How I’ll Be a Better Feminist in 2019

Photo Credit: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, 2014.

This month we are opening up our blog to our members. Rosie writes about her feminist New Year’s resolutions for the coming year!

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I think that reading about feminism is the best way to become a better Global Feminist. It allows you to understand the viewpoints of other women from around the world and is also a great way to keep up to date on current discussions surrounding contemporary women’s rights. On my reading list for this year are ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies’ by Scarlett Curtis, ‘Why We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‎, ‘I am Malala’ Malala Yousafzai and ‘Eve Was Shamed’ by Helena Kennedy. I think that is an important gateway into the experiences of women from different cultures and backgrounds to my own. I believe that these different perspectives further encourage me to become a truly Global Feminist. These texts are written by women who write from a number of different viewpoints, either having experienced different modes sexism or misogyny themselves, or their professions such as journalists have led them to discover the stories of women who may not have the platform to share their own experiences.

Ensure that my feminism is intersectional

All sexism and misogyny is deplorable and all women’s experiences matter. I recognize that my experience does not reflect the whole spectrum of oppression faced by women around the world and I want to be an ally for all women. For those experiencing forced marriage or FGM, for the women that have been trafficked for sex or have been failed by the law after suffering rape or sexual assault, those who are unable to access a safe and legal abortion, and others who have to give birth in dangerous conditions. It is for these women that I vow to support. Global Feminism is about all women coming together and sharing cultures and experience, it encourages us to understand inequalities and oppression on a global scale.

Put my money where my mouth is

I love clothes and I love fashion, but I also plan to find out more about the inequalities rife within the garment sector. I know that 80% of garment workers are women and that they often work in unsafe conditions for long hours with little pay and fewer labour laws. This also puts them at risk of sexual harassment from their bosses and in a lot of instances maternity leave is limited to non-existent. This year, I really want to make sure as many of my clothes as possible are made in an ethical way, even if this means buying less. I will commit to learning more about sweatshop free brands to make sure my purchasing decisions don’t enslave the women making my clothes.

Educate friends and family

This year, I want to educate my friends and family about Global Feminism at every chance I get. I find that many men don’t engage in feminism and are not always aware of their privilege. This mindset also applies to women who are purely interested in Western feminism, to those who will happily wear a ‘Girl Power’ shirt without considering the plight of the woman who made it. Taking the opportunity to talk to these men and women in your life is an opportunity to communicate the values Global Feminism and some of the shocking statistics that quantify the level of inequality across the globe. Speaking to friends and family is also a good way of communicating an accurate definition of feminism and what that entails. I know men who admit that they were hesitant to support the feminist cause because they believed that the movement was rooted in a hatred of men. This year I want to spread the word by inviting my friends to watch feminist films, lending them books and recommending podcasts.

Empower other women

Every day I want to try and take little actions that help other women. This means that I won’t wait until the next big protest or social media hashtag to assert my feminism, but I will support women at every chance I get. I resolve to make space for my female colleagues to speak in work meetings, to back up their ideas and to make sure they get the credit. I will help women who are being harassed in a bar or on the street and call out sexist comments. I already call out everyday sexism in my social circle, but 2019 will be the year that I take this further – to work, to the street and online.

Network with like-minded women

In 2019, I want to connect more with other global feminists. I have a bit of a fear of networking situations, so I also want to take every opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. I also believe that I could learn a lot from the perspectives of others, which in turn will make me a better feminist. Types of networking I would love to take part in includes charity events, social media, feminist book clubs and debates. I would also like to volunteer with charities that support women globally so I can learn more about how I can help other women.

Be kinder to all my sisters

The world is harsh enough on women already so we should all be making the effort to empower each other. We need to support one another to make real change. We don’t need to be complicit in unrealistic beauty standards by judging each other on what we wear or how much we weigh. Nor should we be shaming other women for their sexuality, career or lifestyle choices. Stick up for your sisters in 2019!

This article was written by Rosie Greenfield, member of The Circle.

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #WidenYourCircle #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Laura

“We are often led to believe that there is only space and resources for a few of us and that whatever other women get will be taken from us”

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Laura is a set and costume designer with a background in fashion. The inequalities present in the fashion industry are incredibly important to her and she is currently trying to engage more people in the complex matters that surround it.

Why did you decide to become a member?

