“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….”
On the International Day of the Girl, I’d like to commemorate a very special young woman called Ashley Kaimowitz.
A beautiful black and white photograph hangs in Nonceba’s entrance hall, made by local craftswomen in honour of an exceptional teenage girl called Ashley Kaimowitz.
In order to fully understand how the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre came into being, it’s important to know Ashley’s story.
In high school, Ashley was an active member of Rotary Interact —Rotary International’s service club for 12-18 year olds.
At the age of 16, she became secretary of her school’s chapter of the club, and she planned a trip to visit Nonceba with her executive committee in the township of Khayelitsha, where 1 in 3 children suffer serious sexual abuse by the age of 18.
Nonceba was originally founded in 2002 by a local resident called Nocawe Mankayi, who had become deeply distressed by how commonplace child rape was in the township, and how little support was available for victims. Nocawe offered children shelter in her own small brick house, feeding them with her meagre income. She dreamed of creating a larger, professionally-equipped, 24/7 safe haven for victims of sexual abuse. Nonceba received no assistance from the government and was being maintained solely by volunteers.
On her visit with Interact, Ashley met a little 4-year old girl who had been raped by her father the night before. Holding the child in her arms, Ashley was overcome with emotion. She felt destined to help manifest Nocawe’s vision —an idea to which she was about to wholeheartedly dedicate herself.
A high achiever, Ashley had long been passionate about filmmaking, something she planned to pursue as a career in the future. While she had never made a film, she conjectured that a documentary about rape in South Africa’s townships would be the perfect fundraising tool for Nonceba’s new centre.
Despite her inexperience, she resolved to script, direct, and produce her own film, underscoring the subject. She told her parents, “If I can’t bring the World to Khayelitsha, then I’m going to take Khayelitsha to the World!”.
In between school and her extracurricular activities, Ashley reached out to family members in the U.S. to help her fund the film, as she knew the dollar would go a long way in her native country. Her grandparents put her in touch with the Board of Directors at Rutgers University, where a couple named Jerry and Lorraine Aresty admired Ashley’s tenacity and idea so much that they offered to sponsor her project with a cheque for $1,000.
When a small film company in Cape Town learned of Ashley’s plan, they lent her all of the necessary film equipment, trained her in its application, and linked her to an editing company and film studio (both of which agreed to help with the documentary for free).
Ashley and a few friends spent their entire winter break filming in Khayelitsha alongside Nocawe.
In September of 2002, after months of steadfast effort on the documentary, “Uthando Labatwana — For the Love of Our Children” celebrated its premiere screening at Ashley’s high school. Her work received a standing ovation, but Ashley had no intentions of stopping there.
Schools in the area began showing Ashley’s documentary, and more individuals and organizations stepped forward with donations for Nonceba.
In 2004, after completing high school, Ashley moved to Japan for a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student Ambassador. Despite being far from home, her devotion to Nonceba never wavered. She continued campaigning for the cause by orchestrating film screenings in Japanese venues.
Soon, a professional film studio there offered to subtitle the film so that it would reach a broader audience. It was shown on national television and at film festivals across the country, and the Japanese population was startled into action by the content of Ashley’s work.
It wasn’t long before an entire organization was founded in Kyoto to create awareness about child rape, and raise additional funds for Nonceba.
When Ashley returned home, she set her sights on attending university in Australia, where she had arranged to study filmmaking.
While in the final stages of planning her move, she was tragically killed when a drunk driver hit her car.
Six months after Ashley’s death, Carte Blanche (a South African program similar to 60 Minutes) broadcast her story, and support poured in from people all over the country who were inspired by Ashley’s courage, empathy, and actions —virtues that were even more remarkable given her young age.
As a result of that segment, millions of South African rand were raised for Nonceba’s new centre, and a construction team was assembled.
In 2008, three years after Ashley’s death, Nocawe was able to open the doors of the new Nonceba. This location, unlike its predecessor, is equipped with medical facilities, a counselling clinic, a safe house for children and abused women’s shelter able to accommodate 45 women and children, a community hall, training facilities, multiple offices for doctors, lawyers, social workers and psychologists, an ample playground, and much more. The centre is open all day every day, with live-in staff and an entire team trained in crisis response.
While Ashley isn’t here to witness the fruits of her labour, the centre is dedicated to her memory and the relentless support of Nocawe’s mission.
Thanks to an extraordinary teenager who lost her life far too soon, there is a safe haven of hope in Kahyelitsha.
I’m so proud that The Circle is helping to support Ashley and Nocawe’s dream.
To find out more about the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre and donate, click here.
Photo: The Circle Committees Gathering in London, October 2018
We had a wonderful get together last Saturday 29 September 2018, with representatives from The Asian Circle, The Lawyers Circle, The Oxford Circle, The Italian Circle as well as our now forming London, Media and Healthcare and USA Circles! The Calgary Circle joined via the technology of the internet… I am SO proud of the work everyone has done, is doing, and is planning to accomplish in the future… Working on issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, a living wage for women working in the garment industry, supporting the most vulnerable refugee children and mentoring young female journalists working in conflict zones. We are covering a broad selection of challenges and establishing real traction!
To think that in the same week, Jessica Simor of The Lawyers Circle, along with our Executive Director Sioned Jones, went to The Hague to have dialogue that could actually change the law on what is considered to be a ‘living wage’ for women, is an outstanding Circle accomplishment! And our Asian Circle’s partner in India, Lok Astha, have just received a ‘Spirit of Humanity’ award in recognition of their work in creating a transformative model to eliminate domestic violence and empower women!
Photo: Susan Ferner, from The Calgary Circle, joined the meeting via video conference from Canada.
After only three and a half years of forming our NGO, we are beginning to demonstrate our real potential.
Please join me in amplifying the message as to who we are and what we are doing, by contributing to our #OneReasonWhyIamAGlobalFeminist campaign.
With gratitude and appreciation to every single one of our dear Circle members… and much love from Annie.
Annie Lennox, Founder of The Circle, on why she is a global feminist. Join the #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist movement on social media and tag Annie Lennox and @TheCircleNGO.
Like millions of women and men, I feel hugely inspired by the development of the #MeToo, Time’s Up and Women’s March movements.
I am proud to call myself a feminist and stand in solidarity with everyone who understands the vital need for change in attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls.
The feminist movement is a broad church with different interpretations, opinions and ideas. I identify myself as a ‘Global Feminist’ to describe where I’m coming from.
I believe in equality of rights, with empowerment and justice made available for every woman and girl in every corner of the world.
#OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist is a call to action bringing collective meaning and value to the term ‘Global Feminism’.
Prof Pamela Gillies, Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University
Feminism needs to be relevant, appreciated and respected where the needs are greatest —in countries where women and girls are not even near the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of human rights. I’m impatient to see the ‘glass ceiling’ being smashed in my lifetime, so I’m inviting you to join me and The Circle, to create a massive advocacy wave to establish the term ‘Global Feminism’ and raise a better understanding about the bigger picture of global inequality.
This call to action will only take 5 minutes of your time.
Have your picture taken holding a sheet of paper with one selected handwritten reason why you identify yourself as a Global Feminist.
Post your picture on social media, using #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist and tag Annie Lennox and @TheCircleNgo so we can see your support. Feel free to help grow the campaign by tagging other organisations you support who work for the rights of women and girls and ask your friends, family and colleagues to join in too.
You will then become part of a collective wave for positive change for women’s rights around the world!
Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld.
Here are some reasons to choose from, in case you don’t already know them:
1.There are 757 million adults who cannot read or write —2 out of 3 of these are women.
2.In Africa, 28 million girls are not in education and will never step inside a classroom.
3.Over 750 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
4.Every minute of the day, one young girl (aged 15-24) contracts HIV.
5.Women and girls account for 71% of human trafficking victims.
6.Every day approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
7.Women make up only 22.8% of the worlds parliamentarian seats.
8. Across the world 39,000 girls under the age of 18 become child brides every day.
9. In developing countries,20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth every day.
10. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.
11. 41 million girls living in developing countries around the world are denied a primary education.
12. 1 in 3 women and girls are impacted by physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
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…
“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.
Annie Lennox, Founder of The Circle, will take part in the 25th Concerto di Natale — Christmas Concert — on 16 December 2017 at the Aula Paolo VI, in the Vatican, under the patronage of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
All proceeds from tickets sales, as well as the donations to the solidarity SMS number 45549, will be donated to two projects that support vulnerable children: the Scholas Occurrentes foundation and the Global Don Bosco Foundation.
The Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, created by Pope Francis when he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, aims to end the use of child labour, often in slave-like conditions, in Congolese mines that extract cobalt, a mineral that is essential for the manufacture of smart phones and computers.
The Global Don Bosco Foundation teaches children to use digital communication in a safe way, focusing particularly in ending cyber bullying.
Annie will be singing along a top level cast, including Patti Smith (USA), Noa (Israel), Imany (France), Joaquín Cortés (Spain), Lola Ponce (Argentina), Hevia (Spain), Al Bano (Italy), Alex Britti (Italy), Suor Cristina (Italy), Gigi D’Alessio (Italy), Fabio Armiliato (Italy), Giò Di Tonno (Italy), Andrea Griminelli (Italy), Syria (Italy), Cheryl Porter & Hallelujah Gospel Singers (USA), Art Voice Academy (Italy) and Il Piccolo Coro di Piazza Vittorio (Italy).
Annie Lennox discusses her career, global feminism, activism and founding The Circle in today’s interview with The Independent.
Annie Lennox is to perform hits including “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and her own personal favourite, “Here Comes The Rain Again”, at a one-night only event at Sadler’s Wells in March.
Titled Annie Lennox – An Evening of Music & Conversation, the former Eurythmics singer will also share “thoughts, memories and reflections” on her life and career, set against a backdrop of visuals of her in various musical phases, as well as some childhood photographs, in aid of her the charity she founded, The Circle.
“It’s very interesting reflecting at this point in my life,” says Lennox, now 62. “When I was younger I was looking ahead and never knew where I was heading.”
On 4 March, Annie Lennox will share thoughts, memories and reflections during a one-night-only event of conversation, musical performance and visual imagery at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, in London.
All proceeds from the evening will be donated to The Circle. Annie founded The Circle in 2008, with a mission that we have preserved to this day: to support some of the most disempowered women and girls in the world as they challenge the injustice of inequality.
The evening is supported by Gucci, whose Chime for Change Campaign has been championing girls’ and women’s empowerment since its inception in 2013.
Sadlers Wells is an intimate venue and when tickets go on sale on the 10th November 2017 at 10am (UK time) we expect they will be incredibly popular.
As demand for tickets is high, The Circle has partnered with CharityStars to launch a sweepstake competition offering the opportunity for one lucky fan and their guest the chance to be flown to London from anywhere in the world, spend some time with Annie during the rehearsal for the show on the Sunday afternoon and then attend the event as a VIP. In addition, as part of the competition, there will be a fantastic range of unique rewards, including a red brocade Gucci suit worn by Annie, signed albums and handwritten lyrics for those wishing to enter multiple times. To find out more and to enter go to www.charitystars.com/Annie.
As a truly special event, ‘An Evening of Music and Conversation’ offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to see Annie Lennox perform, but also to hear her share fascinating stories from her life and career.