Feminist Calendar: March and April 2018

Photo: Care International’s #March4Women rally, 2017.

Looking for inspiration from incredible women around the country? The Circle volunteer Anna Renfrew has got it covered with this collection of feminist events near you!

1 March – Both Sides Now (Leeds)

Both Sides Now is a large-scale initiative taking place across the North of England to support emerging female artists and up-and-coming industry professionals to transform the future of the music industry.

Its aim is to create a network that delivers sustainable activity and affects permanent change around the perception, opportunities and profiling of women in music, from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the stage.

This first ‘Open Space’ event is for anyone with an interest in this conversation to come together and discuss what could make a real difference – whether that’s about role models, motherhood, education, social mobility, policy change or something else entirely.

1 March – Consent in the classroom: mapping SRE provisions after #MeToo (Cambridge)

The presentation of GENPOL’s new policy paper, one of the first studies assessing the quality and influence of sexual education across all EU member states. The policy paper examines the links between SRE and gender-based violence, suggesting that comprehensive and inclusive teaching can help challenge and prevent abusive behaviours. It outlines GenPol’s innovative approach to consent-centred SRE, and carefully unpacks the relationship between educational efforts and gender-based violence prevention. It also celebrates the vital work of sex education and gender equality advocates across Europe, whilst identifying existing gaps that need to be addressed.

2 March – The Feminist Disco II (Edinburgh)

Join the joyous rebellion and embrace the fun of feminism with your fellow feministas. The Feminist Disco is back in Edinburgh with more great tunes and excellent company!

2 March – My Life as a Scottish MP (Edinburgh)

The European Parliament Liason Office in Edinburgh will host a panel discussion event for International Women’s Day to discuss women’s issues at national European level and the specific challenges faced by women in politics. This will be an all-female panel with speakers including Catherine Stihler and Elspeth Attwooll!

3 March – Stereotypes of Black Women’s Identities (Bristol)

“A panel discussion led by three women from diverse backgrounds leading the discussion on the stereotyped black woman. For centuries, black women have been shoehorned into a handful of stereotypes — the mammy, the sexual siren, the welfare queen, the matriarch, and the angry Black woman. Arguably, Michelle Obama represents a pushback against each of these, even at the implicit level.”

African Voices Forum leads round table discussions on the identity of black women as part of the General Assembly’s proclamation of this decade as the Decade for People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.

4 March – March4Women, The Circle (London)

The Circle members will be marching through the streets of London to show solidarity for women everywhere. It’s going to be a fun and empowering way to get to know each other more and support women’s rights. Not a member yet? Join us!

4 March – Imkaan x gal-dem: fundraiser to support women facing violence (London)

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, for one Sunday filmmaker Jade Jackman, Politics Editor for gal-dem Leah Cowan and the rest of gal-dem will fill the House of Vans with film screenings, several talks, a raffle and a marketplace. All proceeds will be donated to Imkaan, the only UK-based, second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black minoritised women and girls.

Through celebrating the words and works of women and non-binary folk of colour, we will support women in the UK who will be most affected by the government’s proposed changes to domestic violence funding which will leave some refuges and services without funding. By uplifting and celebrating women, we want to support others.

With workshops and panel discussions focusing on BME women’s experience of sexualized and racialized harassment and ending deportations. There will also be a talk by Paula Akpan, gal-dem’s social media editor, in conversation with activist and model Munroe Bergdorf.

7 March – March of Women, a film from Glasgow Women’s Library and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Dundee)

First performed in 2015, March of Women celebrated the lives and achievements of Scottish women past and present. In this documentary film, you will hear from the women involved as they talk about the heroines they chose to represent. After the film you’ll get the chance to join the discussion and create your own suffragette-style rosette with a message for women today.

This event is for women only.

8 March – International Women’s Day Celebration (Edinburgh)

The Empower Project and WomenBeing have teamed up to host a celebration of women this Thursday for International Women’s Day. The event will feature an exhibition of art and photography, spoken word performances, and live music from women living in and around Edinburgh. Taking place at The Dog House in Newington, they will be taking donations of hygiene products for Homeless Period. Lets have a party!

8 March – Girl TALKS – International Women’s Day Special (Leeds)

Girl Talk is a free, monthly, informal meet up for creative women and non-binary people hosted by Girl Gang Leeds. Their monthly meet-up falls on International Women’s Day so this one is going to be extra special!

With talks from Kristyna Baczynski, Modes of Expression, Equaliser, Four Chambers and Freedom4girls.

8, 9, 10 March – Nasty Women Exhibition: Empowerment (London)

To celebrate International Women’s Day Creative Debuts has joined forces with Nasty Women New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, North East, and London to celebrate the work of international feminist artists.

Expect to see a range of contemporary artwork including photography, sculpture, craft, fine art, and film whilst raising money for End Violence Against Women. RSVP is essential!

