Annie Lennox’s and The George Harrison Global Citizen Award

On Monday, we were thrilled to see The Circle founder Annie Lennox receive the George Harrison Global Citizen Award at the Global Citizen Festival in New York. The award honoured her contribution to music and activism throughout her career.

Olivia Harrison presented the award. Annie then followed her acceptance speech with a surprise performance with Harrison’s son Dhani.

You can read her acceptance speech in full below:

Thank you so much Olivia. And thank you so much to the Material World Foundation for this incredible award.
I’m moved, humbled and honoured to receive it.

The beauty and power of George Harrison’s music continues to inspire millions of people with its social, political, universal message for a more sustainable, peaceful world.

I have always loved George’s music and everything he stood for, not only as a brilliant artist, but also as a highly intelligent, sensitive and compassionate man — deeply committed to the issues of human rights, freedom and justice.

In 1971, The Concert for Bangladesh was an innovative, groundbreaking event where he fearlessly created a global platform for advocacy through music, to raise awareness and inspire action in response to a desperate situation.

In 2017 — 46 years later, the Global Citizen Movement is boldly carrying the same torch forwards, with the same ethics and values — that we are all citizens of the world, each with a part to play in facing our complex interconnected global challenges.

The list of challenges is endless, but please bear with me while I name just a few.

The toxic effects of man-made pollution on Earth’s natural environment — the air, the rivers, lakes and seas.
The catastrophic effects of wantonly plundering Earth’s natural resources, risking the sustainability of human existence on this planet.

Deforestation, desertification — Ancient glaciers melting into the sea, sea levels rising exponentially.

The ongoing decimation of indigenous peoples and their traditional ways of life.

The decimation of animal species up to the point of virtual extinction.

The horrendous destruction of human lives through unspeakable crimes of warfare and genocide.

As I speak, 65 million people are displaced or living as refugees.

The vicious trap of poverty and the endemic misery it creates, with its dehumanising cyclic effects.

The rising trends of divisive bigotry, hatred, prejudice, racism, misogyny and violence in a world where one in three women have experienced abuse.

The challenges of global health epidemics — HIV/AIDS, Ebola, tuberculosis, malaria, etc.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop at this point before you become despairing or simply immune.

My thinking is… if we can distribute Coca Cola to every corner of the world, and send men and women into space, then surely there are solutions to these problems.

We are used to thinking that we don’t count individually. That is why it is so important to identify and engage with whichever piece of action you want to support, because, believe me, collectively everyone can make a difference.

But you need to choose hope over despair, responsibility over indifference, feminism over misogyny, and respect, love and kindness over bigotry, division and hatred.

So here’s what you can do just as one person. Inform yourself, choose a cause and give it your commitment. Support an organisation and join them. Donate what you can afford, or persuade others to raise money. Speak up, write, blog, march… Just do something!

And if you’re listening to this and you haven’t already done so, go to the Global Citizen website and take your first step into transformative change through positive action.

As a global feminist, I am very grateful to be able to share and amplify this message, and I am truly honoured to be part of the Global Citizen’s ethos, which I endorse with all my heart. Thank you.

So now, ladies and gentlemen, I’m thrilled and delighted to welcome to the stage Dhani Harrison.

Annie Lennox’s interview about the Global Citizen Festival


South Africa’s National Women’s Day — a message from The Circle founder Annie Lennox

 

As this is National Women’s Day in South Africa I wanted to share how proud I am of our short film clip which was made for The Circle with love, passion and dedication by the South African film maker Jo Higgs. I’ve been aware of the challenges in South Africa reaching back many years to when I was part of the international community of musicians who contributed to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Over the years, through having spent time in the country with direct exposure to many grass-roots projects, I came to realise that violence against women and children is endemic — playing out on an unprecedented scale every single day. This short film is the story of a young woman called Siyanda, but her personal experience represents the lives of millions of women and girls. The Circle is supporting the work of Nonceba towards creating positive transformation. We hope this film inspires you to make a contribution to the Global Women’s Movement.

Nonceba is a shelter for women who have survived domestic violence, rape and human trafficking. The Circle is delighted to be supporting Nonceba for a whole year.

The story behind South African National Women’s Day

When women come together, things change — often drastically. That is exactly what happened on 9 August 1956, when 20,000 women stood in silence in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to show their opposition to a change in legislation that required black and minority women to carry internal passports.

These passports were introduced during the apartheid era under the Urban Areas Act of 1950, more commonly know as “pass laws”. Black and minority ethnic men were forced to carry an internal passport as a way to maintain population segregation and control migrant labour. With the new changes to the legislation, women would be forced to carry them too. But these changes were met with strong, women-led political resistance.

A song was composed in honour of the occasion — Whathint’Abafazi Whathint’imbokodo! — Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock!

The song has turned into the chant “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”, which is voiced in South Africa every National Women’s Day to commemorate the women’s march of 1956.

National Women’s Day is a national holiday that raises awareness about gender inequality and its multiple manifestations, which include domestic violence, sexual harassment, unequal pay, unequal access to education for girls and sexual violence.

Between April and December 2016, almost 110 rape cases were reported in South Africa per day.


Singer Annie Lennox Calls for Solidarity to Help Most Vulnerable Women

The Circle featured in Thomson Reuters Foundation News

 

LONDON, June 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The challenges women face in the developing world, such as poor education and healthcare, child marriage and female genital mutilation may seem insurmountable, but change can come through solidarity from women in rich nations, said singer Annie Lennox.

While the disadvantages of women in poor countries are not being addressed, women in rich countries could use their power for good, Lennox said.

“This is how I see feminism, about the empowerment of women,” she told the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in London on Tuesday…

Go to the Thomson Reuters Foundation News website to read more.