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


Feminist Calendar: January and February 2019

Photo credit: Slave to Fashion, Safia Minney.

4th January – Film Screening of Made in Sri Lanka (Colombo)

Member of The Circle, Dushy, is holding a film screening of Made in Sri Lanka in Colombo. Join her for an educational and eye-opening look into the garment industry.

The garment industry in Sri Lanka employs an estimated 350,000 workers. 82% of these workers are women and most of them make less than a living wage.

Made in Sri Lanka follows a group of fashion design students travel to Sri Lanka and come face to face with the women who make our clothes.

Guests will also hear from Ashila Dandeniya, who, after leaving the garment sector, has been campaigning for a living wage in Sri Lanka as part of the Stand Up Movement.

12th January – LSFF 2019: Unvictiming: Women Reframe Sexual Violence (London)

Recently, our cultural consciousness has become suffused with stories of sexual violence – women’s stories that span decades. Finally, we are listening and believing. Yet, largely careless and titillating depictions of rape and sexual violence continue to dominate — ELLE, Nocturnal Animals, Gone Girl… Unvictiming interrogates how we should (re)present sexual violence.
Bringing together largely overlooked short films on the subject, Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal has selected a five decades-spanning series of short films on this subject as seen by women filmmakers. From Mendieta to Campion, this selection of work will be presented in context with a post-screening discussion

19th January – Jumble Fever (Oxford)

Join us for Jumble Fever on Saturday 19th January from 11am-3pm on the Mezzanine at The Tap Social, Oxford. Come along for vintage clothes, a bric a brac rummage, books, records, jewellery, dancing and more!

There will also be lunch available from Waste2TasteOx! £2 entry or free with a bag of donations! See you there!

20th January – The Big Clothes Swap for Amnesty International (Exeter)

Clothes swapping is the perfect way to revamp your wardrobe without spending a penny and helping to reduce some of the £140 million worth of clothing going into landfill every year. This is a brilliant way to keep fashion sustainable and get rid of those unworn clothes and fill your wardrobe with pre-loved goodies!

The event is keen to highlight the human rights abuses and exploitation of the environment which go into the mass production of clothes by the fashion industry. What a great sustainable alternative to disposable fashion, particularly as it falls during the January sale.

22nd January – Stand Up. Be Heard. Young Women in Politics (London)

Women, Want to change the world?*
*Starting with your community

Fed up with the status quo?
What issues do you really care about?
How can you influence and support the people around you?

Come along to The Parliament Project’s next London workshop designed for young women to demystify the process of getting politically involved. Connect with other London based women as together we explore how women can best prepare for roles in politics, whether you’re involved in a political party or not.

By understanding the stages involved in getting elected; from choosing and joining a party, becoming an activist, through to selection and election, we hope to provide you with all the information you need to forge your own path in politics. You’ll hear from those who have chosen a political pathway for themselves, answer your questions, and direct you to the support you need to get started.

23rd January – A Private War: Fundraising Film Screening

Join us at the May Fair Hotel on 23rd January for the UK screening of A Private War.

This film starring Rosamund Pike follows the incredible life of renowned journalist Marie Colvin, for which Annie Lennox has written and recorded the theme Requiem for A Private War.  Oscar-nominated Heineman has created a devastating portrait of a complex, brilliant woman. In every scene, Pike fiercely inhabits Colvin  who sacrificed her own safety and happiness to bear witness to the very human cost of armed conflict: ‘the people who have no voice’.

Annie Lennox has written and recorded the Golden Globe nominated song ‘Requiem for A Private War’ especially for the film.

The screening will be followed by a drinks reception, a Q&A with Rosamund Pike and Lindsey Hilsum, and the opportunity to purchase Lindsey’s new book ‘In Extremis’.

All proceeds will go towards the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network.

24th January – Decolonising Contraception (London)

Decolonising Contraption Presents: Male contraception – patriarchy, the pill and the importance of male participation.

Following the success of the ‘Decolonising Contraception’ Event in Black History Month, we have decided to start a series around the topic!

The first of our four part series is surrounding the role that men play in the movement.

Panellists will be announced shortly!