9, 10, 11, 17 March – POWERFUL WOMEN: A Hidden History, at the National Gallery (London)

It’s back!

“Did you know that of the 2,300 paintings on display at the National Gallery, only eleven are by women? Did you know that only around five per cent of the works in major permanent collections worldwide is by women artists? Did you know that on average less than five per cent of the artists in permanent collection’s modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female? Can you name the female heroes and seductresses of the old testament? Do you know their stories? Have you ever heard of a Maenad? Medusa? Madame Pompidour? Saint Catherine?”

London Drawing Group is addressing this imbalance: “POWERFUL WOMEN: a Hidden History invites you to step inside London’s Iconic National Gallery with a celebration of powerful female figures throughout history; from Grecian Goddesses to the wonderfully vicious Old Testament heroines, stories of Saints and Martyrs, Witches, Monsters and the too-long-forgotten female artists of the National Gallery”.

Let resident LDG tutor Luisa-Maria MacCormack guide you through the gallery and spend the afternoon practicing drawing exercises that are designed to help you understand and engage with these paintings and stories in new and creative ways.

9, 10, 11 March – WOW Festival(London)

WOW – Women of the World festival celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential.

Around the world, individuals and communities are insisting on the simple proposition that women and girls must have equal rights and asking the question: why is gender equality taking so long?

Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival is a global network of festivals which provides a platform for celebrating what has been achieved, and exploring all the ways we can change the world for the better. The Circle will have a stall at the WOW Market Place, so come and meet the team!

12-13 April – Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities (Oxford)

After the resounding success of the first Queer Modernism(s) conference in 2017, Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities, will be held on 12 and 13 April 2018 at the University of Oxford. Queer Modernism(s) II is an interdisciplinary, international conference exploring the place of queer identity in modernist art, literature and culture, with an emphasis on intersecting identities. Panelists will question, discuss and interrogate the social, sexual, romantic, artistic, affective, legal and textual relationship between queer identity and modernity.

The Keynotes will be Dr. Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Jana Funke (University of Exeter). Dr. Parmar is a BBC New Generation thinker and has published widely on women’s literature in the 20th century, especially lesser known and non-canonical women. Dr. Funke is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities in the English Department at the University of Exeter and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Her research cuts across modernist studies, the history of sexuality and the history of science. She has published on modernist women’s writing, the history of sexual science and queer literature and history.

Click here to see the provisional programme.

26 April – Empower Her Voice: Mothers in the Arts (London)

Empower Her Voice – London is an organisation which aims to promote education and create discussion amongst women around the world; it was set up by Zainab Majid and Amira Fateh in 2017 and since then has run successful talks and events that aim to increase positive networking between self-identifying women for a charitable cause.

For the first ever Empower Her Voice event in London, a group of fascinating women will discuss what it means to be a working mother in the arts today, whilst raising money for girls to attend school in Lahore, Pakistan.

With a fantastic lineup of speakers on the panel: Yana Peel (CEO of the Serpentine Galleries), Fiammetta Rocco (Arts & Books Editor at The Economist), Elif Şafak / Elif Shafak (author), Margy Kinmonth (film and television director), Joanna Kirk (represented by BlainSouthern), Martine Rose (fashion designer) and Alice Murphy (historian), this is not to be missed!

 

 

 

 

Written by @AnnaRenfrew. Anna is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Circle.


Sexual violence in conflict and the use of women as weapons of war

Photo credit: Jan Dago. Published by Alexia Foundation. Internally-displaced civilians during the Sierra Leone civil war.

In modern wars, it is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier on the front line. Women can endure violence, rape and even see their children killed.

In 2008, the United Nations formally declared rape a “weapon of war”, and Major General Patrick Cammaert, a former UN force commander, spoke of the spread of rape as a war tactic, saying: “It has become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.”

The first order of business in conflict zones is usually to deprive women of education and health services, restricting any kind of participation in economic and political life. However, in recent conflicts, sexual violence statistics have skyrocketed with staggering levels of mass rapes being reported.

Declared over in January 2002, the civil war in Sierra Leone had raged for more than a decade, leaving half of the pre-war population displaced, 50,000 dead, 100,000 mutilated and over a quarter of a million women raped.

In a three-month time period during the 1994 genocide, more than 250,000 women and girls were raped in Rwanda.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo – also known as the rape capital of the world – 48 women were raped every hour during the 2011 conflict, making the statistics almost one woman per minute.

There’s no denying that rape in wartime is an act of violence that targets sexuality. Moreover, militias quickly discovered that the most cost-effective way to terrorise civilian populations is to conduct rapes of mass brutality. The humiliation, pain, and fear inflicted by perpetrators not only dominates and degrades the individual victim, but also her community.  

Christina Lamb, foreign correspondent for The Times, told in a TEDxExeter talk in May 2017 of some of the things she had witnessed when working in the field.

