Rarely does a moment occur when, as an activist, I sense that seismic change might be in the air. This week will be one of those moments. I’m writing to say that we must seize it.
“I have spent years campaigning on social justice issues concerning the rights of women and girls. I feel driven by the conviction that it is essential to try, with the hope that with collective effort, things can be improved — while motivated by a combination of outrage and empathy .
But rarely does a moment occur when, as an activist, I sense that seismic change might be in the air. This week will be one of those moments. I’m writing to say that we must seize it.”
Annie Lennox calls on governments to take action against sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. You can read the full article here: Annies Lennox Times article 20 June
Our member Rashmi Dubé, Lawyer, Writer and Global Feminist, has written a blog post about our Member’s Annual Gathering last weekend!
The meeting was held at St. James Crypt in London, with speaker’s video calling from Calgary, Beirut and Uganda. This is only my second event with The Circle and I am excited for the day. .
As a lawyer and business owner, I am used to walking into rooms where most people are strangers – a veteran networker – but this feels different. The room is full of women and the energy feels electric. The room seems to vibrate, reverberating with energy as if to almost form a musical note. This is something new and unfamiliar to me, but at the same time it feels welcoming and comfortable. I am immediately at ease and say hello to a few familiar faces. The women are excited, each talking about what they are doing in their circles and wanting to help change. Even with small actions great change can be done. I am already on a high before I sit down.
Sioned opens the programme with a message I take to heart and will carry everyday – “just do it,” no matter how insignificant you think your act is. This very sentiment is later echoed by Eve Ensler.
Annie Lennox takes the stage, joined by Eve Ensler, an American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist best known for her play The Vagina Monologues.
The two speakers delve into conversation, debating the word ‘feminist’ and its connotations. Both have the united goal: to give women and girls a place where they don’t have to be resilient – they can just be, fighting for all women and their rights, equality for women and girls in a fairer world.
Annie pointed out that there are “So many gaps….divides and divisions…” that we need to come together and work together. She acknowledged that it is still “so difficult to use the word feminist…” I could see her point. There is an uneasiness around the word, much like there is around vagina, but should there be? Annie pointed out that the “concept of feminism is [associated] with man hating [and] this is really a big problem. But I genuinely think if men are not brought into the conversation, how we can have a dialogue and change attitudes? …. We must do this. If we don’t we will be in
combat…” . She is right. The more we come together as one community, the better the discussion. From my perspective, we need to empower men to become feminists or, at the very least, allies. The way we use words and “terminology makes things visible”. Annie went to on to say that “feminism must be for everyone” and at the moment “many men feel defensive, they feel attacked [and] you need dialogue [to overcome these issues]”.
Eve Ensler was on a similar message and wants us all to be change-makers, even if only in our small community. She spoke openly about the traumas of her own life and that when we as women effect change. She reminds us that in order to bring about change and make a difference to others you don’t need an army. She refers to the Castro quote “I began the revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.” She continued to say all “you have to [do is] believe, have faith in what you are doing in your circle [and]…don’t minimise it [in your mind]”
She then took me back by saying: “resilience. I don’t like that word why do they [speaking about the women in Congo being used as a tool of war and for control] … have to be resilient” She was questioning how they got into the position of having to be resilient in those circumstances in first place. The very definition of resilience is “1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.” My mind wondered back briefly to what Annie had said and the importance of terminology.
As the day closed, the take home for me was that I, one human being, can in my circle make a difference as a Global Feminist, have open dialogue with men and revisit the terminology we use with new eyes.
This article was written by Rashmi Dube, who is the Managing Director of Legatus Law, lawyer, author and freelance writer for the Yorkshire Post. She is a Global feminist changing attitudes through the written word and legislation a ripple at a time.
This International Women’s Day, Annie Lennox took part in a panel of change-makers and activists including Adwoa Aboah, founder of Gurls Talk, an open community where young girls can talk about the issues that matter to them; Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London; Chrisann Jarrett, Founder of Let us Learn; and Angeline Murimirwa, Executive Director of the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in Africa and co-founder of CAMA, a pan-African network of young female leaders. The purpose of the panel was to discuss some of the challenges that women and girls still face today, but also to explore some solutions to these issues.
“It was fantastic to take part in yesterday’s panel for the Queen’s Commonwealth trust. The discussion was invigorating and inspiring and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to present the case for everyone to start using and identifying with the term ‘Global Feminism’. The trust exists to champion, fund and connect young leaders around the world and is now presided over by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex together. Thrilled to hear the Duchess personally describe herself as a Global Feminist!”
– Anne Lennox
The panel discussed the issue of girl’s education, sharing the statistic that for every year more of education a girl receives, she will increase her lifetime earnings by 25%. The panel opened the floor to questions, the first of which was from Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, who brought up the inequalities surrounding menstrual wellbeing.
Many of the members of the panel, considered how to involve boys and men in the conversation. Each expressed the sentiment that the progress of feminism cannot proceed without their support. Suggestions such as changing our understanding of masculinity, starting an open dialogue and ‘shining light on the invisible man’ were offered. Adwoa Aboah, described the work that Gurls Talk are doing to include men in their feminist space, stating that half of all Gurls Talk members are men.
The conversation continued to come back to the term Global Feminism. It has been the mission of Annie Lennox and The Circle to get the term into the zeitgeist as an inclusive term to acknowledge the disparity between the right’s that we enjoy in comparison to women across the globe who are denied them. 1 in 3 women will experience sexual and physical violence in their lifetime, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence isn’t a crime.The panel was a crucial part of doing so.
‘It is about Global Feminism, it is about equality and parity for all of us’.
– HRH The Duchess of Sussex
We even managed to some of the panelists to share their #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist. Lets continue the success of International Women’s Day 2019 and keep getting the Global Feminism word out there!
This was a truly inspirational panel that we were very grateful to be a part of. We want to thank all the panelists for their endorsement of Global Feminism and hope that by International Women’s Day 2020, we will be one step closer to achieving a fairer world for all women and girls.
“I was in a department store, and I saw a T-shirt that had Wonder Woman on it,” Annie Lennox says of the moment that inspired her latest campaign. It was the summer of 2018, and the music icon was trying to figure out how to take the mission of the Circle, the international women’s-rights non-governmental organization she founded in 2008, to the next level.“I looked at the T-shirts and I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, what if Wonder Woman could connect everyday women and men to the facts about the gender inequality experienced by millions of girls and women every day around the globe?’ So I bought the T-shirt, took it home, and put it on. Then I wrote a list of facts and statistics on sheets of drawing paper and had a series of pictures taken for Instagram of myself holding up the messaging.”The result: #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist, a social-media hashtag campaign promoting Lennox’s message.
Annie Lennox is the special guest on this episode of The 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.”
Facts and Actions are offered by Sioned Jones, Executive Director of The Circle, the organisation founded by Annie Lennox. You will also hear about the Index of Women Entrepreneurs created by our sponsor MasterCard. Listen now!
Edie Lush, Producer of Global GoalsCast, has told us a little bit about how podcast came about and her collaboration with The Circle:
“I started the Global GoalsCast with my co-host Claudia Romo Edelman two years ago after we met in Davos. We were introduced by Stan Stalnaker, the founder of Hub Culture where I am Executive Editor. The podcast was Stan’s idea! I’m a journalist and communication trainer and Claudia is a development specialist with many years at the United Nations. I was hugely excited to win an award last year from the UN for the podcast.
My goal is to tell you the stories of one of the most remarkable combined efforts in human history. 193 nations have set goals for 11 years from now, ranging from ending extreme poverty to fighting climate change and making the world a better place. Claudia and I have made the Global GoalsCast the place where you come to find the stories of the people who are ticking off the tasks on the world’s to do list.
I love this collaboration with The Circle because The Global GoalsCast is biased towards women both in our organisational structure and the stories we feature. We’ve had some cracking episodes – let me tell you about some of the women we’ve featured:
In the Revolutionary Power of Food, we featured Charity Mulengu, a 32-year old widowed mother of two who is a market trader in Zambia who is using an ‘eBay for Farmers’ to sell produce to help feed her family. Before the app enabled her to advertise and sell her crops, she would haul as much as 550 pounds of produce to a market in the hope of finding people who wanted to buy it. It was expensie and time-consuming – she had to leave her children with her mother to travel. ‘Now I can communicate direct with the farmer,’ she said ‘we agree on the thing which I want. For example, if I want five bags of cowpeas. I will communicate with the farmr .. Then the farmer can send those five bags to me.’
In They Are the Code we featured Senegalese activist and businesswoman Mariéme Jamme who is a living example of how technology can help elevate young women out of dire situations. Raped by a teacher at the age of 11 years old, Jamme was trafficked from her native Senegal to France at age 13 and sold into prostitution. Two years later, French police picked her off the streets. She ended up in the U.K, where she began her education. She told me that ‘I was starting my alphabet when I was 16’. Jamme came to prominence and found activism when she wrote an open and critical blog to Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof and U2 frontman Bono criticizing the way Africa was being portrayed in materials related to the famous concert’s 25th Anniversary. That led to her being tapped for advice on how to represent African women and girls in the media and bring balance to coverage of the continent. Mariéme wanted to be more than just a voice and an adviser. She wanted to give more women and girls the ability to speak for themselves. Her movement, I am the Code, brings girls together to learn life skills and equip them with the technology to do something about it.
In Comedy Can Do More Than Make Us Laugh, we featured three female comedians who are using comedy to break stereotypes. One of the comics we featured is Noam Shuster, an Israeli woman. Noam’s father is a Romanion Jew and her mother was born in Iran, which makes her background a unique cultural hybrid. After what she considers a failed sting in a peace organisation, Noam turned to comedy and found that her heritage allowed her a special way in. She said ‘one of the places that comedy has brought me is to be the first Jewish performer in a Palestinian comedy festival. There were two guys who are sitting in the front row looking at me, like, what is this Jew going to tell us, you know? So I walk on stage and I’m thinking, how am I going to break the ice? Like what? It’s a crowd of 300 Palestinians. So I walk in on stage and I look and them and I tell them ‘Habibi, relax. I’m only here for seven minutes, not 70 years’.
Look out of more episodes of this incredible podcast!
As the women’s rights movement pushes forward, internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, performer and Human Rights activist Annie Lennox and the NGO she founded, The Circle, have partnered with Apple Music for a Global International Women’s Day initiative launched today.
Together with Sammy Andrews and her team at Deviate Digital, they have created a short film in support of Global Feminism, an umbrella term inclusive of all approaches to women’s equality.
To help her, Annie has drawn support from some of the biggest names in music, film and beyond, including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Richard E Grant, Emeli Sande, Hozier, Richa Chadha, Eddie Izzard, Gwendoline Christie, Farhan Akhtar, Beverley Knight and Mary J Blige. Watch and share the short film below:
While we celebrate and acknowledge the advancement in women rights over the past 100 years, we must make sure it’s inclusive for all. The short film aims to highlight the injustices still experienced by millions of women and girls the world over – from misogyny, rape and violence to pay disparity.
Every woman and girl, no matter where they live, no matter the colour their skin, no matter what religious faith, no matter what – MUST have access to the same basic human rights. Global Feminists believe in equality of rights, with empowerment and justice made available for every woman and girl in every corner of the world.
Annie Lennox:“Disempowerment creates an appalling way of life for millions of women and girls around the world. While physical or sexual violence affects one in three women, and two thirds of the world’s 757 million adults who cannot read or write are women … these are only two on a long list of disparity and injustice. We cannot ignore the fact that feminism must have a global reach.”
“At a time when there seems to be so much polarity and division in the world, the term ‘global feminism’ offers an opportunity for people from every walk of life, colour of skin, gender or sexual orientation to understand and identify with the bigger global picture. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of human rights, justice and equality for women and girls everywhere in the world, especially in countries where they are not even near the lowest rung of the ladder.”
Rachel Newman (Apple Music Global Head of Editorial): “Annie Lennox is not only one of the most prolific women in music, but one of the most dedicated and passionate women’s rights advocates of our time. Her efforts to better this world are truly inspiring and her impact is undeniable. This International Women’s Day we are thrilled and honored to support this incredible artist and share her message of #globalfeminism with our global audience.”
Sioned Jones (Executive Director, The Circle): “Global Feminism is at the heart of what we do as we strive for a more equal and fairer world for women and girls. On this International Women’s Day having a chance to remind us all of the huge inequalities and injustices that remain for millions of women and girls across the globe is important in ensuring no one is left behind in being able to realise their basic human rights. We thank Annie, Apple Music and all the contributors who have given up their time and support to this film and we all stand together as Global Feminists.”
Share your own #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist on social media and tag @thecirclengo and Annie Lennox!
Annie Lennox receives the Icon Award at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards. The audience were so inspired by her acceptance speech that Stylist have written an article about it:
“Annie Lennox is absolutely an icon. And, at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2019, Keeley Hawes – aka Julia Montague from BBC One’s Bodyguard – stepped up to present the musician and activist with the prestigious Icon Award.
Noting that Lennox won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the early Seventies and, as one half of The Eurythmics, became one of the most loved British artists around the world, Hawes went on to inform the star-studded audience at London’s Rosewood Hotel that “it’s not Lennox’s music that makes her our winner tonight… although it is worthy of such an honour.”
Rather, “it is the way that she has used her status and platform to help so many other people, especially women,” continued Hawes.”
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