DecolonisingContraception or Decolonise Contraception is a movement that aims to promote discussion related to the ways in which some sexual and reproductive health (SRH) practices have developed from unethical medical research, often on previously colonised populations. This movement intends to provide spaces to discuss how these issues still affect our practice today. Decolonizing Contraception aims to understand the colonial history of contraception, discuss modern contraceptive methods, and start new conversations about reproductive justice. We aim to empower those that seek contraception and other sexual health services to strive for reproductive justice, even if that means having difficult and awkward conversations.

26th January – Psychoanalysis and Feminism: Beauvoir, Irigaray, Kristeva, Butler (London)

There has always been a wing of feminism that looks to psychoanalysis for an elucidation of the problem of the difference between the sexes and of the problem of sexuality generally. While, at the same time, there has always been an opposing wing that roundly criticizes the theories that have been forthcoming – from male analysts such as Freud and Lacan – as ‘repressive’ towards women and deeply patriarchal. This situation has been modified, but not resolved, by the powerful intellectual contribution of female analysts such as Klein and Kristeva.

This day will be split into three sessions, each designed to provide an insight into the intersection between psychoanalysis and feminist thought.

26th January – Pass the Mic: Muslim Women Making Their Voices Heard (Glasgow)

Too often in media, on stage and online the experiences of Muslim women are absent, rarely do we see or hear Muslim women leading debate; whether that is a discussion on their lived experiences of racism, Islamophobia or sexism, or an area of their expertise; law, business, politics, education, health, to name but a few.

This workshop is to support Muslim women to be leading voices by providing training on dealing with media and public speaking. The half day free training will be delivered by Talat Yaqoob and will be interactive and give women confidence and skills in sharing their views and telling their stories.

6th February – Feminist Futures for Turbulent Times: The legacies of Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin (London)

The turbulent future that democratic elections anticipate all over the world seems rather bleak. The extreme right is capitalizing on the fear of permanently unstable conditions by making the other, the most vulnerable of us, responsible. Meanwhile, feminism and its intersections open the doors to alternative futures of dialogue with and respect for us all.

Celebrating the legacies of feminist science fiction writers Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin, thinkers from different disciplines will speak about these writers’ influence on their work in current or previous turbulent times.

6th February – The Circle presents Global Feminism: The Fashion Industry (London)

Waterstones Gower Street and The Circle invite you to attend a new series of book talks inspired by The Circle Founder Annie Lennox’s campaign to promote Global Feminism, encouraging everyone to further understand the inequality around the world for the most disempowered and marginalised women and girls.

The first session will look at the need to protect and ensure the rights of women in the Fashion Industry. In conversation are Safia Minney and Tansy Hoskins, two exceptional women and authors who, through their work, are shining a light on the impact of the fast fashion industry and the need to end modern day slavery for the millions of women working in it.

Tickets are £10 / £8 (students and The Circle members) and include a glass of wine or soft drink

6th February – The Vavengers on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM (London)

Join The Vavengers and The Royal College of Midwives for lunch and performances to mark this day.

This event aims to inspire a sense collaboration and of all of us working together, not only in supporting policies and initiatives in the UK, but supporting & cheering on grassroots activists/organizations in countries where FGM is practiced. Supported by The Dahlia Project, Forward, Midaye and Orchid Project.

7th February – Fast Forward Feminism (London)

Fast- Forward feminism; Resist, Reimagine, Rebuild is a two day student- led festival, that encourages critique and speculation of a discriminatory education system that does not represent us!

Bringing together artists, academics and grassroots activist, we will create a space that facilitates collective thinking, discussion and direct action to resist the current ‘neo-colonial white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.’ [bell hooks]

12th February – Screening of City of Joy (Los Angeles)

City of Joy, directed by first-time director Madeleine Gavin, follows the first class of women at a revolutionary leadership center in eastern Congo called City of Joy, from which the film derives its title, and weaves their journey as burgeoning leaders with that of the center’s founders (a devout Congolese doctor Dr. Denis Mukwege (2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner), women’s rights activist Christine Schuler-Deschryver (Director of City of Joy and V-Day Congo) and radical feminist Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues and Founder of V-Day/One Billion Rising) – three individuals who imagined a place where women who have suffered horrific rape and abuse can heal and become powerful voices of change for their country.

A story about the profound resilience of the human spirit, CITY OF JOY witnesses Congolese women’s fierce will to reclaim hope, even when so much of what was meaningful to them has been stripped away.