“Over the last year I’ve seen worse things than I’ve ever seen before,” she said.

“In Northern Nigeria three years ago, around 200 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok and the story made international news for around two weeks. I went there and found out that, actually, more than 1,000 girls had been abducted, unreported. And when I spoke to these girls, they had terrible stories about being gang-raped by Boko Haram fighters and being forced to marry them.

“Some of them had escaped and were in camps but they told me that their own families wouldn’t take them back because they saw them as being sullied or they were worried they’d been indoctrinated. In fact, one of them – a little girl – had been so badly raped that she couldn’t walk. She shuffled like a crab.”

Modern wars are increasingly characterised by these barbaric acts of sexual violence to terrorise populations and destroy communities.

“And then there was the Yazidi girls. 5,000 of them abducted by ISIS and sold for less than the price of a cigarette packet. I spoke to one of them who had been released and she told me that the worst night of her life was when her captor – a fat judge – brought back a 10-year-old girl and raped her in the room next door to her, as she cried for her mother all night”, said Christina Lamb.

ISIS continues to unleash violence that disproportionately targets women and girls as young as three and the victims are often enslaved, sexually abused and traded like chattel in the human trafficking underworld where their payment is then used to fund the war and further terrorist attacks.

Even after conflict has ended, the impacts of sexual violence persist, with unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and stigmatisation rife in post-war communities. Widespread sexual violence itself may continue or even increase in the aftermath of conflict and meeting the needs of survivors — including medical care, HIV treatment, psychological support, economic assistance and legal redress – often requires resources that most post-conflict countries do not have.

So, what can we do to help?

Advancing women’s rights and empowerment is vital in addressing the needs of female survivors worldwide. Not only do we need to raise awareness of atrocities against women and girls, but we also need to fight for justice and reforms in policy and foreign diplomacy.

We must work to remove the stigma around sexual violence, help women and girls tell their stories and create and help existing support systems for survivors. The Circle strives to achieve all of these.

By supporting projects worldwide, The Circle works with women who have experienced sexual violence in projects such as the Nonceba Women’s Shelter, those fighting domestic violence in India and the courageous female journalists of the Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, who give a voice to the incredible – and undoubtedly brave – survivors of conflict from around the world.

 

 

 

 

Written by @shanhodge.
Shannon is a Journalism graduate and a volunteer at The Circle.


‘We come in peace, but we mean business’

Photo credit: The Denver Post. | Women March in Barcelona, 2018.

As we start the new year, I want to take a look back at 2017 as one that marks a moment of change in the systemic sexism and a shift of our cultural consciousness surrounding sexual assault. 2017 will be remembered as the year that Donald Trump, a man accused of multiple accounts of assault and recorded describing his behavior towards women using degrading and vulgar language, was elected as 45th president of the United States of America; yet, it will also be the year that hundreds of thousands of women and men took to the streets to protest against his inauguration across the globe in the Women’s March in January. Furthermore, throughout the year the world watched as a watershed of powerful perpetrators were exposed and held accountable for their threatening, and in many cases, illegal behavior. The list of high profile men who have been exposed have held positions spanning across a diverse number of industries, proving how widespread and seemingly universal this problem of bullying and sexism is and how ingrained it is in our society.

The significance of The Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ being awarded to the ‘Silence Breakers’, the women and men who have spoken out against those who used their positions of power to intimidate and abuse, is so incredible as it has provided a platform through which they can share their story. In addition, the success of the #MeToo campaign that hit social media platforms by storm is another indicator that victims of such behavior do not have to fear the same scrutiny and prejudice that they have done in the past. The campaign, which was started by Tarana Burke almost a decade ago, epitomizes the importance of a shared experience of victims in order to overcome the inequality that they face.

The Circle focused on #WidenYourCircle as their campaign this January, to stress what women can achieve when they come together and how women benefit from being part of a network of support. This solidarity amongst women and their fellow feminists is an integral part of the process of changing attitudes towards victims of sexual assault and creating an environment in which they are able to come forward and confront their abusers without fear or stigma.

Although this open discussion of previously taboo subjects and the ‘revolution of refusal’, as The Times has coined it, is a huge step for many of the women and men who have suffered from such horrific abuses, we must now focus on how this reckoning can be further used to change perceptions and address the underlying problem of abuse. These were not isolated incidents. Women and men face intimidation and sexual assault on a daily basis and to the extent that if it were reported in the same manner as, say, gun violence, the media would be describing it as an epidemic of such. So why has it taken this long for large organisations and media outlets to speak out? Much of the reporting focused on the financial implications for the men who were accused of bullying, assault and, in some cases, of rape. Public figures are still skeptical about the validity of a woman’s testimony of abuse if she is under the influence of alcohol and huge corporations are still spending millions to cover up and play down incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. Women everywhere, who are not in the same privileged position as many of those who came forward with their testimony are unable to stand up to those in a position of power as they are stuck in a system of inequality and, if the #MeToo campaign has succeeded in demonstrating anything, it is that women are under threat. Rape Crisis UK reports some shocking statistics concerning sexual violence towards women including 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 and only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police.

