COVID-19 pandemic exposes the extreme vulnerability of workers in global garment supply chains as never before as shops close and demand for fashion dries up.

Early indications estimate a total of £20 billion of orders worldwide have been cancelled,1 and in Bangladesh alone, the second biggest apparel producer, an estimated $6 billion in export revenue is estimated to be lost.2 This in turn is devastating for textile workers who are losing their livelihoods and sometimes their homes as a result. In Pakistan 1 million workers are set to lose their jobs3 while reports from Bangladesh indicate some 2.27 million workers are affected by cancelled orders.4 The Workers Rights Consortium estimate there are a total of 50 million workers in production factories worldwide.5 Many of these workers are young women, often their family’s primary wage earner.

“The current crisis is unprecedented,” added Sharon. “At the moment no one knows quite what the industry will look like when the pandemic ends. Our concern is that when supply chains open up again these workers will be more vulnerable to exploitation than before. We desperately need regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure that does not happen.”


COVID-19 Brings Further Devastation to Refugee Camps

Image: Tessa Kraan/BRF

‘Vulnerable women in labour; four-day old babies sleeping in freezing tents.’ – Dr Annie Chapman

COVID-19 is a threat to every country and community, but refugee camps are dealing with impossible circumstances and are housing some of the most vulnerable people in the world. They are nowhere near equipped to deal with a pandemic. This year the Guardian have been very focused on documenting the current conditions in the Moria camp in Lesbos, Greece. One article by Harriet Grant on 11th February 2020 – ‘UN calls for urgent evacuation of Lesbos refugee camp’ –  makes no mention of Coronavirus. But when we consider the devastating conditions that refugees are already facing daily, one cannot help but wonder how it is possible for them to survive coronavirus once it enters the camps. Refugees are already some of the most vulnerable people on the planet right now. How can we protect them against coronavirus when healthcare is already at crisis point? This is a question which is incredibly concerning for women and girls especially.

Grant spoke to Dr Hana Pospisilova, a consultant cardiologist who volunteers at the Moria camp in Lesbos. Pospisilova is deeply concerned that the inhumane conditions could cause “[…]a pandemic breaking out”. Pospisilova told the Guardian that people cannot wash without risking their lives; “[…]they say to wash means waiting three hours and it’s risky: people have knives, and you can only have two minutes in the shower after you wait.” Women and girls also live in fear of being sexually abused. In 2018 Monica Costa Riba, senior campaigner on women’s rights at Amnesty International’s Europe office reported on the daily dangers women face in Greek refugee camps. Riba mentions a woman who lived in Vathy camp on Samos and told Amnesty that “[The] shower in the camp is cold and there is no lock. Men walk in when you are inside. There are no lights in the toilets. At night, sometimes I go to the toilet with my sister or pee in a bucket”. This means hygiene, already difficult to practice, becomes more difficult with coronavirus.

Women are usually the main support for their children in families. The lack of childcare services increases the risk of coronavirus spreading. Everyday refugees are fighting for basic necessities. Pospisilova goes on to say how they are wearing the same clothes for months. Children have scabies but they cannot be treated without washing. What is even more concerning in relation to the coronavirus is that Pospisilova is concerned about respiratory problems. At the time the article was published it was winter, so people were sleeping in wet tents and waiting hours to collect food in terribly cold temperatures.

Exactly one month later on 11th March 2020 an article was published by Grant titled ‘Lesbos coronavirus case sparks fears for refugee camp’ with the news that there had been a case of coronavirus on Lesbos. The week leading up to the article’s publication doctors’ and journalists’ had been ‘attacked by a group of vigilantes’ because tensions were rising and anger was taking root due to migrants arriving in an already severely overcrowded camp. This led to vital care provided Médecins San Frontiéres (MSF) to close for two days but this inevitably meant that on reopening they became overwhelmed with too many patients to care for. The lack of essential items and healthcare access poses an insurmountable risk to peoples’ lives.

Image: Tessa Kraan/BRF

The Guardian published an Observer special report – ‘A doctor’s story: inside the ‘living hell’ of Moria refugee camp’ – on 9th February 2020. The very phrase ‘living hell’ is telling of the severe healthcare crisis and the phrases ‘riot squads clashed’, ‘harrowing account of life’ and ‘crowds of migrants’ in the byline begs for its audience to pay attention. Annie Chapman is a doctor who recently worked with the Boat Refugee Foundation. Chapman states that the camp was built for 3,100 people. It is hard to imagine that there are now more than 20,000. BRF provides emergency medical care across the camp; there is no other. Even trying to stay warm is life-threatening. Chapman treated two children who were rushed to the BRF because they had been sitting by a fire and were unconscious due to the carbon monoxide after sitting around it ‘for a sustained period of time.’ After detailing specific serious cases Chapman writes ‘This is not abnormal. This is daily.’ Violence is daily. Fear is consistent. Calling this a crisis cannot even begin to describe the inhumanity of these conditions which refugees are fighting to live through.

