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
Photo Credit: The Asian Circle Chai Day and 5th Anniversary
“The Asian Circle celebrated its fifth birthday with a ‘Chai Day’ at The Lalit Hotel in Central London on Sunday 18th November 2018. The Asian Circle ‘Chai Day’, hosted by narrative story teller Seema Anand, also saw Great British Bake Off (GBBO) star Rav Bansal, bake a spectacular cake for the occasion which was served with masala chai and Indian savoury dishes. Asian Circle founder Santosh Bhanot provided an update on their fight for gender equality with 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.”
Annie Lennox On Why We Should All Be Identifying As Global Feminists
“An activist is about being an impatient person, with a lot of patience,” Annie Lennox tells me over the phone. She sounds pleased at the end of the sentence, letting out a two syllable laugh – “ah ha” – because it’s such a good sentence. Of course it is, it’s Annie Lennox, widely regarded as one of the best songwriters of all time, winner of six Brit awards for Best Female Artist, four Grammys and an Oscar for Best Song.”
“When I can channel my distress into action, I feel better, I feel so inspired”, she tells me in relation to her humanitarian work, which is vast, earning her the Woman of Peace Award at the 2009 Nobel Peace Laureates summit and an OBE in 2011, a year after she became a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS. Annie cites a 2003 trip to South Africa – where she spent time with Nelson Mandela, performed in the launch concert for his HIV/AIDS foundation and visited families and orphanages devastated by AIDS – as the point of no return. That was the moment she leapt up. “It was a life changing experience,” she writes on The Circle’s website. “My encounters woke me up to a multitude of stark realities regarding the contrasting way of life between Western nations and the so called developing world.” The stark contrast between life for women in these countries and life in the privileged West still plagues her – “every day,” she says. “I do become despairing from time to time because I think, ‘This is too big, there’s nothing I can do’. But there is something I can do. And I’m doing it. I’m dedicating my time, my passion and my platform to whatever I can do to make a contribution to the global women’s movement. That’s what I can do as an individual.”
Annie Lennox addresses the crowd at the Academy Women’s Initiative LA event in West Hollywood on October 30.
‘It was and still is, profoundly distressing to know that the world at large didn’t seem to be aware, or particularly care about the scale of the appalling tragedy that was taking place in terms of girls and women’s health … Women are, after all, half the world’
“Two years ago, I received a photograph from a fellow feminist advocate who had just walked past a London newsagent’s stand and noticed that every single women’s magazine had the previously unmentionable “f word” displayed on its front cover. Evidence, if we needed it, that awareness was rising and progress was moving towards the zeitgeist again.
The feminist movement is and has always been a broad church, with different interpretations, opinions and ideas. But today, thanks to #MeToo, Times Up and the women’s march movements, feminism has re-emerged from the closet and is gaining profile and popularity.
From my perspective, however, there is still work to do. Feminism needs to be understood and appreciated, not only in the west, but where women’s needs are greatest – in places and countries where women and girls are not even near the lowest rung of the human rights ladder….”
Pop star turned soul diva turned international campaigner. In recent times we have seen Annie Lennox mostly in that last role, and so think of her as a highly serious, passionate and intense person.
The revelation of this evening was to discover that she is genuinely funny, warm, engaging and effortlessly charismatic.
The occasion was a fund-raiser for Lennox’s charity, The Circle, which aims to empower disempowered women across the globe. Interviewed by the broadcaster Jo Whiley, she went through her life and career, aided by screen projections of her right from a baby, through school, with parents and grandparents, outside the Aberdeen tenement building, with no bathroom, where she grew up, through to the years of fame and success…
A gig by Annie Lennox now comes along less often than a change of government.
Her last full concert in Britain took place in the age of Gordon Brown. Back in the John Major era, in 1995, I wrote a profile of her and tagged along for an entire world tour, which amounted to two shows in New York and one in a Polish forest.
So this is an event: ‘an evening of music and conversation’ in aid of The Circle, the NGO Lennox founded to boost women’s rights around the world…
at college, pop icon annie lennox was told to become a teacher
The former Eurythmics star, who has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, tells i-D about dropping out of college, the wisdom of ageing, and her women-focused charity The Circle in her Notes on Being a Woman.
It’s not easy to get an interview with Annie Lennox. A globally recognised pop legend, famous for massive hits like 1983’s Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) with former band the Eurythmics — as well as her iconic, androgynous bright red buzzcut — Annie doesn’t often perform these days, and turns down most interview requests. Having moved away from making music, she is now an activist and campaigner for the rights of women and girls around the world, through her NGO The Circle
i-D caught up with Annie and she told us about leaving Aberdeen at 17 to apply for music college in London in 1971, and the bad career advice she was given before dropping out in her third year. From learning to drive in her 30s, to the heart-bursting love of motherhood, the wrinkle-loving wisdom of age, and the struggle of women around the world who cannot access education and healthcare, these are Annie’s Notes on Being a Woman…
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…
“Our honorary awardees are icons of social and environmental commitment”, says Stefan Schulze-Hausmann, founder of the award. “They promote the idea of sustainability by reaching out to people’s hearts. Among them, Annie Lennox plays an extraordinary role; her commitment and passion are simply unique.”
Founded in 2008, The National German Sustainability Award aims to “encourage the acceptance of social and ecological responsibility and to identify role models in this area”. The awards are presented each year by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel or other members of her cabinet.
For more than 25 years Annie has devoted herself intensively to the fight against HIV/AIDS and to support the most disempowered women and girls around the world with The Circle, which she founded in 2008.
Ten years after her first visit to the National German Sustainability Award, she will receive the Anniversary Award, a golden edition of this prestigious prize.
Annie will donate the proceeds from the award to The Circle, to continue supporting thousands of women and girls access education, fair wages and economic empowerment, and to help end gender-based violence. Thank you to the National German Sustainability Award for their generosity.