In a TIME/SurveyMonkey online poll of American adults conducted on November 28-30, 82% of respondents said women are more likely to speak out about harassment since the Weinstein allegations. Meanwhile, 85% say they believe the women making allegations of sexual harassment. This is an encouraging statistic but if we are to make the events of the last year meaningful for the marginalized in a larger sense and as part of a process of changing the environments in which this form of abuse is possible as opposed to penalizing those at fault on an individual basis, then we must use the momentum of 2017 to continue supporting victims and refusing to accept this behavior of intimidation. In everyday terms, this means that we need to accept that the people responsible can be found amongst our friends and colleagues; understanding that harassment and assault is not restricted to rich and famous men who seem very far from our own lives but something we may need to stand up to within our own circles. Barbara Kingsolver put it succinctly in a recent Guardian article; ‘Let’s be clear: no woman asks to live in a rape culture: we all want it over, yesterday.’

The Circle supports a number of projects that benefit women who have suffered from sexual violence, including the Nonceba Women’s Shelter in Cape Town and Chai Day, an initiative started by The Asian Circle that aims to raise awareness and funds to support survivors of gender-based violence. Look out for our upcoming projects this year to see how you can get involved in making 2018 an even greater step towards equality.

 

 

 

 

Written by @AnnaRenfrew. Anna is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Circle.


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.


Widen Your Circle: with Susan and Adrienne

“To actually sit down for the first time ever and have a conversation about domestic violence and about sex trafficking… we’re connecting at a very different level”

This month, our members are taking over our blog, to tell you why they want to be part of The Circle and what they are doing to support women around the world.

The first vlog is by Susan Ferner and Adrienne Furrie, two new members who live in Alberta, Canada. Over the past few months, they have been organising small, informal meetings with their friends, relatives and neighbours, to talk about some of the issues that affect women in their community and globally.

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


Feminist Calendar: January and February 2018

11 January — Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation (London)

Hosted by the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, speakers Diann Bauer and Helen Hester will speak about their work on the critical school of Xenofeminism. Xenofeminism (XF) is a “gender abolitionist, anti-naturalist, technomaterialist form of posthumanism, initiated by the working group Laboria Cuboniks. It is a project aiming to infect a wide range of fields, operating on the assumption that any meaningful change will happen at a range of scales and across a range of disciplines”.

13 January — LSFF 2018: Radical Softness: Barbara Hammer and Chick Strand (London)

“My life changed through touching another woman whose body was similar to my own. My sense of touch became my connection to the screen. I wanted the screen to be felt by the audience in their own bodies.” — Barbara Hammer, “The Screen as the Body”, Mousse Magazine.

A combined screening of Chick Strand and Barbara Hammer, exploring the idea of ‘radical softness’ — the power in being both abrasively feminine and openly vulnerable, subverting emotion from weakness to strength through a radically soft camera and Hammer and Strand’s specifically haptic modes of filmmaking.

Accompanied by Skype Q&A with Hammer in conversation with Club des Femmes’ Selina Robertson.

14 January — Manchester Women’s Equality Party meeting (Manchester)

The next Manchester WE branch meeting will be held as usual at The Pankhurst Centre, 60-62 Nelson Street, Manchester M13 9WP from 2-4pm.

Go along to share ideas about possible local campaigns, such as their campaign to make abortion free, safe and legal in every part of the UK.

18 January — Utter: Raise Your Voice Glasgow (Glasgow)

Taking place at the Glasgow Women’s Library, this singing group brings together women of all ages and abilities to celebrate womanhood through the power of our collective voice.

“Each session uses music and movement to explore a particular aspect of our personality. Build your confidence as you experience the joy of making music.”

No auditions, no need to read music, and no singing experience necessary.

Raise Your Voice takes place every fortnight and you can drop by on weeks that you are available!

17 January — Women in Diplomacy (London)

Angela Kane will be talking about her experience in diplomacy and will reflect upon challenges and opportunities for women pursuing careers in diplomacy.

Ms Kane served as the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs until mid-2015, where she provided strategy, vision and thought leadership for the United Nations on its multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation agendas. She was responsible for planning, negotiating and conducting the ground-breaking investigation of alleged chemical weapons used in Syria in 2013, which resulted in Syria’s destruction of its chemical stocks. Previously, Ms Kane served as the Under-Secretary-General for Management, heading the largest and most complex UN department, with responsibility for the global financial and budgetary management of the UN (2008-2012). Ms Kane also served as UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, focusing on the prevention and resolution of conflicts in all regions except Africa.

23 January — Women’s Rights Writing and Campaigning Meeting (Cambridge)

Join & help make a difference for women and girls in the UK and worldwide. At this meeting Amnesty International Cambridge City Group will write letters and solidarity cards, but also discuss and plan campaigning actions for example stalls or talks on subjects such as abortion rights and sexual harassment.

They will be writing letters on behalf of Teodora del Carmen Vásquez in El Salvador, who was sentenced to thirty years in prison for aggravated homicide in 2008 after suffering a stillbirth. She was presumed guilty of having an abortion rather than the potential victim of pregnancy complications. Teodora’s trial was flawed and lacking in due process.

They will also be campaigning for women’s human rights lawyer Azza Soliman. At the regional Amnesty conference on women’s rights in Cambridge, in February 2016, Azza Soliman gave the keynote speech, detailing her work and the rights’ abuses that women were failing. She is now facing 15 years in prison and the Egyptian authorities have also banned her from travelling and frozen her assets.

1 February — Feminist Book Club: Sister Outsider (Manchester)

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of feminist literature, engage in discussions considering the usefulness of feminist criticism or just meet some like-minded people, then head down to Morley Cheek’s with your book in hand! Anyone is welcome to join in the discussion and new attendees are always welcome!

1 February — Our Red Aunt: Exhibition Launch (Glasgow)

Fiona Jack presents a collection of new works responding to the work and life of her Grand Aunt, prominent Scottish activist and suffragette Helen Crawfurd (née Jack).

In the Glasgow Women’s Library’s first solo exhibition by an international artist, Fiona Jack introduces a new series of works made in response to her Grand Aunt, suffragette Helen Crawfurd, which will be exhibited at the library less than a mile from where Crawfurd campaigned on Glasgow Green in the early 1900s. Over the past year, Fiona has studied Helen’s unrelenting crusade against injustice and, with friends and collaborators, she has made a series of books, banners, sculptures and ceramics that respond to Helen Crawfurd’s legacy and the relevance of her critical perspectives today.

The exhibition will continue until Saturday 17th March if you can’t make the opening!

5 February — Light Up the Night (London)

As part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Light Up the Night will be meeting on the Millenium Bridge as a sign of solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence. In light of the incredible 2017 that witnessed what has been called a cultural shift in attitudes towards the issue, this is a great way to show your support and continue fighting these crimes in the new year.

6 February — The Oxford Circle Author Talk, with Sarah Morris

Sue Lloyd-Roberts was a multi award-winning BBC journalist who wrote The War on Women: And the Brave Ones Who Fight Back. She died of cancer before completing the book, the content of which was finalised by her daughter Sarah.

In The War on Women, Sue brings to life many stories she had come across working as a journalist over all the world of women who have suffered, witnessed and combated oppression, discrimination and violence such as female genital mutilation, honour killings in the UK and forced marriage. She fought with them and for them until the very end.

Sarah will be speaking about The War on Women and the challenges of finalising it ready for publication, and is very happy to answer questions about it.

All profits from this event will go towards The Oxford Circle, a network of members of The Circle that are based in Oxfordshire.

9 February — Powerful Women: A Hidden History, at the National Gallery (London)

“Did you know that of the 2,300 paintings on display at the National Gallery, only eleven are by women? Did you know that only around five per cent of the works in major permanent collections worldwide is by women artists? Did you know that on average less than five per cent of the artists in permanent collection’s modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female? Can you name the female heroes and seductresses of the old testament? Do you know their stories? Have you ever heard of a Maenad? Medusa? Madame Pompidour? Saint Catherine?”

London Drawing Group is addressing this imbalance: “POWERFUL WOMEN: a Hidden History invites you to step inside London’s Iconic National Gallery with a celebration of powerful female figures throughout history; from Grecian Goddesses to the wonderfully vicious Old Testament heroines, stories of Saints and Martyrs, Witches, Monsters and the too-long-forgotten female artists of the National Gallery”.

Let resident LDG tutor Luisa-Maria MacCormack guide you through the gallery and spend the afternoon practicing drawing exercises that are designed to help you understand and engage with these paintings and stories in new and creative ways.

19 February — The Guilty Feminist at Royal Albert Hall (London)

Ever felt like you should be better at feminism?

Join comedian Deborah Frances-White and a guest host for her comedy podcast, recorded in front of a live audience. Each episode Deborah and her guests discuss topics “all 21st century feminists agree on” while confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that underlie their lofty principles.

20 February — TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh Conference ‘Empowerment’ (Edinburgh)

TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh is back in 2018 with its yearly flagship conference. The aim of TEDxUoE is to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused and on a wide range of subjects, to foster learning, inspiration and wonder — and provoke conversations that matter.

Given the abundance of daunting news from many parts of the world we receive these days, it seems easy to fall trap to a sense of helplessness. TEDxUoE says it wants to fight this feeling of discouragement and that’s why this year the theme of the conference is “Empowerment”.

In this full-day conference, locally-sourced speakers will navigate diverse topics and explain why we can be hopeful about the future we share, and they will spread their ideas to empower us in our everyday personal life. Talks will cover various fields of knowledge from multilingualism to video games, from eating habits to breakthrough scientific discoveries achieved at Edinburgh University.

21 February — Celebrating the Marie Colvin Journalists Network (London)

Marie Colvin’s friends created the Marie Colvin Journalists Network with The Circle in 2015, as a tribute to her life and her contribution to journalism. The MCJN is a network of female journalists working in conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa. It is a platform where younger or more isolated journalists can access mentoring from more experienced journalists, counselling, online resources and workshops, and access to a community where they can share experiences and seek advice in both English and Arabic.

On the 6th anniversary of Marie’s killing in Syria, The Marie Colvin Circle, along with her friends and colleagues, will celebrate her life and legacy and will raise funds to support the MCJN.

24 February — Germaine Greer: Women for Life on Earth (Manchester)

Sympathetic Development has invited Greer, who is regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminist movement, to talk about the “inevitability of ecofeminism”.

When Welsh women turned up at the RAF base at Greenham Common in 1981, they were carrying a banner that read “Women for Life on Earth”. Theirs was direct action, born of gut reaction, virtually innocent of theoretical framework.

Feminists can be found wherever the planet and our fellow earthlings are in trouble. They shepherd stranded cetaceans back into deeper water, stand in front of lorries carrying live animals to slaughter, lash themselves to conveyor belts in protest against the logging of old-growth forests, march and lobby against the threat of fracking. The action they cannot be moved to take on their own behalf, they take on behalf of the planet. If the planet is to survive and human beings continue to inhabit it, this female energy must be unleashed.

28 February — Women In Tech Conference (Edinburgh)

Organised by Edinburgh University Women in STEM, the aim of this conference is to help breach the gender gap by creating a support network and introducing the software engineers of tomorrow to the role models of today. You will have the opportunity to participate in workshops led by inspiring women while learning new skills and connecting with like-minded people. This event will allow intermingling with professionals and peers as well as receiving career advice from successful women in the tech industry.


The Feminist Advent Calendar by The Scottish Circle

Photo: The Scottish Circle’s event in partnership with Unicef and the David Williamson Rwanda Foundation.

The Scottish Circle’s Feminist Advent Calendar is a collation of some of the amazing events you can attend in Scotland, or things you can do from the comfort of your home, each day to be inspired by fellow feminists this festive season.

December 1 — She Made The Library (Glasgow)

Catch the last two days of this exhibition at the Glasgow Women’s Library in Glasgow. The photographic exhibition is the last of GWL’s 25th year and evokes a recognition of the thousands of women who have created GWL and how important it is to record their cultural and political contributions.

December 2 — Women of Colour in Literature (Glasgow)

Another event at the Glasgow Women’s Library, this Collect:if talk is a part of Book Week Scotland and will be discussing women of colour in literature and their experiences breaking into the industry. The event will include readings from a number of women writers and an interview of Safina Mazhar.

December 3 — Watch #CHICAGOGIRL: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator

Running an entire Syrian revolution from her bedroom in Chicago, 19-year-old Ala’s Basatneh is an inspiration for everyone wanting to help make a difference in the world. Armed with Facebook, Twitter, Skype and camera phones, she helps her friends on the ground in Syria show the world the human rights atrocities of a dictator, by arranging protests, sending videos to news organisations and smuggling in vital supplies to those in her social network. Find it on Netflix!

December 4 — Dundee University Feminist Society film screening of Frida (Dundee)

Join Dundee FemSoc for a film screening of the biopic of artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo. Directed by Julie Taymor and winner of two Academy Awards, this film is a modern classic for art and history fans alike.

December 5 — Women, Work and Violence – History repeating? (Dundee)

A public lecture delivered by Anni Donaldson and organised by the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership. The lecture is part of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

December 6 — 16 Days of Action: a Conversation about Gender-Based Violence (Aberdeen)

16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is a movement which began at the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Since 1991, 5,167 groups in 187 countries have contributed to promoting and supporting these 16 days. This year NUS Scotland, AMINA, Grampian Rape Crisis Centre and Aberdeen University Students Association are holding a screening of Hopscotch, followed by a discussion on gender-based violence in their communities. They will be discussing the ways in which gender-based violence affects different communities and the platforms that exist to support survivors and deliver preventative and interventionalist strategies.

December 7 — Power to the Powerless, Celeste-Marie Barber (Edinburgh)

This informal lecture will introduce audiences to the drawings, painting, prints, sculpture, mixed-media installations and performance art created by Black British artists living and working across the Black Diaspora. The importance of intersectionality and dominant structures of inequality are crucial to contemporary feminism and this exhibition explores untold narratives and missing memories by developing experimental art practices.

December 8 — Host a Chai Day!

In 2016, The Asian Circle conceived Chai Day as a way to raise awareness and funds to support survivors of gender-based violence. Many supporters of The Circle and The Asian Circle held their own Chai Days with their friends and family, at their universities, at work and at home. We are delighted to say that it was a great success and together we raised vital funds to support survivors of gender-based violence in the UK and overseas.

This year, we encourage you once more to hold a Chai Day in your community, and help us spread the word about the scope and impact of gender-based violence around the world.

Find out more about Chai Day and download invitations, posters and fact cards on our website.

December 9 — Feminist Utopia (Edinburgh)

The Empower Project is a feminist charity in Scotland, working hard to support communities to end violence against women and girls. They describe their vision as a world in which every member of every community is empowered to make change. Join them for their Feminist Utopia event to celebrate feminism’s resilience against the negativity it has faced this last year. All proceeds go towards the Empower Project!

December 10 — Listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk We Should All Be Feminists

Novelist and academic Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asserts “we teach girls that they can have ambition, but not too much… to be successful, but not too successful, or they’ll threaten men”. In this classic talk that started a worldwide conversation about feminism, Adichie asks that we begin to dream about and plan for a different, fairer world.

December 11 — Nine Power with Laura Oldfield Ford: Who Speaks? Who Listens? (Glasgow)

Hosted by the CCA Glasgow, this talk will build upon earlier research into the use of the recorded female voice in public/semi-public spaces, with a view to pursuing the question of what it means to inhabit cities primarily in the mode of listening. With many more people now avoiding speaking on the phone in favour of texts and non-verbal modes of communication, this talk will examine the future of face-to-face interaction in urban spaces, and pose again the question of the psychic effect and political meaning of the voice, particularly the female voice, in today’s world.

December 12 — Freshair, “Work In Progress”

“Work in Progress” is a weekly radio show hosted by four final-year students at The University of Edinburgh. A topical chat show with a female focus, each week they explore a different musical genre whilst trying to make sense of the world around them. This semester the show has covered the likes of Weinstein culture, the #MeToo campaign, mental health in sport, Boris Johnson’s capacity to continue as Foreign Secretary and the Victoria Secret catwalk show amongst a wealth of other topics. It’s been a busy few months!

They’ll be back in the new year on FreshAir.org.uk and in the meantime you can listen back to all of their previous shows on Mixcloud.

December 13 — Business Women Scotland Christmas Event (Aberdeen)

Enjoy a networking event hosted by Business Women Scotland in Aberdeen. This is networking with a difference. You will be given the opportunity to have a five-minute pitch to the guests about your business and make new connections. For any women looking for support and advice and an opportunity to build on your self-confidence.

December 14 — Story Café (Glasgow)

So far this year, our hearts have been aflutter over the joys and sorrows of first love, humbled by the bravery of political activists and warmed by acts of compassion. One of the GWL’s last events before Christmas, Story Café will showcase stories and poems that will provide a glimpse into the lives of women across the globe, whilst helping us to make sense of our own.

December 15 — Watch She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Another gem on Netflix! Focusing on the women’s liberation movement from 1966 to 1971, the film recounts the stories of women who fought for their equality and, in the process, created a world-wide revolution. Covering topics such as unequal pay, sexual harassment, domestic violence and reproductive rights, it’s an important story that will still resonate for women today.

December 16 — Get involved in Women for Women International Society at Edinburgh University (Edinburgh)

Women for Women International help women survivors of war rebuild their lives. They have over twenty years of on-the-ground experience working with women in countries affected by conflict, and facilitate a year-long programme that enables women to earn money, regain confidence and actively participate in their communities. Follow them on Facebook to find out some of the activities they run around Edinburgh to raise funds to support a sister through the programme!

Deceber 17 — Find your local food bank and donate sanitary towels and tampons

Sanitary products are not cheap — on average, women in the UK spend £13 on them every month. For many women and girls, buying tampons and sanitary towels is not an option. This leads some girls to miss days of school when they’re on their period.

Food banks don’t only take food, they also take sanitary products, along with toiletries and household items such as washing up liquid. Find your nearest food bank and donate sanitary products, so all women and girls can feel confident and healthy.

December 18 — Find out how you can support The Circle’s Nonceba Shelter for Women

The Nonceba Family Counselling Centre is located in Khayelitsha, a township just outside Cape Town. Khayelitsha is the largest township in the Western Cape province, South Africa, and has a high level of overcrowding and poverty. For years, unemployment and crime rates have been high, particularly around violence against women and children with little services and support for the victims.

Nonceba offers women who have survived violence everything they need to regain their confidence and independence — accommodation, health care, counselling, legal advice, vocational skills training and a nursery for their children.

December 19 — Listen to Engender Women’s Podcast, “On The Engender”

“On the Engender” is Scotland’s feminist policy podcast, produced by Engender and featuring the voices of experts from across Scotland’s women’s sector. The podcast explores issues relating to women’s equality in Scotland, from local democracy to reproductive rights, and from the criminal justice system to care reform. Produced by Amanda Stanley and Rhiannon Walsh for Engender.

December 20 — Listen to “Babestation” on Subcity Radio

Every other Wednesday, “Babestation” is broadcast from 19.00-20.00 by two Glasgow University students and is dedicated to bringing you music exclusively by women and LGBT+ musicians. Creating an important space for women and LGBT musicians in this creative industry.

December 21 — Watch “A Girl Who Demanded School”: TED talk from Kakenya Ntaiya

Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo a traditional Maasai rite of passage, female circumcision, if he would let her go to high school. Ntaiya tells the fearless story of continuing on to college, and of working with her village elders to build a school for girls in her community, changing the destiny of 125 young women.

December 22 — Read Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, by Bell Hooks

In this cultural criticism classic, Bell Hooks offers an open-hearted and welcoming vision of gender and calls for a feminism that breaks barriers: “A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving,” she writes. “There can be no love without justice.”

Find it in your local library or make it a last minute addition to your Christmas list!

December 23 — Find out how you can support The Circle’s Educate Girls Project

Our partner Educate Girls has two main goals: to increase girls’ enrolment and retention rates, and to improve the quality of education.

They first identify and enrol girls who are out of school through a team of community-based volunteers. To increase school retention rates, Educate Girls works with communities to raise awareness of the importance of educating girls, improves the quality of education, makes school installations more suitable for girls and imparts life-skills training to an elected Girl Council of adolescent girls.

December 24 — Watch The True Cost

Insightful and heartbreaking, this film looks at the price workers around the world have to pay in order to keep the cost of clothing down. Including footage of the Rana Plaza collapse which killed 1,129 people in 2013, the groundbreaking documentary unravels the unseen world of the fast fashion industry.

The Lawyers Circle recently published Fashion Focus: The Fundamental Right to a Living Wage. This cutting-edge report sets out the arguments to defend the living wage as a fundamental right, and the duties of companies and governments to uphold this right.

Written by Anna Renfrew.
Anna Renfrew is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Scottish Circle.


On feminism in Buenos Aires and Chai Day

Photo: Fiona at her Chai Day at the University of Bristol.

The Circle volunteer Fiona Gilligan shares her experience supporting a women’s rights NGO in Buenos Aires and how it inspired her to organise a Chai Day at the University of Bristol.

I was fortunate enough to spend the first six months of 2016 in Buenos Aires, combining my interest in fashion and textiles with a cause I feel incredibly strongly about – women’s rights and gender equality.

In Argentina, it is a widely circulated statistic published by the NGO La Casa del Encuentro that a woman dies every thirty hours due to gender-based violence. That is to say, women up and down the country are being killed every day for being women.

Therefore, in recent years there has been a rise in the number of NGOs dedicated solely to the needs of women. Mediapila is one such organisation. It is dedicated to empowering and mobilising women through sewing and dressmaking workshops. The overall aim of the foundation is to provide women from underprivileged backgrounds with the skills and, more importantly, the confidence, to be able to find employment in the textiles industry.

The foundation works solely with women, as they believe that women symbolise the root to social change. Working towards a better future for these women enables them to also provide a better future for their children and families, thus changing society on a greater scale.

I was struck by the creativity and tenacity of the women at the foundation, many of whom were in the process of developing their own businesses alongside their studies at the foundation.  They all possessed an incredible passion to learn and a genuine desire to change their lives for the better. I formed strong relationships with many of them, in particular María, a former student who had gone on to become a teacher at the foundation. María’s infectious laughter filled the workshop each day and was a reminder to all the women of the power of female strength and beauty. Despite experiencing such hardship in the shape of forced migration, discrimination and poverty, María embraced each day with a smile. I felt privileged to be working with such strong and inspirational women like María on a daily basis.

My experience in Buenos Aires made me very aware that, although we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality, we have many privileges as women in the UK. All women should have access to the same opportunities in order to reach their full potential in life. This is a joint responsibility, and it is essential that we collectively recognise this in order to achieve gender equality.

This motivated me to get involved with further gender equality projects when I returned to university in Bristol. My friend Erin was doing an internship at The Circle and told me about Chai Day. It is a great initiative that brings people together over a cup of chai in order to raise awareness and funds to combat gender-based violence in the UK, India and South Africa. It was incredibly easy to organise. The Circle provides a detailed information pack, as well as a poster template to advertise your Chai Day around your university, workplace, or wherever you are planning to hold it. All that was left to do was to get baking! I was incredibly pleased with the support from other students and with the amount we managed to collectively raise.

If you would like to hold your own Chai Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence in your community, inspire your friends or colleagues, and raise funds to support women who have survived violence, go to www.chaiday.org.


Annie Lennox’s interview for The Independent: on Eurythmics, Nelson Mandela and global feminism

 

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.” 

Go to full article.