‘The suffering is palpable, the hopelessness is insidious’ – Annie Chapman

With the hashtag #sosmoria across social media. Doctors are urging EU leaders to recognise a state of emergency in order to protect refugees in Greece against coronavirus. In a video published by the UNHCR’s YouTube channel on 19th February 2020, Sardar, a 41-year-old doctor who fled Afghanistan with his wife and children, speaks of life in the Moria camp: ‘Life in the camp is not acceptable for everyone[…]they have toilet, bathroom, for, I think, 3,000[…]If you want to go toilet, it takes hours to wait for the toilet.’According to Chapman, due to the fear of sexual abuse, many women and children wear nappies when darkness falls to avoid the fearful journey to the toilet; the camp is pitch-black. There has been no ‘reliable’ electricity for two months. Sardar goes on to say that ‘The medical care is very poor because of the overcrowding.’ Sometimes they have to return home without water. It also takes hours to queue for food. In this video, Sardar was the 3525th person in line. We need to work together to defeat coronavirus and spreading awareness on social media is one thing we can do to help.

In a time like this, the importance of the work that women and girls are doing cannot be emphasised enough. It is imperative that we spread awareness of the devastating impact that coronavirus is having on refugee women and girls, but we must also spread awareness of the positive work they are doing to create a safer and healthier community. This year for World Health Day the UNHCR published an article on how women and girls in refugee communities are helping to make the camps a healthier place. They celebrate the vital ways that women and girls are doing this and the immense responsibility of this in relation to coronavirus. Refugee girls walk for hours to collect water from safe water sources. This water is crucial for good hygiene which will ultimately prevent illness. One incredible way that women are making a difference is through making soap to help Syrian refugees at the Za’atari refugee camp. You can see a video of the women making the soaps by clicking here.

On 18th March 2020 Help Refugees posted a message on their blog which also provides some light in a situation that only appears to be getting darker. Help Refugees are a charity who work in refugee camps in Bosnia, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Serbia, UK, Lebanon and Turkey. They provide local organisations and help them with funding, material aid or volunteers. Help Refugees are working hard to limit the spread of coronavirus such as through prioritising hygiene packs and educating about the importance of hand washing. They are carefully making sure to work with government policy, which is thankfully enabling them to continue providing basic, essential items such as food, water, and safe places to sleep. Incredibly, the partners that Help Refugees are working with are adapting to provide remote psychosocial support, education and children’s entertainment. Help Refugees are truly inspiring. In the midst of dire headlines raising concern for the health and wellbeing of refugees, I am finding hope in the persistent effort of Help Refugees. It is vital more than ever before that we support this amazing charity in addition to all other NGOs who are working so hard to provide care, love and support.

‘Coronavirus knows no borders, Neither does love’ – Help Refugees

 

This article was written by Georgia Bridgett who is a volunteer for The Circle. Georgia is a recent English graduate and is passionate about women’s rights and the underlying issues in the fast-fashion industry.


COVID-19 Resource Hub

Image: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

We know that there is a lot of information regarding COVID-19 and the impact that it will have on marginalised women and girls on the internet right now. We thought we’d share with you some of the articles and reports that we’ve been reading to help you keep informed.

Cross-Issue

Gender-based Violence

Garment Workers


Global Feminism in Marie Claire

We’ve been included in Marie Claire’s list of empowering campaigns you need to hear about this International Women’s Day!

“Whilst cognisant of the fact we have come far by way of women’s rights, this campaign reminds us that there is still some way to go. Annie Lennox and The Circle NGO have created a short film to highlight some of the issues girls from around the world still face today. From rape to wealth disparity and all things in between, The Circle are targeting local policy systems to institute real, formative change …”

To read the full article, click here!


Global GoalsCast Partnership

We are thrilled to announce that The Circle have become partners of the incredible Global GoalsCast.

“Our partners are the heart of the podcast.  The stories that prove we are making the world a better place all come from our partners – from rock stars like Annie Lennox to female farmers in Zambia to girls learning to code in refugee camps. We can’t make the podcast without them.  So delighted to be working with The Circle.”