I had heard about the work of The Lawyers Circle on the Living Wage Report and I was interested in the organization, but what really made up my mind was finding myself at an event in this room full of women who had come together because they wanted to help change things. I left full of inspiration, motivation and energy.

What does The Circle mantra “women empowering women” means to you?

For me, it’s a reminder that we should always try to be other women’s first supporters. We are often led to believe that there is only space and resources for a few of us and that whatever other women get will be taken from us. However, I am convinced that helping others succeed also facilitates our own achievements.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?

It has allowed me to meet women with innovative and exciting ideas that I may have never have done. It has given me a chance to connect with women who work in different industries from mine, have different connections and with whom I have been able to start projects that are important to me. At The Circle I have found a great community that has helped me to become a more active citizen.

Can you tell us what project is important to you and your circle and why?

The Fashion Circle is reshaping at the moment, which I guess is a great opportunity to start exciting new projects. The issue of a Living Wage in the Fashion industry is still very important to me. This is why I organised a Chai Day in December with another member, Lydia, in which we talked about the idea of the Living wage and the difference it could make in the life of female garment workers. We encouraged our guests to be curious, to ask questions about the issues of the fashion industry, and to act to change them.

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Mabel

We must support and empower each other, otherwise we will constantly be fighting against a system that is designed for us to fail

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Mabel is a documentary film maker who also co-founded The Vavengers, a charity that holds music and poetry nights, exhibitions and plays to raise money for the survivors of Female Genital Mutilation and the clinics and organisations that they run. In 2015 they launched the UK’s first ever anti-FGM billboards. They are now working to engage the creative community to raise awareness and funds, improve data collection and ultimately stop women and girls being cut.

Why did you decide to become a member?

I decided to become a member of The Circle because I don’t think we as Western women take enough time to consider the experience of women globally. Often, we inhabit our own bubble and assume that most women enjoy the privileges we have. The Circle is actively trying to tackle this by supporting grassroots projects globally. That is why I want to be a member.  

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?

The mantra Women Empowering Women is at the core of my belief system with regards to tackling gender-based violence. We must support and empower each other, otherwise we will constantly be fighting against a system that is designed for us to fail. It’s the women who have infiltrated this system that have the chance to empower those who have been stripped of their voices.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?

The Circle has given me a lot of insight into areas of inequality that I rather embarrassingly had not considered, for example, fast fashion.  Attending The Circle events has really opened my eyes to the problems around fast fashion. The events have been a source of both information and inspiration. I have also connected with many exceptional like-minded women at these events.

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Katie

Photo credit: Fluid4Sight. Katie with singer Gill Manly at their Chai Day event in November

Women have an amazing capacity to forge immensely nourishing, deep, powerful bonds with each other – and when we harness that it becomes a force for change.

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Katie Rose is a new member of The Circle who has already been involved in our Chai Day fundraising initiative. Katie is a musician who is a ‘daily witness the profound wellbeing benefits of singing in my work. Working with choirs has taught me that we can join our diverse voices together to create a beauty, peace and strength that can change the world’. She leads choirs in community settings including hospitals, hospices, carers centres and co-directs Sing for Water, an annual mass choral fundraiser for WaterAid at Totally Thames.

Why did you decide to become a member of The Circle?
I joined after hearing Annie’s inspiring speech at the Women’s Day March 2018

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?
Ultimately it means busting through the patriarchal conditioning that oppresses and divides women.  Women have an amazing capacity to forge immensely nourishing, deep, powerful bonds with each other – and when we harness that it becomes a force for change.  I am continually uplifted, inspired and moved by my exchanges, discussions, friendships and collaborations with women.  Cherishing these individual bonds and widening them out to include and collaborate with other women is what we do naturally, when we have space to flourish – so the image of the ever-widening circle is so resonant and for me represents how we can build a non-hierarchical, mutually supportive movement.  We can each bring whatever platform, voice, influence, gifts, talents or resources we have available to support the cause of women worldwide – even just a tiny drop of rain can create a ripple in the ocean.  I want to help smash the glass ceilings of my generation to create freedom for the girls and women of the future.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?
It is that sense of not being alone, of being connected to a wider movement. I was brought up by a feminist and will remain a feminist until women no longer face oppression.  It is so good to be amongst strong, talented, inspiring women who have their own understanding of what being a feminist means and to stand in solidarity, honouring our unique perspectives and the diversity of the needs and issues facing women around the world.

Can you tell us about what project is important to you and your circle, and why?
I’m quite new to The Circle so am still finding out about all the projects and circles. As a singer, I am committed to creating arts events that contribute to raising funds and awareness with leading female artists in my community –  we hosted a Chai Day in November and hope to run a Women’s Day event in March.

Find out more about Katie’s work here!

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle member Jo

Member of The Circle, Jo Nevin. 

“I have always been aware that we need to think about intersectionality when we discuss the issues that women face, but The Circle has really challenged me to have that conversation with other people and, perhaps most importantly, challenged me to have that conversation with myself”

This month, as part of Widen Your Circle, we have spoken to a number of our members about their involvement with The Circle and what it means to be a member!

Jodie Nevin is a member of The Lawyer’s Circle, that are currently working on a strategy to allow those within The Circle to be able to undertake more pro bono work. Jodie describes herself as ‘incredibly privileged’ to be a lawyer as she is able to provide free legal advice and representation which is often the only means of obtaining access to justice for those who are unable to pay and are not eligible for public funding. She states that The Lawyers Circle believes that access to legal advice should not be the privilege of the most advantaged in society, and that ‘we are excited to utilise our collective knowledge to provide even more free legal advice to disempowered women and girls across the globe.’

Why did you decide to become a member of The Circle?

I’ve always enjoyed being an active member of groups that aim to promote – and protect – the rights of women, but I felt as though I wanted to join a group that had a more global outlook. I loved the idea that you have this incredible force of women in The Circle, but to make it work you have pockets of passionate women in the smaller Circles who are given the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals to create something effective and meaningful.

What does The Circle’s mantra of #WomenEmpoweringWomen mean to you?

It’s interesting because sometimes you look back at moments in your life and you are able to identify experiences that have shaped who you are as a person. I have absolutely no doubt that the reason I feel so passionate about #WomenEmpoweringWomen is because I was lucky enough to have an absolute powerhouse of a friend at an early age – a friend who supported me, acted as my biggest cheerleader and empowered me to be the person I am today. Without knowing it, we had created our own circle of sisterhood, and that circle protected us from whatever the world was throwing at us. She empowers me, and I empower her – and because of that, we are able to empower others.

For me, #WomenEmpoweringWomen means striving to ensure that every woman experiences that incredible power of sisterhood.

What impact has The Circle had on your life?

It has encouraged me to think about feminism globally. I have always been aware that we need to think about intersectionality when we discuss the issues that women face, but The Circle has really challenged me to have that conversation with other people and, perhaps most importantly, challenged me to have that conversation with myself.

To check out The Lawyers Circle’s current projects on the Living Wage and Maternal Health rights click here!

#WidenYourCircle #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


The Stand Up Movement in Sri Lanka

Our member Dushy has co-written a blog post about Ashila Dandeniya, an inspiring woman working for the rights of garment sector employees, and The Stand Up Movement in Sri Lanka.

Founder’s story

Ashila Dandeniya’s was first exposed to Katunayake Industrial Zone soon after finishing school. Her first job was as a Quality Checker for a top garment factory. Ashila’s position was unfairly terminated as a result of a conflict, however, with the support of Right 2 Life Human Rights Centre, she represented herself at the Labour Tribunal at the age of 22 and was offered a settlement amount of 1 year’s salary. This was the beginning of her activist journey to fight for the rights of garment workers in Sri Lanka.

Although she returned to work in another garment factory, before long she left to become a part of ALARM, a subsidiary of Oxfam which worked on projects involving labour rights. She worked as a programme coordinator for 5 years on projects concerning living wage, living condition, and freedom of association. By the end of ALARM assignment, Ashila had experience, expertise, and support among fellow workers in the garment industry. So, with just 12 members, Ashila initiated The Standup Movement to continue the work she’s passionate about.

The Stand Up Movement

The purpose of SUM is to educate the workers in the importance of taking initiative and taking on leadership roles in the factories, to be involved in their worker’s rights and to provide a safe space for the workers to discuss their problems.
In the beginning, SUM focused mainly on creating a dialogue with garment sector workers to understand their concerns and expectations. It emerged out of discussions that workers desired to watch films, an activity banned in most boarding houses due to the electricity usage, as an opportunity to engage with one another. SUM began organizing film screenings which gave SUM the chance to build relationships with workers, gain an insight into their lives and further understand the challenges that they faced.

SUM continued to grow and increase its membership by continuing to hold events for the garment sector workers including a cross-factory cricket tournament between 32 teams that went on for 3 months. It was entirely funded by the workers and resulted in SUM welcoming 250 new members. For a small fee, membership entails donations for the funerals of two family members and access to emergency loans.

Man Sandhi

In 2009, SUM, with the support of Rights Now published ‘Man Sandhi’, a book that included 15 case studies (out of 78 case studies conducted) on how the withdrawal of GSP Plus impacted workers with salary cuts, meal reductions, and the limitation of other essential facilities and provisions factories.
SUM launched the book in the presence of factory owners, international media, NGOs, and workers from various factories to great success. The entire event was organized by the members of SUM and the book written by Ashila herself. As the first publication that discussed the issues from the perspective of the workers, this was a huge step for those in the sector. The acclaim that Ashila received from this publication also continues to raise awareness.

The vision

The vision of SUM is to build a new concept trade union that deviate from traditional methods; a trade union that truly stands for the social security of workers.
SUM believes that traditional trade union methods are presently ineffective, from language and colours they use to strategies they employ to communicate to workers. SUM aims to take a fresh approach in order to achieve a higher participation and is proud of its members who have gone on to take leadership in the field of workers’ rights in their respective factories.

Some of the main challenges that workers face as identified by SUM

– Minimum wage not covering the living wage and the factories justifying this with overtime and incentives.
– Sexual harrassment
– ‘Hidden Cost’— workers doing overtime and not having time for social participation resulting in poor social dignity.
– Working without drinking water, not going to the toilet, and not taking full breaks so that they can achieve targets and make more money.
– Poor diet and as a result suffering from nutritional deficiencies such as Anemia.
– Language and communication problems faced by workers recruited from North and East parts of the island.
– Poor condition of the boarding houses without proper facilities.
– Break-ins at boarding houses.
– Being cheated by vendors.
– Workers consider this as a short term job and therefore less commitment to stand up for rights and make a change.
– Society’s negative attitude towards the factory workers and a general lack of respect from the community.

These issues are incredible damaging to garment sector workers.

Recently, a 23 year-old Tamil speaking female worker committed suicide inside a boarding house on 17th of September after just 3 months of working at the zone. No motive has been identified although the matter has been already closed and declared unsuspicious.

SUM believes that it is important to understand how safe the zone is for these workers who leave their families behind to come and survive on their own. Furthermore, it is vital to understand the necessity of providing a solid support system to the workers to overcome both personal as well as work-related challenges.

Ashila will be speaking at a screening of Made in Sri Lanka happening on 4th January in Colombo, at which she will be discussing SUM’s progress and current projects. Get in contact to find out more details of the event!

This article was written by member of The Circle, Dushy Rabinath and Shyama Basnayaka. Dushy lives and works in Colombo and is passionate about the rights of women.

Photo credit: Dushy and her family in Sri Lanka

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Chai Day with a Twist!

 

One of our members, Laura Fontana, is hosting a Chai Day on 8th December. This innovative event will tie together two of The Circle’s key foci; ending violence against women and working towards the Living Wage. Laura is very interested in the issues surrounding fast fashion and the absence of a Living Wage and the resulting discriminations and violences against the mainly female workforce throughout the fashion supply chain and wanted to tie in her interests with our fundraising event, Chai Day.

Laura, and another member of The Circle, Lydia will be hosting their Chai Day in Chiswick and as part of their event there will be a repair café for guests to take their much-loved items in need of some TLC. Alongside the traditional tea and cake and repair café, Alicia Grunert will be speaking on the Living Wage for garment workers.

Laura said she wanted to incorporate this aspect into Chai Day because she wanted to “give our guests a better understanding of what the idea of a Living wage entails, why it is so crucial, especially in the fashion industry, what difference it could make in the life of female garment workers and how it could help solve some of the issues and discriminations found in the fashion supply chain. Our hope is that this gathering will encourage them to be curious and learn more about the issues of the fashion industry, to ask questions and do something to change it, starting with their own wardrobe and purchasing habits.”

Both our members want you to join them at their event because it’s an “opportunity to get involved in the work the Circle does and the perfect occasion to start important conversations in a safe and welcoming environment, which can help people to be more receptive and engaged with the subject. The context of Chai Day offers the perfect environment to get everyone together around a cup of tea and sensibilise people to these important and complex issues.”

If you would like to get involved in Laura and Lydia’s Chai Day then get in touch for more details. It promises to be an amazing day to both support the victims of gender-based violence and an opportunity to learn more about some pressing issues.

 

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


The Asian Circle Chai Day in the New Asian Post

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.”

Read the full article here!

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


The Asian Circle’s 5th Anniversary

Congratulations to The Asian Circle for turning five!

The Asian Circle are celebrating their 5th anniversary, an achievement that shows their devotion and dedication to fighting against the inequality of women and girls. Founded by Santosh Bhanot in 2013, The Asian Circle have become an established group of women who tirelessly fundraise for the projects close to their hearts.

Santosh describes The Asian Circle as “a passionate community of diverse women who want to support women and girls that haven’t been given the same opportunities in life in South Asia”.

 

Their 5th Anniversary celebration commemorates their efforts over the years which have been particularly impactful in rural areas of India. Violence against women is the most common form of human rights violation in India. It is such a deeply ingrained, socially accepted “right” for men to beat their wives, that women are trapped in a life of violence. Shame, stigma, and a lack of support from the police and the legal system prevent many women from reporting domestic violence and seeking help.

The Asian Circle have been supporting this project since the beginning and their dedication has helped it make massive strides. In Chhattisgarh, there has been a state-level consultation on the State Gender Equality Policy, a policy that had not been revisited in more than a decade. Women from across the state took part, reflecting their concerns and issues with the policy gaps. In Odisha, Gender Times sessions were organised at colleges, which increased engagement of adolescents and youth groups with gender issues.

“Our project in Chhattisgarh has been extremely successful with the programme recently receiving a State Government Award, ‘Nari Shakti Samman’ in recognition of outstanding improvement of the conditions of women at the margins of society. This Award will have a significantly positive impact on women in this State. International funders have stepped-up to adopt and expand our initial pilot programme with statewide deployment. By working in the community, the programme helps reduce violence, provides education, training and development of skills for jobs and helps reduce poverty.” – Santosh Bhanot

The Asian Circle also know how to add pizazz when bringing the harsh realities of their project to their well established and generous community. Their five-year celebration is no exception! With a high chai tea and drinks reception at the breath-taking LaLit Hotel, guests had the opportunity to support victims of domestic abuse with the chance to walk away with some amazing prizes through an online auction to mark this special occasion. However, the auction is not only available for guests and you can still support victims of gender-based violence by browsing the bespoke gift selection. The two featured items include a specically commissioned print and a signed copy of Eurythmics’ In the Garden. In the Garden was the debut studio album from Eurythmics originally released in 1981. This edition was produced as part of the one-off re-release, by Sony Records, in 2018, of all Eurythmics’ albums and is very much a collector’s item with both Annie and Dave having signed it. Annie donated the album to support The Asian Circle’s work and show her appreciation for all they do. All the funds will go to help victims of gender-based violence – a key issue that The Circle’s work focuses on and one that is at the centre of Chai Day. So she even surprised guests with a personal message via video.

The Asian Circle conceived Chai Day back in 2016 as an initiative to raise funds and awareness for the victims of gender-based violence. Since then it has grown from strength to strength. Their support for some of the most vulnerable women and girls and the impact that their work has had is truly a testament to The Circle’s manta: women empowering women. This innovative fundraising idea has become one of The Circle’s key foci and its development into a global campaign is a result of the success of The Asian Circle’s back in 2016.

In addition to Chai Day, looking back over the years, The Asian Circle have hosted a number of fundraising and networking events over the years in London and organised film screenings including The True Cost and Chalk ‘n’ Duster. Every summer, they have their popular Summer Party, which was attended by comedian Shazia Mirza in 2017. They created the concept of Chai Day and launched it in 2016. The Asian Circle and their supporters organised several Chai Days in 2017, including one at the British High Commission in New Delhi and the official The Asian Circle Chai Day at Montys, in Ealing, which was attended by The Great British Bake Off star Rav Bansal. All these events have raised huge contributions.

 

Thank you, to The Asian Circle, for all your incredible work and long may it continue! We can’t wait to see the pictures from their celebrations today.

You can show your support in celebration with us by participating in the auction and hosting a Chai Day!

#ChaiDay #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Widening the Circle of Support for Women

Photo credit: Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

In the run up to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, The Circle member Katie Rose has written this blog post about gender-based violence and some of the things we can all do to end it. Katie, as many others are, is organising a Chai Day to help us end violence against women and girls. Chai Day is about raising awareness and funds for victims of gender-based violence, about bringing together people to discuss an issue that affects women worldwide and inviting conversation to make real change. The Circle have been encourages members and non-members alike to get involved in this campaign and Katie’s thoughtful analysis of issue is a perfect example of women empowering women.