13th February – Screening of City of Joy (Oakland)

This screening will also be happening the following night in Oakland. In Oakland, immediately following the screening, audience members will be invited to RISE and participate in the One Billion Rising “Break the Chain” dance, as well as a Q&A with City of Joy Co-Founders Christine and Eve and She The People Founder Aimee Allison. Reflecting Bay Area Rising’s intersection of art, spirituality, and activism, the event will feature local dance, and music, including a drum procession led by Afia Walking Tree and performances by the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company.This film is certainly not to be missed!

13th February – An Evening with Stacey Dooley (London)

Stacey Dooley has firmly established herself as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters through her hugely popular investigative series, covering a wide-range of topics from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria.

At the core of her reporting are incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances – from sex workers in Russia, to victims of domestic violence in Honduras. In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey draws on her encounters with these brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience.

This February, join Stacey as she celebrates the paperback publication of her bestselling debut. In this rare live appearance, Stacey talks about her remarkable career so far, and explores the themes of her book, discussing everything from gender equality, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, weaving these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.

Unfortunately, this event has now sold out, however, you may still be able to find tickets online.


The Circle calls for the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety to remain

 

The horrific tragedy in 2013 at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and the needless death of 1.134 brought to the world’s attention the dangerous and oppressive working conditions that millions of women working in the fast fashion industry face every day.

Out of that awfulness some progress has come in the form of the introduction of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety that over the last five years has inspected and worked with hundreds of factories to improve the working conditions for thousands of workers.

We are therefore disheartened to read that the Bangladesh Government now wish to shut down the Accord and instead use their own regulatory body, the Remediation Co-ordination Cell which is still in its infancy in terms of development.

The Circle is working to ensure that women in the ready-made garment earn a living wage.

Currently in countries who are the largest producers of fast fashion workers are not receiving a living wage at all. In fact, in Bangladesh workers receive a minimum wage that is only 9% of a living wage. Whilst we continue our work and campaign on this issue we stand firm on ensuring that other basic human rights such as a right to life are realised.

Sioned Jones, Executive Director of The Circle stated ‘We must not allow any step back in the pushing forward to ensure the protection of workers fundamental human rights. Whilst there is still so much to be done to ensure all work in a safe manner and earn a living wage we were beginning to see progress in Bangladesh in terms of safety. The work of the Accord and their transparent and professional approach to improving working conditions on many factories in Bangladesh must be continued for the foreseeable future.’

Jessica Simor QC, Member of The Circle and the lead author of its report ‘A Living Wage is a Fundamental Right’ added ‘The human rights of the millions of women working in the Ready-Made Garment Industry must be protected. Working in safe and legal conditions are imperative to this and continuing the work of the independent Accord alongside factory owners and governments is essential.’

To find out more about our Living Wage projects click here

#OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Annie at the Academy Women’s Initiative

Annie Lennox addresses the crowd at the Academy Women’s Initiative LA event in West Hollywood on October 30.

‘It was and still is, profoundly distressing to know that the world at large didn’t seem to be aware, or particularly care about the scale of the appalling tragedy that was taking place in terms of girls and women’s health … Women are, after all, half the world’

Watch the full video here

#OneReasonImAGlobalFeminist #WomenEmpoweringWomen


Our member Efe on #ChaiDay

 

Why did you decide to organise a Chai Day?

To help raise funds for victims of domestic violence, rape and sex trafficking. To join in and support them so they too can begin to heal and return to their world stronger.

What did organising a Chai Day make you learn about gender-based violence?

That there are different forms of gender-based violence and all of them need our attention. Because it is a major public health and human rights issues. I learned that young girls around the same age as my sister are been taking away from their mother’s arms and subjected to prostitution, been raped and abused physically and emotionally, and it needs to stop. I learned that if I can gather fierce and determined women in a room to support my cause, then we are one step closer to ending this for someone.

 

What are your top tips to organise a Chai Day?

Don’t do it alone. It is a ‘team’ event. So gather your friends, their friends, members of your family and their friends and host a Chai Day, because it will be so worth it when you include people in your world to support a great cause.

To find out how you can organise a Chai Day visit www.chaiday.org

#ChaiDay #WomenEmpoweringWomen


‘On International Day of the Girl, this is why we should all be global feminists’

 

“A few years ago, the word “feminist” seemed to make quite a few people feel uncomfortable. It carried a kind of stigma – a bad rap – and was often perceived as unmentionable and polarising.”

“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….”

Go to the full article

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist