“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.
How can we confront institutions about their role in perpetuating violence and work to make institutions more open and inclusive spaces?
This panel will explore some of the paradoxes and difficulties of doing feminist and anti-racist work within institutions. Even when institutions claim to be committed to equality they are often deeply unequal and hierarchical spaces. A feminist and anti-racist project is to transform the institutions in which we work. The aim of transforming institutions is still however an institutional project: we often have to work through the structures we seek to dismantle. When our political work is resourced or supported by an institution does it become more difficult to confront the institution? Does following procedures or working in house constrain the kinds of work we can do? If for strategic reasons we try to avoid confrontation what else are we avoiding? And how and why are some of us perceived as being confrontational however we are doing the work?
The panel will be a chance to talk from as well as about our experiences of doing feminist and anti-racist work. The panel will consider who does (and does not) do the work of trying to transform institutions and how these distributions of labour can reproduce inequalities, and will discuss the costs of doing (and not doing) this labour and reflect on how institutions can exhaust us and wear us out. The panel will open up a discussion of how we can confront problems of institutional racism, institutional sexism (including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct) as well as institutional bullying.
gal-dem’s panel will explore women of colour and BME women’s experiences of street harassment: the ways in which this harassment is frequently laced or combined with racism and Islamophobia and how a culture of harassment fits into the wider spectrum of violence perpetrated against women because of their gender or perceived gender.
Empower Her Voice (EHV) is bringing you a comedy festival —a night of spectacular talent hosted by Verity Babbs.
This event will be raising money to fund scholarships for girls to attend the Sanjan Nagar school in Lahore, Pakistan. Book your ticket: all ticket sales will go towards funding the entire education (12 years) of ten young Pakistani girls.
There is a serious lack of female representation in the DJ scene. Only 10% of performers at music festivals around the world are female and an even smaller percentage of women are on music label rosters. The Oxford scene is no different.
Here, for Hugh’s Arts Week, students at Oxford University want to redress this imbalance in the Oxford DJ scene. We’ve got an incredible, exclusively female trio of DJs from Cuntry Living Magazine. They’ll teach all you gals the ropes.
Anyone who identifies either fully or partially as woman, or who has a complex gender identity that may include “woman” is very welcome!
This exhibition of work by Edinburgh-based photographer Mhairi Bell-Moodie highlights the stories of 25 women. The women involved have overcome child loss, domestic abuse, rape, self harm, body dysmorphia, suicide attempts, breast cancer, chronic illness and much more. The series acknowledges their struggles and celebrates their survival.
The exhibition is free and open to all at Out of the Blue daily from 10 am-5 pm.
Please be aware that the work contains subject matters which some may find upsetting.
Journalist and author of It’s Only Blood Anna Dahlqvist is in conversation with Gabby Edline, activist and founder of Bloody Good Period. Attend this event to learn more about issues of gender inequality facing women and girls due to the lack of essential sanitary products and education, which are perpetuated by social and cultural shaming. In her book, Anna tells shocking and moving stories of why and how people from Sweden, Bangladesh, Uganda and the USA are fighting back against the shame.
This “festival of motherhood and work” is aimed at women who have felt pushed out of their careers after having children, as well as those who are thinking about motherhood and want to be armed with some invaluable insights.
Sessions cover topics from flexi-working to knowing your legal rights (in case your boss doesn’t). Expect to learn from the funniest and most successful mums around.
Climate change is a feminist issue. Women are disproportionately vulnerable to the environmental crises we face. This panel presents women working on the frontline of resistance. Judy Ling Wong OBE, ambassador for the Women’s environmental Network and founder of the Black Environmental Network, and Lisa Schipper, researcher at the Overseas Development Institute, will draw on their experiences in the field to address the crucial link between women and climate change.
The Feminist Library will be hosting an event on the place of feminism in tech! This time round they’ll be talking AI from a feminist perspective —they’ll be asking questions like: what does feminist AI look like? Is it possible to have feminist AI? They’ll be opening the evening with a couple of films on the topic and then welcoming speakers from academia, activism and filmmaking, with a range of perspectives on feminism and AI. The panel will include inspiring women from Commons Co-Creation Platform, Code Liberation Front / Goldsmith’s University London, Ada-AI and the Feminist Library.
They are inviting you to join the discussions, watch feminism & AI films with us and hear feminists who work in this area shine a light on it from a range of perspectives. It will be a relaxed evening of interesting screenings and discussions, with drinks and snacks available to make your evening even more enjoyable.
The Empower Project are having their first ever AGM and there’s going to be pizza! Get your ticket for a zine making workshop to make their annual report, speakers & food.
The Empower Project is an NGO based in Scotland working on creative ways to tackle gender-based violence and online abuse. This year they have already co-hosted a decoding event with Amnesty International to take down #ToxicTwitter and held discussion groups and training sessions and put on a feminist disco! The best part is you can be a member for just £1! “Come for the pizza! Stay for the smashing of the patriarchy!”
28 May — Menstrual Hygiene Day
Menstrual Hygiene Day is “a global platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)”. At The Circle we’re focussing on #MenstruationMatters throughout May. The Music Circle are planning a Night Walk through London to raise awareness about Menstruation Matters and raise funds to support young women and girls who do not have access to sanitary products or reproductive health education. If you would like to sponsor them, please click here.
Join comedian Deborah Frances-White for her comedy podcast, recorded in front of a live audience.
In each episode Deborah and her guests discuss their noble goals as 21st century feminists and the paradoxes and insecurities which undermine them. The podcast has been a huge success with over 10,000,000 downloads since it started at the beginning of last year.
The Women’s Movement of the 1970s empowered women to step behind the camera in larger numbers. Their pioneering work platformed voices, stories and issues previously ignored or misrepresented.
The ground-breaking directors highlighted in this series made films outside the mainstream industry, frequently through activist film cooperatives and collectives. Their work was screened in “consciousness-raising” groups, at political conventions and in other alternative venues, and was often intended to spark discussion and action on women’s issues.
These films offered alternate visions to the mainstream, introducing subjects of interest to women and reshaping how films were made in ways that continue to be influential. Through cinema vérité, animation, experimentation and autobiographical techniques, such as images from dreams and entries from diaries, a new cinematic language was forged to capture a shared experience.
The Suffrage movement was the start for many positive changes for women in the 20th Century. Now in 2018 we commemorate the past as we continue to advocate for change. Members of The Circle are committed to amplifying the voices for the most marginalised women and girls to ensure they are empowered by lasting change in the global movement for gender equality. On 10 June PROCESSIONS will be taking place in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
PROCESSIONS is a celebratory mass participation artwork to commemorate the centenary of the women’s right to vote in the UK.
Some members of The Circle will be attending the event. Email us at email@example.com if you would like to join them.
Hotline, Edinburgh’s resident female and non-binary DJ night, is moving to Glasgow! Hotline creates safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people and will continual to do so in Glasgow. Great tunes and great people!
This exhibition at LSE features archive items and objects from the Women’s Library collection —including banners, sashes, badges and much more— to show the campaign methods of the three main groups for women’s suffrage: the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). It concentrates on the last (and often bitter) years of the long campaign of the struggle for women’s right to vote from 1908 to 1914, with the inclusion of prison diaries and leaflets detailing tactics, such as “rushing” the House of Commons.
Written by @AnnaRenfrew. Anna is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Circle.
Photo credit: Judit Prieto | The Circle members at March 4 Women, London.
Inspired by the Feminist Calendars written by our fantastic volunteers, we wanted to put some additional external events for April onto your agenda. Events are a great way to meet other members and learn more about some of the issues we are addressing in our projects. If you are planning to attend any of these listed below, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can connect you with other members who are also interested in attending.
Join The Elders, the Fight Inequality Alliance and the Atlantic Fellows for an event at LSE, London. The event is in honour of grassroot efforts around the world to address the inequality crisis and learn more about joining the #WalkTogether movement.
The Elders are an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights. It was set up in 2007 by Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu.
The Circle is committed to a guaranteeing a living wage for garment workers in the fast fashion supply chains. With Fashion Revolution Week taking place from 23-29 April, it’s the best time to brush up on your knowledge of The Circle’s Living Wage Project. Being informed about the fast fashion industry allows understanding of the greater context in which financial inequality for women and girls is perpetuated within fast fashion supply chains.
Here are some events being run by fellow members to help you be better informed:
Another incredible member of The Circle and Founder of Enchanted Rebels, Lianne Bell, will be hosting and co-hosting a series of live events on Facebook, including Dress Ethically. She will be joined by ONE SAVVY MOTHER for a live Facebook event that aims to bring you closer to the people who make your clothes. They’ll be sharing their own experiences and answering your questions!
The Circle member Lianne Bell will be having a good old chinwag with Ethical Fashion Blogger Tolly Dolly Posh about greenwashing. Lianne is based in Taiwan, but the chat will be taking place online at 15:30 UK time.
Written by Peta Barrett.
Peta is a member of The Circle since 2016 and The Circle Relationship Manager since 2017.
Photo credit: Nader Elgadi | Members of The Circle at the Annual Gathering 2017
As a woman, I feel we are always encouraged to name our “inspirational woman”. We are surrounded by the media plugging the likes of Emma Watson, Beyoncé and Jessica Ennis-Hill, who have all made their mark in society regardless of their gender. I am not disputing this. These women are amazing, have amazing talents and have achieved amazing things. Unfortunately, what I think is sometimes forgotten is that we are not all aiming to be the best actress, musician, sports person or a world leader — we are aiming to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
With this in mind, why are we constantly looking at the “stars” for inspiration and guidance? Why are we looking at Cosmopolitan’s “Woman of the Year” awards, or Sport England’s “This girl can” campaign to drive us forward? Personally, I feel we need to be looking closer to home more often. As cliché as it may be, my mum is one of my biggest inspirations, as I’m sure yours is to you. Running her own business, being a single parent and dealing with all the fun that goes into looking after two mood-forever-changing children is clearly very admirable.
But it is not just my mum that inspires me. I take inspiration from my friends, the ones who spend every day in the library slaving away for their degree, but still are able to hold down a part time job and enjoy a good night out. I take inspiration from the ones who are still smiling and laughing when they have broken up with a boyfriend; the ones who no matter what time of the day will always be there with a cup of tea/bottle of wine when you need it the most and the ones who are strong enough to say “no” to things they do not want to do. I take inspiration from my aunts who have had the courage to travel the world and constantly experience new things and I take inspiration from my nana who can barely walk but still has one of the most active, creative minds I know, and my grandma who at nearly 80 has just come back from Australia!
I don’t believe we should just have one role model. I personally don’t believe that me trying to be Beyoncé is the most realistic thing either (although after a few glasses of wine I think my rendition of “Single Ladies” is pretty much on par with hers, to be honest). But what I do believe is that we can do anything we put our mind to, whether male, female or nonbinary, and it is the people who surround you, your family, your friends, teachers, colleagues, lecturers (the list is endless), who make you believe that you can too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s not Beyoncé, Emma Watson or Jessica Ennis-Hill who inspire me to try and be like them, but the women around me who inspire me to believe that I can. Let’s face it, it’s 2018 and we are still fighting for feminism to be heard. Women in this country are still being paid less than men for the same jobs; the least we can do is look around us. Look around and remember that we all have something to offer; to someone we are their inspiration. So be the best possible you, not just for yourself but for the people around you, because someone is looking up to you —maybe it’s me, maybe it’s your friend, your sister, your mum, your boss, that girl who always sits four spaces away from you in the library— whoever it is and whoever you are, we all deserve to inspire and to be inspired. Inspiration is a beautiful, amazing thing which leads on to even more beautiful and amazing things— and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
To my family I am still a girl, to my work colleagues I am woman, and to society I am female, but to me I am Hatti and I hope I am simply Hatti to you too. Each one of these labels has a different connotation, which of course you don’t need me to explain, but thanks to the women around me I hope to be the best Hatti I could ever possibly be.
At The Circle we’re inspired by our members and volunteers every day. If you would like to find out more about our membership and how you can become a member, go to our Become a Member page.
Written by Hatti Briggs, a volunteer of The Circle since 2016. You can read more articles by Hatti in her blog.
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!
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.
When Bina was pregnant, she was physically and verbally abused by her husband and threatened with more abuse if she told anyone. When she fled to her family’s home, her husband attacked them too.
Bina and her family went to the police station but the police refused to help her. Luckily, one of The Circle’s and Oxfam’s partner organisations spotted the family as they were walking into the police station and offered their help.
The organisation offered Bina counselling and legal support. She has managed to put her husband behind bars, has applied for child maintenance and is learning how to sew so that she can get a job and raise her son Vijay, who is two years old now.
Despite enormous societal pressure, Bina refuses to return to her husband.
The Circle, Oxfam, several local organisations and women leaders in Chhattisgarh and Odisha are working together to set up support centres offering medical care, legal advice, counselling and shelters to survivors of gender-based violence. Click here to find out more about the project.
Our mission at The Circle is to bring women together, defend women’s rights and give them a voice. Here are eight books by authors who do just that, to get you feeling inspired for the spring…
1. Jess Phillips, Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth
Jess Phillips is bold, she’s unapologetic, and she’s out to empower women. From violence to sisterhood to building a career, Phillips tackles her themes head on, providing gritty insight and no-nonsense advice. Her underlying message? “We’re women and we’re kick-ass. And that’s the truth”.
2. Anne Elizabeth Moore, Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking
From the sweatshops of Cambodia to the ateliers of Vienna, Moore takes us on a whirlwind tour of the sex and garment supply chain in this beautifully illustrated feminist zine. She examines the fraught interplay between gender, labour and production, highlighting individual voices to show the true cost of fast fashion. The result is a practical guide to a growing human rights problem too pressing to ignore…
3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
In her most recent work, Adichie offers fifteen feminist principles – guidelines, as it were – to a friend, the soon-to-be mother of a baby girl. Though addressed to Ijeawele, Adichie’s suggestions are universally applicable: we could all benefit from questioning social norms, or being more open about female sexuality. Adichie’s writing is warm, frank and inspiring.
4. Hibo Wardere, Cut: One Woman’s Fight Against FGM in Britain Today
This powerful, devastating work aims to shed light on the oft-overlooked issue of female genital mutilation. Wardere shares her personal journey, from her cutting as a six-year-old to her present role as an outspoken anti-FGM campaigner. A vital read.
5. Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
A tireless advocate for girls’ education and equal opportunities, Malala here tracks her journey from war-torn Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. I Am Malala shows the potential of young women and girls; this one will inspire a generation.
6. Sue Lloyd-Roberts, The War on Women: And the Brave Ones Who Fight Back
During her forty years as a video journalist, Sue Lloyd-Roberts met women who were victim to unspeakable atrocities, from rape to FGM to honour killings to imprisonment. Here, she gives voice to the forgotten women, and to those who fought back. A must-read from one of the most acclaimed TV journalists of her generation.
7. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Set in a dystopian totalitarian future, The Handmaid’s Tale offers a terrifying glimpse of what happens when the legislation of women’s bodies is taken to extremes. Now a major TV series, Atwood’s chilling narrative is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago.
8. Julie Bindel, The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth
Justice for Women co-founder Julie Bindel spent two years travelling the world, meeting pimps, pornographers, sex workers and abolitionists in a bid to uncover the truth about the sex trade. The Pimping of Prostitution is the remarkable result of her journey.
Written by Jessi Wells, volunteer and member of The Circle.
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…