Widening the Circle of Safety and Support for Women by The Circle member, Katie Rose.

Like many of us, I have witnessed the recent media treatment of female sexual assault with despair. There are too often too many cases where a woman who has experienced trauma is not given recourse to justice. In many parts of the world, it is still the victim, not the perpetrator, who is discredited, excluded, shamed and faces further violence from society.

What can we do to change these shocking narratives and how can we support women to recover and communities to grow beyond patriarchal systems of gender-based violence and oppression? One action I have taken is to join Annie Lennox’s charity The Circle, which supports projects that do just that. I am also passionate about co-directing Sing for Water fundraisers for WaterAid projects which transform the lives of the women and girls around the world who spend 200 million hours daily walking for water.

As I feel it’s important to keep sharing messages of hope and solidarity, in this blog I want to identify some of the positive stages of recovery, so we can all help widen the circle of support for women.

1. Acknowledging Oppression

The first step is acknowledging the situation women face today. Just one of the many statistics included by Annie Lennox in her #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist campaign is that 1 in 3 women and girls are impacted by physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. These statistics are likely to be skewed, as many women are too frightened or in too much danger to speak out.

There are horrific acts of violence happening against women right now – which is why it’s important that those of us able to read this safely on laptops or phones take action in whatever small way we can. Women who have experienced victimisation are not just victims and statistics – they are strong, vibrant, creative human beings with the right to live peacefully and safely on the planet. When we stand up against oppression as individuals, we stand up for all women.

 2. Owning, Voicing and Witnessing

When a woman who has experienced gender-based trauma is able to own and tell her story, it is crucial that she is given safe, supportive witness. We need to be on the look out for signs that a woman is struggling, even before she feels able to disclose. We can encourage women to safely speak out and access confidential, professional support.

As a singer, I feel we need to empower and educate girls to feel they have a voice. A girl who knows the power of her voice can say “no”, can shout for help and can stand up to oppression. Disclosing is only one step in the road to recovery – the #MeToo movement has seen an outpouring of stories which now needs to be met with a commitment to support recovery and social justice.

3. Creating a Circle of Safety and Support

When a woman has experienced trauma, it is essential that she can access safe shelter and support for herself and her dependents. A circle of support can be formed – including her trusted friends and the health, employment, childcare or legal services she needs to access. In a caring, encouraging, empowering environment, she can recover and rebuild her life.

There are many inspiring case studies on The Circle website – including women like Bina who left an abusive marriage with the support of counselling and legal support from a woman’s shelter in India, domestic violence survivor Siyanda and her son who received help from the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre, Cape Town, and the many women who receive support at the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre.

Photo Credit: Half the Sky Movement

4. Justice

The inner process of recovery for women needs to be matched by an outer process of social justice. In a village featured in a film by The Asian Circle, after yet another woman was beaten by her drunken husband, women gathered together and smashed all the liquor pots. In the Samburu region of Kenya, where women are viewed as property, Rebecca Lolosoli spoke out against the rape of an estimated 1400 women in the 1980s and 90s by British soldiers. She was beaten by local men and received no support from her husband. She left her village and formed the Umoji village with 15 rape survivors, which now houses 50 women and 200 children seeking refuge from FGM, child marriage, rape and domestic violence. The women manage their own finances and land and their rape cases are finally being investigated legally.

These stories testify to the immense resilience of women in the face of brutal oppression and the power that becomes available when we join together to say #TimesUp.

5. Liberation

With support, solidarity and recourse to justice, a woman can liberate and reclaim herself from the shadow of violent oppression. She can rise up and recreate her life for herself and her loved ones.

As she does, the whole community can be transformed. Men can become allies in this process, such as the members of Uganda’s police force who after 24 women were brutally murdered, went on a walk carrying water pots on their heads and babies on their back to see what it was like ‘to walk in women’s shoes’ and to inspire other men to ‘see the benefits of equality’.

Just as everyone suffers in a world which brutalises women and girls, everyone gains when women are liberated from oppression and violence. We are all part of the change and we can all help widen the circle of safety and support for women.

Katie Rose – October 2018

Katie will be hosting a Chai Day in South London on 25th November
For more info please email info@therosewindow.org

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen