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


The Circle Member Julie Ngov on sustainable fashion and the living wage

#WidenYourCircle: with The Circle member Julie Ngov

The Circle member Julie Ngov shares her story of choosing her own sustainable fashion brand over a career in law, why she is a member of The Circle and the importance of the living wage in the fashion industry.

Hi, Julie. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to leave your career in law to start an ethical luxury brand?

I grew up in Adelaide, Australia. My family are ethnically Chinese and my parents grew up in Cambodia. Traditionally my family were small business owners and my grandfather ran a fabric mill in Cambodia alongside other businesses. My parents moved to Australia in the early 80s as refugees. I was drawn to being a lawyer because I loved reading, reasoning and politics. In 2010 I had the opportunity to move to London to start a career in the City.

The long hours and pressure in the City took their toll. I discovered that I was no longer seeing friends, was gradually losing touch with my family and myself. I eventually burned out after 5 years in the City. The stressful, fast pace of life in London often means that the environment is an afterthought. In particular, the dominating presence of fast fashion brands and cheap, disposable clothing was a real eye opener.

After suffering chronic neck and back pain from long hours working as a lawyer, I took up yoga and weight training to build strength and manage the pain. This led to a range of sportswear purchases, but none of the garments really fit me and no brand spoke about having any environmental or ethical standards. With Cambodia being a major hub for garment manufacturing, the exploitative nature of the industry and how it impacts women particularly are issues that are close to my heart. Adrenna is an effort to bring together my love for movement, a healthy body and mindset and respect for the environment and humanity.

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

I joined The Circle because of its clear focus on women and the defined projects that it funds.

“Fashion’s main problem is the amount of clothes that we produce, which has the effect of devaluing not only the product, but the people who make them”

Why is the Living Wage Project important to you?

The Living Wage project is important to me because of my Cambodian heritage, so it speaks to me directly on a personal level as well as a professional level.

It’s also important because it brings to light the continuous need to improve the working conditions within the fashion industry. It brings together the human and labour rights elements that I care about as a lawyer and founder of a fashion brand. We should not just be fighting for a minimum wage that simply allows people to survive, but a living wage. Fashion is a visibly exploitative industry and over 80% of workers in the industry are female, so this also becomes a gender issue. Fast fashion brands are selling leggings for £5, which must cover the cost of the materials, thread, shipping and labour costs. This means the sheer quantity they have to produce is huge in order to turn a profit, regardless of whether the consumer needs it or not, and putting pressure on workers to labour in long hours at repetitive work. The loser in the end is the environment and the worker. Adrenna’s production model addresses all of those aspects of the traditional fashion supply chain —we make in small quantities, to the highest quality, using facilities in London and Europe that we personally visit and inspect. Our UK-based workers are paid the UK living wage.

Can you tell us how the issues that you are passionate about have informed your choices as a business owner?

I really believe that environmental challenges will be the defining issue of our generation and they won’t discriminate by age, race, class or wealth. Any business owner operating today has a responsibility to ensure their practices are as sustainable as possible. No new fashion brand —or any other type of business— should be launched today without a sustainability mission. Unfortunately we don’t live in a sustainable, zero-waste world, but a consumer one, so change is going to be incremental and no one can ever profess to be perfect (yet). Fashion’s main problem is the amount of clothes that we produce, which has the effect of devaluing not only the product, but the people who make them. If we produce less it will be better for all. Adrenna is pioneering a made-to-order model to reduce the amount of production; however, it has not been easy as it requires a change of mindset for suppliers and manufacturers who are used to working in the normal way. In our coming collections, I’m working hard to continuously push our sustainability credentials through the introduction of new, innovative materials and processes.

As consumers of fashion, what can we do to reduce our environmental and social impact and what do you think our expectations of the fashion industry should be?

In the day and age of data driven commerce, consumer spending habits are meticulously watched and monitored. Consumers actually have a lot of power when it comes to influencing brands to build better businesses. Our expectations of the fashion industry should be as high as possible. If brands are asking us to part with our money for an aspirational ideal, we should also be aspirational in the way we engage with them.

Every time I am thinking of making that impulse buy, I go through this thinking process:

– Do I already have something similar?
– Do I need it or do I want it? Can I wait a few days before I decide whether to buy it?
– Is there a sustainable and ethical alternative? (Even if it costs a little more, it would be worth it if the quality is significantly better and it ensures that the creator is paid a living wage).
– Will I wear it more than 30 times and will I keep it for at least 5 seasons?

To find out more about The Circle membership and how you can become a member, please click here.

 

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonImAGlobalFeminist


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle Member Dushy

Photo: Dushy and her family in Sri Lanka.

“Through The Circle I am being connected to like-minded women globally”

“Mix a tinge of your own style in whatever you do and stay unique” has been the mantra of Dusyanthi Rabinath, aka Dushy, born and bred in Sri Lanka. Possessing an academic qualification in Business Information Technology never was satisfying. Her real passion was Fashion Studies. Although she couldn’t finish her studies, her interest in fashion never faded and she has continued to update herself with the current happenings in the fashion world. She became interested in The Circle after learning about our work on the living wage in the fast fashion industry.

She says that the past five years have been well spent expanding her family with a loving husband and two adorable kids, who are her strength now. She believes it is the right time to come out from her comfort zone and look at the world from a different angle or maybe even envision a brand new world.

Widen Your Circle

The Circle members are women from all walks of life who come together to support some of the most marginalised women and girls across the globe.

Click here to become a member of The Circle and Widen Your Circle.


The Circle Member Ann-Marie O’ Connor reflects on #March4Women

Photo credit: Judit Prieto | #March4Women 2018, London.

On 4 March 2018, several members of The Circle attended the #March4Women rally in London with their friends and family. Ann-Marie O’Connor is one of those members. She has written about why she marched and why she will continue to support feminist causes in the future.

In this historic year that marks the 100th anniversary since some women got the right to vote, it could not be a better time to mobilise the surge of feminist energy currently being displayed throughout the world. History certainly appears to be repeating itself with the involvement of Helen Pankhurst, great-grand daughter of Emmeline, who also marched for women with us on 4 March 2018. I was reminded through her various media interviews that the struggle was never just about getting the vote. In an interview before her appearance at the Women of the World Festival 2018 at London’s Southbank Centre, she said “it was about individual women saying enough is enough, and there’s more that I want to do with my life, and I feel that my daughters should be able to do more with their lives” (Global Citizen, 7/3/2018).

Yes, my sentiments exactly and one of the reasons I wanted to take my own daughter with me to the march. But another reason for me was creating for her an understanding of the importance of taking the baton from one generation and passing it to the next. In these turbulent times we live, rights that have previously been won and fought for cannot be taken for granted and still need to be maintained. Women’s rights are still the fight of our generation. Keeping up the strength and resolve that is needed for current struggles is a legacy that hopefully we can, by our own participation, pass on to future generations of women, so that they can empower themselves for future struggles.

The Circle gave me the ideal opportunity to march alongside other members whilst also hearing speeches from many inspirational women. Especially heartening was having the march endorsed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, espousing the message that London should be a beacon for gender equality. In fact, it was wonderful to see so many men of all ages marching also. As I have a son as well, I do feel a responsibility to educate him about gender equality, particularly with regard to the area of relationships and respect towards women. As he also deserves to be treated with equal respect, I hold on to the hope that this reciprocity should lay the foundation for all future healthy relationships. Now that his sister has experienced her first march and had fun, I’m hoping he will join us next year!


Young Global Feminists at #March4Women

Photo credit: Judit Prieto.

On Sunday the 4th March, by the houses of Parliament, the air was cold, but the atmosphere was warm, filled with minds and hearts of people from all over — all protesting against the same thing. We were fighting against the abuse and discrimination and political imbalance against women. Above waves of people, flew colourful, hand-drawn and humorous posters in all shapes and sizes. A multitude of different people — men, women, teens, children, introverts — came out to raise awareness about the issue that affects many, daily. It was rainy, but we persisted with our heads high and hearts in our voices and hands. The march ended after drumming and chanting in Trafalgar Square: the place where the whole movement really started. Speeches were said and songs were sung and, most importantly, we gained attention. We gained attention politically and through the media to show everyone how we still need change. Yet again, it was a small step, but that small step felt good. It felt inspiring.

Written by Amelia and Emily, 14 years old. Amelia and Emily attended the #March4Women 2018 with their mum and other members of The Circle. They are the next generation of The Circle members and global feminists.

To find out more about our membership and how to sign up to become a member, click here.


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle Member Efe

“Her story has encouraged people like me to know that you’re not alone in this situation, and that’s what The Circle is all about”

Efe is a Biomedical Scientist and a member of The Circle. In her Widen Your Circle vlog, Efe explains why she is a member and tells us about one fellow member that has inspired her to continue working towards gender equality.

#WidenYourCircle

The Circle members are women from all walks of life who come together to support some of the most marginalised women and girls across the globe.

Click here to become a member of The Circle and Widen Your Circle.


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle Member Lianne

“They say that there is power in numbers and I think this is particularly true for us as women”

The second vlog in the Widen Your Circle campaign is by Lianne, a member of The Circle that is based in Taiwan.

Lianne is Co-Founder of the ethical fashion company Enchanted Rebels and a member of The Circle since 2017. Despite living on another continent, she is a very engaged member, and is supporting our Living Wage project remotely.

In the Widen Your Circle campaign, our members are taking over our blog, to tell us why they want to be part of The Circle and what they are doing to support women around the world.

Become a member to support women and girls around the world and Widen Your Circle.