– Edie Lush, Co-Presenter of Global GoalsCast

Global GoalsCast is a podcast that inspires and empowers listeners to make the world a better place by sharing the stories of individuals, companies, and organisations that are advancing and achieving a more sustainable world.

In 2015, 193 world leaders signed a global agenda with 17 goals to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable world by the year 2030. These goals cover a range of issues, such as poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice. The Circle’s projects on Global Goal 5: Gender Equality, but there is often a Global Feminist angle to many of the issues that the podcast covers.

The podcast will make the goals easier to understand, more relatable, and feel more attainable for every listener. Each episode offers listeners inspirational stories, high quality data, and numerous ways in which they can take action and personally contribute to the global efforts making the goals’ achievement possible.

Recent podcasts episodes have featured the stories of migrants, perspectives on preventable diseases, girls in tech, and even an interview with The Circle Founder Annie Lennox on why we should all be Global Feminists. The podcast’s episodes are often inspired by their partners so watch this space for episodes amplifying the stories of the women and girls in our projects.

The Hosts

Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush are Co-Hosts of the podcast. Claudia is an advocate for the inclusion equity and representation. Her mission is to use her voice to build bridges and remind us that we are all human. She is the Founder of the We Are All Human Foundation in addition to being a Co-Host of ‘Global GoalsCast’. Edie Lush is a British-American Journalist, is an Author, Executive Editor of Hub Culture, a Communication Trainer and MC. Edie has thousands of interviews under her belt. In her role as Executive Editor at Hub Culture, she is responsible for creating impactful social media content around the globe, from events in Davos to the UN General Assembly in New York and to the COP Climate Summits.

Global Feminism Episode

Annie Lennox is the special guest on this episode of Global GoalsCast. The rock star talks about why she moved away from music and into an activist role fighting HIV / AIDS and working to improve the lives of girls and women around the world. She urges women — and men — to embrace the term Global Feminism. “If you use the term Global Feminism to describe what you represent and what you stand for,” Lennox says, “you understand feminism all around the world. It is not only from a western perspective.” At its heart, Global Feminism recognises that there are millions of girls and women around the world that “don’t have a voice and by using the term you’re making them present and known.” Click here to listen!


Celebrity Donations for Jumble Fever

Photo credit: Andre Camara

Annie Lennox and Colin Firth amongst celebrities donating items to second annual Jumble Fever!

For the second year, celebrity donations will be up for grabs at a jumble sale organised by The Oxford CircleJumble Fever will take place on Saturday 18th January from 11am-4pm, this time, in Oxford’s Town Hall, having outgrown its original home at the Tap Social. Commentator, activist and TV presenter Caryn Franklin MBE will be a special guest at the event.

One of the organisers of Jumble Fever, Claire Lewis revealed that: “This year Annie Lennox has generously donated a number of very special items including a stunning black velvet dress, a Club Monaco raincoat and Vivienne Westwood Red Heart earrings and bracelet. Some of these donations will be in the jumble sale and others will be part of the raffle which also includes a bag donated by Colin Firth from the Mary Poppins film as well as tickets for Creation Theatre, vouchers for the Ashmolean and Pizza Pilgrims, local attractions and workshops”.

All funds raised at Jumble Fever will be split between two causes supported by the NGO. Half will go to Nonceba, a shelter located in Khayelitsha, a township just outside Cape Town for survivors of domestic violence or trafficking. The other half will go to the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, which trains, mentors and supports young female journalists in the MENA region.

Annie Lennox said: “The two projects that Jumble Fever is supporting are both very close to my heart and illustrate why the work of The Circle is so important. Whether we’re amplifying women’s voices or giving them support and opportunities, everything we do works towards achieving equality for women and girls.”

The doors to Jumble Fever will be open from 11am-4pm and entry is £3, or £1 for anyone arriving before 2pm with a bag of donations. Shoppers can browse clothing for men, women and children, including prom dresses and designer labels, and buy tickets for the celebrity raffle.

Caryn Franklin has said that: “Jumble Fever is an excellent initiative, bringing the Oxford community together, showing that recycling and upscaling clothes can be fun and an effective way to challenge consumerism and prevent the growing landfill issue.”

There will be entertainment throughout the day, including performances from Oxford bands The Mother Folkers and The Kirals, and Magician Jamie Jibberish, aka Magic for Smiles, who performs for refugee children in Turkey and Jordan. MC for the day will be drag artist Her Who with tunes supplied by DJs Jodie Hampson from Dollar Shake and Donwella from Coop Audio. Food and drinks supplied by the “food with a conscience” team Waste2Taste.

Jumble Fever 2019 attracted over five hundred people and raised over £5300.

The Oxford Circle Chair, Leanne Duffield, says “Jumble Fever 2019 was a fantastic event and this year it will be even bigger and better. And the jumble sale is just the beginning for The Oxford Circle this year as we have 19 more events planned for 2020. All events will raise money or awareness for marginalised women around the world.”

Join us at the Oxford Town Hall on January 18th from 11am!

Photos by: Andre Camara, Rachel Hastie and Giles Hastie.

 


An Evening of Music and Conversation: Programmes

Image: Programme from An Evening of Music and Conversation

We are giving you the opportunity to purchase limited edition programmes from Annie Lennox: An Evening of Music and Conversation at the SEC Armadillo. For those of you who want something to remember the evening by, or for those who couldn’t make it, this is a fantastic item to remember her unique show.  Only 1,500 programmes were printed and these are the last of the stock.

All proceeds of the evening and of these programmes will go to The Circle.  For £12 per programme (£10 face value of programme plus £2 P&P) you will be supporting our work and empowering women and girls across the globe. Programmes will be delivered with 2nd class post and dispatched within one week of purchase. Maximum of two per purchaser.

Click here to make your purchase!

 

The Afternoon Show: Annie Lennox

Photo credit: Annie Lennox and Janice Forsyth on stage during An Evening of Music and Conversation

“This felt like Glasgow was the locus for an international event”

 

Janice Forsyth and journalist Paul English discuss Annie Lennox: An Evening of Music and Conversation at SEC Armadillo on BBC Sounds, speaking to audience members from all over the world and recalling highlights of the night. The Circle are so incredibly grateful to Annie, the audience and everyone who was involved in the running of this spectacular event.

You can listen to the full conversation now!

 

 


Cry Power Podcast

Listen below to catch Annie on the first episode of Hozier’s new podcast series Cry Power in partnership with our friends at Global Citizen. You can listen here!

The Cry Power podcast is hosted by Hozier in partnership with Global Citizen, talking to inspirational artists and activists about how to change the world. In its inaugural episode, Hozier talks with Annie Lennox about why feminism must be inclusive of men; how her personal story of activism is rooted in her family; and how music can make change happen. But it’s not all talk — you can join the Global Citizen movement and take action below to end gender inequality all over the world. Subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Acast now.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be part of ‘#CryPower’ – the brand new ‘Hozier – Global Citizen’ podcast in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Goal Number 5 (Gender Equality) represents the urgent need for transformation and empowerment in every aspect of the lives of millions of women and girls everywhere around the world. From education to protection against gender based abuse and violence. There is a desperate need for #GlobalFeminism everywhere!”

– Annie Lennox

In Global Citizen’s piece on the podcast, James Hitchings-Hales writes “The last time Annie Lennox met Hozier, they were rehearsing a duet together in a Los Angeles hotel room — without yet realising that their shared vision for the world around them stretched further than music.

Years later, the two are in a recording studio across central London, relaxing into a dark leather sofa. They’re talking about how art has often defined activism throughout history — in conversation for the first episode of the Cry Power podcast in partnership with Global Citizen.

“Music defines change,” Lennox says, later pointing to Childish Gambino’s This Is America as a music video that truly woke people up, a moment Hozier agrees is an “arresting piece of work.” He suggests that music can tell the truest stories about human experience: “It’s a real vehicle for the zeitgeist.”

Lennox and Hozier, now close friends, talk for over an hour. The topic: global feminism, pertaining to the fifth of the UN’s Global Goals — achieving gender equality to empower all women and girls. They touch on everything from education and HIV/AIDS, to #MeToo and gender violence. ”

Read the rest of the article here!

#GlobalFeminism


An Evening of Music and Conversation: in the Media

“Western feminists must wake up and realise that feminism is a global concept. We must change attitudes and behaviours when it comes to sexual abuse, domestic abuse, sexual violence and rape”

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us on 26 September for Annie Lennox: An Evening of Music and Conversation. We hope you had just as wonderful a time as we did!

You can read more about Annie’s event and how the concert is supporting some of the most disempowered women and girls around the world through the work of The Circle below:

“I am a resourced, wealthy, self-made woman. All I really want to do is enjoy my life and make the best of it. But I also want to make a contribution. I have really felt this passion. I never wanted to preach to people. It is a turn-off.”

Read the full article in The Scotsman that highlights some of Annie’s key messages from her performance and a run down of the evening!

Coverage of the concert was also covered in The Evening Times! You can find images of some attendees here.

#GlobalFeminism #WomenEmpowering