The Asian Circle celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) at the European premiere of Chalk n Duster, a film starring Shabana Azmi. With this year’s IWD theme of Be Bold for Change, we turned to Chalk n Duster, its fascinating story and an all-star cast, to learn about the commercialisation of the Indian private education system.
The film was screened to a full house at the Regent Street Cinema, in London, on 11 March 2017. The event was organised by Tongues on Fire in partnership with The Asian Circle.
Legendary actress and social and women’s rights activist Shabana Azmi made a special guest appearance to meet the audience and talk about the film. On the topic of International Women’s Day, Shabana said: ‘We live in a patriarchal society and we need to still do a lot more to change attitudes. Men and women are different. Not better or worse. Just different. In the UK charities like The Asian Circle are doing very good work but if all such charities could work as one that would be tremendous’.
The event was organised as part of the London Asian Film Festival, an independent film and arts festival organised by Tongues on Fire that has been showcasing South Asian films since 1999. Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, Director and Founder of Tongues on Fire and the London Asian Film Festival, and a member of The Asian Circle Executive Board, said that ‘Tongues on Fire champions the rights of Asian women and celebrates South Asian culture’.
The Asian Circle hosted its first Summer Networking Party on 22 July 2016 at the luxurious restaurant Bangalore Express in the City of London. The event was an opportunity to bring The Asian Circle members together to enjoy the evening and fundraise for a good cause.
It was a wonderful evening with networking over the finest Indian cuisine in the City, henna artists, live DJs, guest speakers and raffle prizes. All profits from the evening went towards supporting The Asian Circle’s project in partnership with Oxfam India. The project is working to raise awareness about violence against women in rural communities in eastern India and is building a support centre for survivors in the region of Chhattisgarh.
Guests included Judge Sujata Sharma, a firm supporter of women’s rights and winner of the Outstanding Women in Construction Law award (WICE Awards, 2016) and the Commercial/Civil Lawyer of the Year award (the Society of Asian Lawyers,2015); Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, founder and Director of the London Asian Film Festival; Taryn Khanam, founder of BritBangla; Sadhia Hussain BEM, an activist for Bengali women’s rights, and many more high-profile professionals.
Guest speakers included Oxfam’s Sarah Ireland, who shared her views about gender equality and what is left to do to achieve it. Henna Rai, a social activist, inspired everyone with her words: ‘As I passionately campaign on women’s issues, I’m extremely pleased to be supporting The Asian Circle. Gender inequality is close to my heart; by sharing my experiences I strive to attain greater empowerment for women.’
The Asian Circle is part of the The Circle, a charity founded by Annie Lennox. The aim of The Asian Circle is to end violence against women and raise awareness about gender inequality and how it impacts women in South Asia. The Asian Circle is currently working in the tribal Adivasi communities in east India to challenge the social acceptance of sexual and domestic violence against women, set up support centres for survivors in police stations and provide counselling and legal advice.
Dr Santosh Bhanot, founder and chair of The Asian Circle and Asian Women of Achievement nominee, opened the event by updating everyone on the project. ‘Since its launch, The Asian Circle has striven to support ground-breaking work with Oxfam to transform the lives of women and communities in South Asia,’ Dr Bhanot said on the night. ‘We are delighted to see the positive impact the programme is having with the Adivasi women in India and hope to replicate this project [in] other South Asian countries. It is vital that we tackle violence against women and girls by engaging support with the communities, police and judiciary, who in this instance are all playing an active role. It is with huge recognition that the Ending Violence against Women project in Chhattisgarh has received the State-level honour Nari Shakti Samman for the initiative.
About The Asian Circle
The Asian Circle is a sub-branch of The Circle formed by British Asian women from diverse backgrounds. Its goal is to support vulnerable women in South Asia by raising awareness about their plight and raising vital funds to set up support centres for survivors.
The Asian Circle connects passionate women in the UK that volunteer their time, skills and resources to support Oxfam projects.
The Asian Circle believes that, given the rights resources, women hold the key to overcome poverty and create lasting change for themselves and their communities.
The one-night-only exhibition by The Oxford Circle brought together pieces from a collection of Oxfordshire-based artists to raise funds for an Oxfam education project to support 18 schools and their students in rural communities in Niger. All proceeds were donated to the project.
The works of a number of acclaimed Oxfordshire artists were available to purchase at the exhibition, including pieces by Jennifer Newman, Richard Fox, Rachel Owen, Kieran Stiles, Clare Bassett, Neil Dury, Wendy Newhoffer, Jane Strother, Flora McLachlan, Helen Slater and the exhibition curator Rachel Ducker.
Rachel Ducker, a member of The Oxford Circle, said on the night that ‘Oxfordshire is a place of huge creativity, and this exhibition gives The Oxford Circle an opportunity to not only harness the work of artists to support Oxfam’s campaign, but also to showcase the talents of local sculptors, painters, and screen printers’.
The Oxford Circle is part of The Circle, an international organisation established by singer-songwriter and activist Annie Lennox in 2008 to champion women’s rights and equality. It is an association of women from all walks of life who work collectively to support and empower women and girls living in poverty.
Founder Annie Lennox said ‘The Oxford Circle’s art event is a great example of The Circle’s ethos and spirit in action; using their skills and resources to create inspirational and innovative ways to transform the lives of women in developing countries’.