The Circle’s Feminist Advent Calendar

The Circle Feminist Advent Calendar

1 December – TED x LondonWomen (London)

Join TED for the day as they turn their attention to uncover how women and non-binary and genderqueer people around the world over are ‘Showing Up’, facing challenges head on, and no longer accepting the status quo.

2018 has been named the ‘Year of the Woman’: all over the world, diverse groups are rising up, breaking out, pushing boundaries, and joining forces to pioneer real change, in business, technology, art, science, and politics.

2 December – LFFF: Feminist animation films – Leeds Animation Workshop at 40! (London)

London Feminist Film Festival presents an afternoon of feminist animation films by the amazing Leeds Animation Workshop, to celebrate their 40th birthday. They’ll be showing a selection of their best feminist shorts from the last four decades, followed by a Q&A, and will also have an exhibition of their artwork and archive material.

3 December – An Evening with Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (London)

This UK-exclusive event, at The Southbank Centre, in collaboration with Penguin Live, presents Michelle Obama in conversation about her highly anticipated new memoir, ‘Becoming’, with acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Reflecting on her memoir, Michelle Obama invites the audience at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive, balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.

The moderator for the evening, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is the bestselling author of the novels ‘Purple Hibiscus’, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, which won the Orange Prize; and ‘Americanah’, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of the ten best books of 2013 by The New York Times. In 2012 she published ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ and her most recent book, ‘Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’, was published in March 2017.

4 December – We Need To Talk About Masculinity (London)

In discussions of contemporary feminism, it is no longer enough to talk about how society shapes the way women think and act. It is equally, if not more, important to consider how the gender binary impacts the way men behave; often to extreme measures. The construct of masculinity creates a suffocating environment for young boys to grow up in, that fosters insecurity, isolation, and even aggression. This evening we want to explore how film depicts what it means to ‘be a man’ today, and how this relates to the current climate of the film industry in Hollywood.

Join Kings College London for a screening of The Mask You Live In (Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2015) plus a post-screening discussion and Q&A with guest speakers in partnership with The Representation Project.

5 December – RSVP for our Chiswick Chai Day (Chiswick)

Our members Laura and Lydia are inviting other members to their Chai Day on 8 December in Chiswick, London. This Chai Day is unique opportunity to connect with other like-minded people and to have a much loved item of clothing or jewellery mended at the ‘Repair Café’! This innovative Chai Day event is ideal for members working in or interested in sustainable fashion as the day promises to be a delicious gathering around discussion for The Circles two main objectives; ending gender-based violence and advocating for a living wage for workers in the garment industry.

RSVP now to attend this weekend!

6 December – Reclaim the Night (Ipswitch)

On the 6th December 2018 women from across Suffolk will march to Reclaim the Night.

‘Just like many women before us we will raise our voices as one to demand an end to sexual violence … we will come together to highlight the unacceptable levels of violence against women within our communities and throughout the world. We will demand the right to use our streets in safety on this night and every night. And we will call on our politicians, local businesses and organisations to do their part to end violence against women.’

7 December – Women’s Strike Christmas Party /Decrim Now/ Fundraiser 4 UVW (London)

Join the Women’s Strike Assembly and the Socialist Feminist Campus Collective for the Women’s Strike Christmas party.

The New Year is near and for students the first term is almost over. And once again, these groups will be taking over your space with feminist festivity.

They will be starting off the night with a talk on decriminalisation of sex work and how sex workers are organising to fightback against exploitation. Then they will be gracing you with the most banging DJs, dance performances and drag.

All proceeds will go to supporting the mighty Ministry of Justice cleaners and security staff balloting for strike action and demanding the London Living Wage. Raise money by raising the roof at the best feminist party in town.

Together let’s rise like flowers through the cracks of the concrete city and join forces against exploitative work practices and injustice. It’s time for some collective joy.

8 December – Revolutionary Women Film Festival! (London)

Taking place in the SOAS buildings, this day is to include films and short clips on revolutionary women throughout history and the world including stories of Women in Mexican factories organise themselves to fight against exploitation and the destruction of their communities and ‘Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners’ in which Communist and revolutionary Angela Davis discusses the actions that led to her imprisonment and the worldwide political movement for her freedom.

9 December – Book your ticket to Women and Weapons (London)

For over a century women activists have played a leading role in seeking universal disarmament and arms control and in initiating peace projects – from the 1915 Women’s Peace Congress in The Hague through to the negotiations for the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty in 2017. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has continuously lobbied for ‘total and universal disarmament’ and for nineteen years women protested at Greenham Common against the placing of cruise missiles in the UK. Despite these and many other efforts it is argued that rather than promoting peace, contemporary international law sustains militarism and legitimates the use of force. In addition new technologies are constantly used to increase the global weapons arsenal.

Join London School of Economic’s Centre for Women, Peace and Security for a thought-provoking debate with some of the subjects leading minds.

10 December – Stories of Women: Feminist Life Drawing (London)

At this Stories of Women event, held at The Feminist Library, we are women drawing women; drawing each other – there is the chance to try life modelling yourself, or you may come to draw and/or listen or join in the conversation. There will be themed discussion about the body politics of life modelling and related matters, as well as plenty of time for questions you may bring. There is guidance for new models – no experience necessary, and some drawing materials are provided – again no experience necessary.

Life modelling and drawing are a really good way to address body image issues, as well as gaining confidence and broadening our experience by stepping out of our comfort zones. Teenage girls welcome.

11 December – Leadership for Women (Birmingham)

The Sister Sister Network is proud to be hosting their very first Birmingham event. e They are inviting their members to this educative and impactful session with highly skilled leaders who are keen to bridge the gap between leadership and aspiring leaders. Tickets are free but spaces are limited.

Leadership for Women set out in 2018 to reach women in multiple global cities with a revised approach to leadership development and training. Their approach is simple but powerful – a blend of education and inspiration to support leadership development, inspire action and help women step up across communities.

The results have been powerful. With more women crediting their increased leadership awareness and performance to the Leadership for Women Series.

They wish to offer women the skills, tools and essential understanding to support effective leadership development and the opportunity to network and share ideas with female leaders in the community.

12 December – Economic Abuse, Austerity and the Impact on Women (London)

This seminar creates space to learn about economic abuse and the particular implications of the government’s austerity agenda.

Government recently recognised economic abuse as one of many forms of violence against women and girls. Economic abuse encompasses a range of mechanisms for violence, exploitation and impoverishment. However, despite gaining increasing public attention, the power of abusive men in relationships has been exacerbated by a swathe of welfare benefit reforms justified as part of the government’s austerity measures, the latest of which is Universal Credit. The speakers will shed light on their research into these experiences and make recommendations for change.

13 December – Women in Sports Journalism (Cardiff)

2018 has been a watershed year for women in many ways, not least in increasingly prominent roles covering sports on our screens, over the airways, online and in print.
NUJ Training Wales is delighted to be working with Cardiff Metropolitan University and Welsh equalities charity Chwarae Teg to bring together some of the leading female voices from the Welsh sports media and beyond for this important half-day conference.
Carolyn Hitt writer and columnist for the Western Mail and BBC Cymru Wales’ Dot Davies will chair our industry expert panels on print/online journalism and broadcast journalism will include Anna Kessel MBE, co-founder of Women in Football and journalist at The Guardian, Beth Fisher, Freelance Broadcast Journalist with BBC Sport Wales, Catrin Pascoe, Editor of The Western Mail, and Katie Sands, Welsh Journalist of the Year 2018.
There will also be a special panel of female sports journalism students who will share their motivations, their career plans and their hopes for the future.
The event will examine issues including the representation of women’s sport, the challenges faced by women working across the sports media industry and changing attitudes of commissioners and audiences alike.

14 December – Unveiling of Emmeline Pankhurst statue (Manchester)

The eagerly-awaited bronze sculpture of Emmeline Pankhurst is set to be unveiled in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square today. Designed by sculptor Hazel Reeves, the statue will show Pankhurst standing on a chair as if addressing a crowd, with one arm outstretched; she will face towards the Free Trade Hall, a venue for radical suffragette activism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

15 December – Buy a piece from The Circle X SeeMe Jewellery Collection

Adorn yourself or a loved one with an elegant and unique piece of jewellery from the SeeMe X The Circle collection. See Me and The Circle have launched a beautiful and ethically-made jewellery collection to celebrate ten years of Women Empowering Women. SeeMe employs women, often single mothers, who have suffered violence and were ostracised from their communities in Tunisia. Through training SeeMe employees learn the craft of jewellery making following ancient Tunisian techniques. Therefore, while fostering their country’s traditions, they also secure a workplace for themselves and a future for their families. The perfect Christmas present!

16 December – Read Lindsey Hilsum’s In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

When Marie Colvin was killed in an artillery attack in Homs, Syria, in 2012, at age fifty-six, the world lost a fearless and iconoclastic war correspondent who covered the most significant global calamities of her lifetime. In Extremis, written by her fellow reporter Lindsey Hilsum, is a thrilling investigation into Colvin’s epic life and tragic death based on exclusive access to her intimate diaries from age thirteen to her death, interviews with people from every corner of her life, and impeccable research.

17 December – Watch The Sex Trade

This feature documentary is a study of the sex trade, a reality that has expanded worldwide to become a true industry, both online and off, over the course of the past few decades. Part investigative report and part editorial, the film is a foray into a brutal world whose key players trivialize the impact of their actions by claiming that prostitution is simply a service like any other. But who’s really benefiting?

The Calgary Circle held a screening of this in November in support of The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta.

18 December – Watch the True Cost

Before you go out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, watch this.

This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. “The True Cost” is a ground-breaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, “The True Cost” is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.

19 December – Reading group for Women of Colour (Edinburgh)

Organised by the Glasgow Women’s Library are excited to be running a new reading group in Edinburgh for women of colour to come together and discuss literature by women writers of colour. The group is free to attend and will be discussing a number of authors such as Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay, Ruri Kaur and Sim Bajwa.

20 December – Read Lucy Siegle’s To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

In this impassioned book, Siegle analyses the global epidemic of unsustainable fashion, taking stock of our economic health and moral accountabilities to expose the pitfalls of fast fashion. Refocusing the debate squarely back on the importance of basic consumer rights, Siegle reveals the truth behind cut price, bulk fashion and the importance of your purchasing decisions, advocating the case for a new sustainable design era where we are assured of value for money: ethically, morally and in real terms.

Get it as a gift, or for yourself!

21 December – Make fundraising plans for next year

Set targets, think about what projects you want to support. Your activist New Year’s Resolution, if you will.

22 December – Watch City of Joy

How does one find joy amid unspeakable tragedy? Madeleine Gavin’s documentary City of Joy, about a community built around women who have survived horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gives us a glimpse at both an incredible injustice still occurring today, and how Congolese women are combating it with their own grassroots movement.

“Everything is about love at City of Joy,” Schuler Deschryver told the Guardian. She described how many of the women who first arrive at City of Joy associate being touched only with violence. “So when you hug her and tell her she’s beautiful, that you love her, that you will fight for her, suddenly she’s like: ‘Oh my God, I exist. I’m a human being.’ You see the joy that [the women] have and know what they’ve passed through. I think that’s one of the reasons I wake up every morning.”

Find it on Netflix now!

23 December – Gift a membership

Last minute Christmas gift? Gift a membership!!

We have added the option to Gift a Membership on our website! Whether the recipient is your mother, your daughter, an aunt, a colleague, a partner or friend; The Circle membership is the perfect gift for a woman who wants to become more actively involved in the global women’s movement, bring attention to important issues and amplifying the voices of vulnerable women. The perfect Christmas gift of empowerment this year!

24 December – Feminism is for everybody

Read Bell Hookes’ classic Feminism Is For Everybody.

‘Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.’ So begins Feminism is for Everybody, a short, accessible introduction to feminist theory by one of its most influential practitioners. Designed to be read by all genders, this book provides both a primer to the question ‘what is feminism?’ and an argument for the enduring importance of the feminist movement today.

#WomenEmpoweringWomen #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist


Feminist Calendar: November 2018

Image credit: Rowan Powell ft. painting by Zadie Xa

Stay out of the cold and go along to some of these amazing events throughout November!

3 November – Windrush Women: The Conflict of the Mother Country (London)

As part of the New Suns Feminist Literary Festival, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, gal-dem deputy editor, leads a panel discussion exploring the experiences and myths surrounding the Caribbean matriarch in the UK.

Many of the Windrush generation who came to Britain were promised to find a mythical land where the streets were paved with gold. When the Windrush docked on 22nd June 1948, its 498 Carribean passengers (plus stowaways) who had travelled arrived in the hope of finding better paid work and living prospects. Often it was the Carribean woman whose identity and experiences captured the experience of dislocation and struggle. In some instances, the history of their struggle has been erased and now in the aftermath of the Windrush scandal, second and third generation Carribean migrants want to change the narrative.

The panel discussion has been covered with gal-dem and features journalist Kemi Alemoru, lecturer Sharon Frazer-Carroll and make-up artist Kay Montano.

6 November – Revolting Prostitutes: Juno Mac and Molly Smith on the Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (Glasgow)

Do you have to think that prostitution is good to support sex worker rights? How do sex worker rights fit with feminist and anti-capitalist politics? Is criminalising clients progressive—and can the police deliver justice?

In conversation, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith discuss their new book Revolting Prostitutes, which brings a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement. The conversation will be chaired by Layla-Roxanne Hill.

10 November – The Vavengers Chai Day (London)

The Circle is proud to be teaming up with The Vavengers for this night of music and conversation to raise awareness about Chai Day, a campaign to eliminate gender-based violence. Short for ‘Vagina Avengers’, The Vavengers are a team of creatives based in London who organise events to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Join us for a night of entertainment and inspiring music from Before Breakfast, Cecillia Knapp and Quiet Man. It is the perfect opportunity to learn more about Chai Day and be inspired to host your own Chai Day on November 25th!
Proceeds from ticket sales will be going to support La Fraternite, a grass-roots charity that campaigns to end FGM by organising workshops for the Guinean Community in and around London. There will also be opportunities to give donations on the night that will all go towards The Circle’s Chai Day grass-roots projects based in South Africa, India and the UK!

15 November – The Sex Trade Screening (Calgary)

Join The Calgary Circle for a screening of The Sex Trade, by Canadian filmmaker Eve Lamont.

This feature documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the sex industry operating in Canada and investigates who benefits. A short question and answer period with representatives from The Action Coalition on Human Trafficking Alberta (ACT) and the RCMP will follow the film.

A reception, with wine and beer, will be held before the screening. Doors open at 6:30 pm and film starts at 7:00 pm.

Come out and join us as we learn more about this challenging and important issue facing so many women and girls and help us raise funds in support of ACT’s work helping victims of human trafficking.

18 November – The Asian Circle Anniversary Chai Day (London)

Come and join us to celebrate The Asian Circle’s 5th Anniversary, generously hosted by The LaLit Hotel London, where stunning Victorian grandeur meets Indian opulence.
Our VIPs and guests will meet just after midday at at a drinks reception on the heated terrace. This is followed by The Lalit’s famous exquisite High Chai in the Baluchi Great Hall with its breathtaking Hyderabadi blue chandeliers.
Hear about our successful project in rural communities in Chhattisgarh, India, to reduce domestic violence and empower women and girls. The award-winning project created in partnership with Oxfam India and local NGOs has been recently adopted for state wide deployment. All funds raised on the day will be donated to this project.
Come dressed for the occasion in your Maharani & Maharaja finery for High Chai.

17-18 November – WOW Festival Bradford (Bradford)

The Circle is proud to announce that we will be part of the third annual Women Of The World Festival in Bradford.

WOW Bradford promises to be a weekend of talks, discussions, music, activism, performance, mentoring and big ideas, and we’ll be hearing from women who are breaking the mold in science, entrepreneurship, the arts, sport, economics, health and business from Bradford, nationally and internationally. There are sessions on everything from personal lives though to global concerns, including race, body image, violence against women and girls, religion, the role of men in gender equality and even a special one-off set from Kate Tempest.

The Circle’s Relationship Manager, Peta Barrett, will be at our stall at the WOW Market Place all weekend sharing information about the important part we play in the global movement for gender equality. We hope to see you there!
If you are based in or around Braford and interested in becoming a member, or helping us to manage our stall, send your information through on our Contact Us page and we’ll be in touch!

24 November – Sisters Beyond the Workplace: Working-class Women & Political & Social Reform (Manchester)

Half day conference organised by the SSLH followed by AGM. This free event will include a number of academic speakers talking on a range of subjects to do with feminist activism, gender inequality and working women.

24-25 November – Wow Festival Cardiff (Cardiff)

The Circle is proud to announce that we will be part of the WOW – Women Of The World Festival in Cardiff, on 24 and 25 November.
The WOW Festival will include a range of workshops, talks, debates, performances and art open to the public. Some highlights from the WOW Festival Cardiff programme include: Gwenno Saunders, Charlotte Church, Michael Sheen, Sian Evans, Lula Mehbratu (The Digital Migrant),Sahar Al-Faifi, Sian James former MP, Gemma Price (Boxing Pretty), Anna Hursey, Shahien Taj OBE, Lucy Owen (BBC Wales) and Layfullstop among others.

As part of the festival, The Cwtch Café is hosting a Chai Day event with The Circle and Henna Foundation from 10:30 to 12:30 on Sunday 25 November.
Chai Day is about gathering together friends, family or colleagues and using that time to raise awareness about violence against women and to raise money to support survivors and work towards ending gender-based violence.
Join us at The Cwtch Café from 10:30 – 12:30 to hear from our Relationship Manager, Peta Barrett, who will be sharing information about our grass-roots projects supported by Chai Day. We are thrilled to be sharing this important platform with The Henna Foundation’s Executive Director, Shahien Taj, who will be sharing more about the services they provide to muslim families and encouraging safer, stronger communities through raising awareness of key issues they may face.

25 November – Reclaim the Night! (London)

In the climate of #MeToo, #YoTambien and #BalanceTonPorc, Reclaim the Night is as relevant as ever – if not more so. Violence against women continues to occur every minute of every day, but women everywhere are making a stand.
Join us for London Reclaim the Night! Close down central London for women, put your feet on the streets to shout a loud NO to rape and all forms of male violence against women.Join us and join millions across the globe who will be marking the annual United Nations Day to End Violence Against Women (25th November) with demonstrations and marches.

Reclaim the Night came to the UK 40 years ago, in 1977. One of the first marches took place in Leeds where women took to the streets to protest the police requesting women to stay at home after dark in response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders. Placards read “No curfew on women – curfew on men”. It is hard to believe we are still marching 40 years later, yet the recent outpouring of #MeToo on social media only makes it clear why this is important. The statistics speak for themselves: two women a week are killed by their male partner or ex-partner. One in three women experience sexual abuse of some kind in their lifetime. This is unacceptable. This march is a show of strength and a collective demand for freedom from sexual violence and harassment.

25 November – Circle Member Katie’s Chai Day (London)

Katie Rose is hosting a Chai Day which is open to all who want to raise awareness and funds to help end gender-based violence and support women and girls through The Circle’s Chai Day Projects.
Bring friends and cake to share – to suit your dietary requirements. People of all genders welcome!
The event will be collecting donations for The Circle (suggested donation £5) and sanitary products for local Period Poverty Charity We-STAP

25 November – Dead Women Walking – The March (Manchester and Devon)

Remembering the women killed by known men in the UK A peaceful creative ‘Murder March’ to remember and represent the women murdered in the UK by partners, ex-partners, family members i.e. domestic violence murders.

This #DeadWomenWalking walk is to raise awareness of the women behind the statistics of domestic violence murders. Raising awareness of domestic violence and fatal male violence against women to coincide with International day for the elimination of violence against women and the 16 days of action.
The walk will be a visual and respectful march of women wearing red ponchos – During the walk the names of all the women killed by known men in the last 12 months will be read out. This is an event for women – women representing women killed and women stewarding themselves. Men are welcome to donate if they’d like to support.

28 November – Our Chai Day in London (London)

The Circle members are invited to our Chai Day, where we will discuss gender-based violence and what we can do to help end it. With guest speakers and the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for some of our amazing projects, this is not to be missed. Taking place within the 16 Days of Action, our Chai Day is a way to get your friends or colleagues together over a cup of tea, to raise awareness about gender-based violence and raise funds to support survivors and help end violence against women and girls.

30 November – Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality Conference (London)

CTDC is delighted to announce its third annual conference titled Decolonising Knowledge around Gender and Sexuality, and organised in partnership with Kohl: Journal for Bodily and Gender Research, and UCL taking place on November 30, 2018 at UCL.

The conference will bring in a number of practitioners, students, artists, and academics from Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia to discuss themes around decolonising discourses around gender and sexuality in academia and beyond, shedding light on feminist pedagogy, sexual liberation, reproductive justice and positionality. In addition to that, our speakers will also highlight the potential for arts-informed inquiry to decolonise methodology and will also demonstrate how imported forms of feminisms, particularly those relying on social media, are not the way forward for gender and sexual justice.

The conference will kick off with a keynote panel discussion by Kohl editors and CTDC directors, who will explore the importance of decolonising methodologies in research and practice and in relation to Global South knowledge production.

 

#WomenEmpoweringWomen


Feminist Calendar: September and October 2018

Photo credit: People’s History Museum

Our volunteer Anna Renfrew’s guide to feminism this autumn!

13 September — Indian Suffragettes, Female Identities and Transnational Networks (London)

Dr Sumita Mukherjee looks at the activities of Indian campaigners for the female vote in Asia, Europe, USA, Britain and other parts of the British Empire, and how they had an impact on campaigns in the Indian subcontinent.

In the context of her new book, she discusses the experiences of the Indian suffragettes who travelled around the world to lobby the British parliament, attend international women’s conferences and conduct speaking tours to gather support for Indian women.

Dr Mukherjee will demonstrate the ways in which the suffrage movement was a truly global enterprise, not solely confined to Britain or America, that involved and affected women from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Come to listen to this fascinating talk, have a bite to eat in the Pay What You Can Cafe and view The Women’s Hall exhibition at the same time!

14 September — The True Cost Screening (London)

As part of London Fashion Week, The Circle and the UK Asian Film Festival are organising a one-night-only screening of “The True Cost”, produced by The Circle founding member Livia Firth.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Livia Firth, author of “Slave to Fashion” Safia Minney and Jessica Simor QC, co-author of The Lawyers Circle report “Fashion Focus: the Fundamental Right to a Living Wage”.

20 September — The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Activism, Islam and Democracy (London)

Ayesha’s book details the history of women’s social, legal and political status in Pakistan as contested through its urban-based modern women’s movement. Since the 1980s, a small but influential group of activists have been advocating for their rights, the restoration of democracy and a secular state.

This began in response to the state’s growing use of Islam for political purposes, which peaked under General Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule (1977-88), during which the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan and rise of political Islam worked in favor of his domestic policy of Islamization. Pakistan became an increasingly exclusionary state, with religious minorities and women facing growing discrimination.

Despite setbacks, such as another period of military rule and rise of the Taliban, activists succeeded in winning back some of their rights. Recent years have seen unprecedented legislative reform, policy changes to reverse discrimination and the first substantial increase in women’s political participation.

23 September — Women Making Change (Glasgow)

Explore the place of women in change-making with this empowering and celebratory event, presented in partnership with the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Through an afternoon of talks, panel discussions and workshops we will celebrate the achievements women have made in shaping a fairer and more balanced political, social and cultural landscape —and, in keeping with Take One Action’s raison d’être, explore current challenges in civil society, politics, media and international development.

Hear from Naila Ayesh, protagonist of “Naila and the Uprising” and founder and director of the Women’s Affairs Centre in Gaza, as she reflects on her personal experience of being on the frontlines of political change; explore how we can achieve better representation for women in policy, environmentalism, culture and academia through an inclusive panel discussion; and develop your own practical skills and understanding of activism and creative resistance through a selection of interactive workshops.

27 September — Slay In Your Lane (Glasgow)

“Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible” by Yomi Adegoke & Elizabeth Uviebinené —in Conversation with Tomiwa Folorunso at Glasgow Women’s Library

Black women today are facing uniquely challenging experiences in all aspects of their lives. Yet when best friends Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené searched for a book that addressed these challenges they realised none existed. So “Slay in Your Lane” —the lovechild of exasperation and optimism— was born.

From education, to work, to dating, to representation, money and health, this inspirational, honest and provocative “Black Girl Bible” explores the ways in which being black and female affects each of these areas —and offers advice and encouragement on how to navigate them.

Illustrated with stories from Elizabeth and Yomi’s own lives and from interviews with dozens of the most successful black women in Britain —including Amma Asante, Charlene White, Jamelia, Denise Lewis, Malorie Blackman and Dawn Butler MP— “Slay in Your Lane” recognizes and celebrates the strides black women have already made, whilst providing practical advice and inspiration for those who want to do the same and forge a better, visible future.

9 October — How Science Got Women Wrong, with Angela Saini (Oxford)

Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini, to mark Ada Lovelace Day, will talk about how women are being rediscovered. She will explore what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, revealing an alternative view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded.

This talk will be followed by a drinks reception, book sale and signing.

11 October — Womens’ Lives Leeds Drop-In Session (Leeds)

Womens’ Lives Leeds are holding a weekly drop-in session in the GATE every Thursday morning for women who’d like to speak to someone in confidence about their health, wellbeing or relationships.

No appointment needed, just call in to the GATE any time between 11 am and 12 pm on Thursday mornings.

Women are also welcome to their weekly women-only walk, which sets off from the GATE at 10 am.

13 and 14 October — WOW Festival Exeter

The Circle is proud to announce that we will be part of the second annual Women Of The World Festival in Exeter. The festival is taking place on 13 and 14 October across three venues —RAMM, Exeter Phoenix and Exeter Library. The programme is jam packed with artists, writers, politicians, comedians and activists. It is bound to be an inspiring and thought-provoking weekend.

The Circle’s Relationship Manager Peta Barrett will be joining a panel discussion focused on “Building the Sisterhood”. We will also be sharing information about the important part we play in the global movement for gender equality at the WOW Market Place.

We hope to see you there!

If you are based in or around Exeter and are interested in becoming a member, get in touch before the event and come say hi.

18 October — Women of Colour in UK Labour History: Film + Discussion (London)

Join us for a documentary screening about the 1976 Grunwick Strike, which was led largely by migrant women workers of South Asian origin.

The film will be followed by a panel discussion about the overlooked contribution of WOC in labour history, as well as interactions of race, class and gender in industrial action and activism.

Throughout autumn, until 31 December — A Woman’s Place: Ambleside’s Feminist Legacy (Leeds)

This exhibition at Armitt Museum in Cumbria celebrates the pioneering women who lived in the local area in times gone by —from journalist Harriet Martineau, often described as the first female sociologist, to the author and conservationist Beatrix Potter.

Until 2019 — Represent! Voices 100 Years On (Manchester)

This exhibition reflects on those who campaigned for better representation, most famously the suffragists and the militant suffragettes. The recently acquired Manchester suffragette banner will be displayed for the first time alongside sashes, brooches, photographs and cartoons, helping to paint a picture of what representation meant in 1918.

This family-friendly exhibition also questions how far we have really come in 100 years. It gives a platform to individuals and communities, including LGBT+ youth charity The Proud Trust and Safety4Sisters, who are still fighting to make their voices heard today. Crowdsourced items, including placards from the 2017 Women’s Marches and a jumpsuit from the Sisters Uncut 2018 BAFTA protest, tell the very personal stories of today’s movements and campaigns.


Facts and Myths about Sex Trafficking in Canada

Photo credit: Matthew S. Browning.

The Calgary Circle, the newest affiliate in our sisterhood of Circles, is supporting ACT Alberta, an organisation that works to end human trafficking in Alberta, Canada. To help end human trafficking it is important to understand the issue better, which is why The Calgary Circle committee members Helen Maguire and Susan Ferner have written this list of facts and myths about human trafficking in Canada. If you’d like to find out more about their work with ACT Alberta and donate, please click here.

FACT: HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE

The legal definition of human trafficking requires three elements:
1) the act of recruitment, transportation or harbouring a person;
2) by means of exercising control, direction or influence over their movements;
3) for the purpose of exploiting that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour.

Due to the clandestine nature of trafficking, it is difficult to quantify the number and determine the types of victims, but it is believed that most trafficking victims in Canada are sexually exploited.

MYTH: TRAFFICKING IS THE SAME AS SMUGGLING

Although the idea of trafficking can invoke a nefarious vision of a victim being transported across borders under cover of darkness, the reality is often far different. Trafficking victims are not necessarily moved across international borders and approximately 94% of the cases of sex trafficking identified in Canada have occurred within its borders.

FACT: TRAFFICKING IS BIG BUSINESS

Sex trafficking can be less problematic, easier to conceal and more profitable than selling drugs. On
average, every trafficked woman in Canada generates just under $300,000 for her traffickers per year.

MYTH: ONLY CERTAIN PEOPLE ARE CONSIDERED TO BE “AT RISK”

The major risk factors for being trafficked are living in poverty; having a personal history of violence or neglect; or being otherwise vulnerable to manipulation and coercion. However, the number one risk factor is being female. Women and children from every socio-economic background are at risk and anyone can be targeted and exploited.

FACT: VICTIMS ARE PREDOMINANTELY WOMEN

Approximately 95% of trafficked victims are female: most under the age of 25. Of note, in Canada, indigenous women are disproportionately affected. Although indigenous people make up approximately 4% of the population, they account for approximately 50% of sex trafficking victims.

MYTH: VICTIMS ARE PHYSICALLY FORCED INTO TRAFFICKING

Relationships between traffickers and their victims often begin with what the victim believes to be a friendship or romantic relationship. A common technique used by traffickers is to lure teens and young women into sex trafficking by treating them well, initially. Many victims are recruited through the internet or by an acquaintance. Often, the victim is “groomed” by someone pretending to be her boyfriend or friend who promises her a better life and buys her gifts. The average age of girls who are manipulated in this manner is 13. In the case of older teens or young women, the trafficker also buys gifts and may promise her a good job in a new city. Once a relationship has developed, the trafficker is able to more easily emotionally manipulate the victim and exploit her vulnerabilities. The trafficker often becomes violent and may threaten and isolate the victim but continue to show occasional affection. Through these tactics, the trafficker gains control and the victim can be coerced into selling sex for others’ profit. Because of the nature of the relationship and how it is developed, the victim might not understand that she is being trafficked.

FACT: TRAFFICKING IS A HIDDEN CRIME

Much of the sex trade has moved away from the street to the internet. The solicitation of sex predominantly occurs online through local classified and escort pages, which makes it difficult to locate and identify sex trafficking victims. Victims often do not come forward for many reasons, including fear of retribution and further violence from their trafficker; fear of arrest because they have been coerced into performing illegal activities; lack of knowledge about their legal rights, and lack of understanding that they have been victimized and trafficked.

Prosecution is often difficult because victims are often frightened and unwilling to testify against the perpetrators. It can also be difficult to prove in court that the woman was, in fact, a victim and not a willing participant due to the coercive nature of the relationship between the victim and trafficker. Because of these reasons and more, most (60%) of trafficking cases in Canada have resulted in a decision of stayed or withdrawn whereas only 30% resulted in a guilty finding.

Written by Helen Maguire and Susan Ferner.


SeeMe x The Circle collection

 

See Me and The Circle have launched a beautiful and ethically-made jewellery collection to celebrate ten years of Women Empowering Women.

SeeMe is a fair-trade verified brand that produces sleek heart-shaped jewellery and accessories and provides ethical sourcing for other fashion brands.

SeeMe employs women, often single mothers, who have suffered violence and were ostracized from their communities in Tunisia. Through training SeeMe employees learn the craft of jewellery making following ancient Tunisian techniques. Therefore, while fostering their country’s traditions, they also secure a workplace for themselves and a future for their families.

In our joint collection, SeeMe’s heart is inserted into a circle to represent the unity and the empowerment among women that both SeeMe and The Circle support. All funds raised through the collection will go towards supporting marginalised women and girls.

Click here to shop the collection online.


Menstruation Matters

 

Menstruation matters, especially to the millions of girls being held back by their periods. Some studies show that in some parts of Uganda, 74% of girls believe that period pain is a sign of illness, 50% of girls avoid school because of their period and 43% believe that it is harmful to run or dance during their period.

The Music Circle is raising funds to support Irise International. With a donation from The Music Circle, Irise will be able to educate 2,000 girls about their menstrual and reproductive health and to make a wide range of sanitary products available in their communities, so that every girl has a choice. Help us reach our goal and donate by clicking here.


 
 

Here is what you can do to help…

Raise awareness

On 28 May, Menstrual Hygiene Day, make some noise on social media. Read up on why menstruation matters, be informed, tweet and post.

You can use some of the following Menstrual Hygiene Day signs. Personalise them, print them out, take a selfie with your sign and post it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtags #MenstruationMatters and #NoMoreLimits.


Menstruation Matters: understanding the solutions with social enterprise Sanitree

Photo: Bharat Singh and Martha Reilly, co-directors of Sanitree

This May we are celebrating Menstruation Matters and focussing on how we can make women and girls feel confident about menstruation. Sanitree, a social enterprise founded and run by a team of nine students of Edinburgh University, is an organization already doing incredible work with these aims in mind. Sanitree produce sustainable, reusable sanitary products for women living in India. This year, The Music Circle is planning to support Irise International, a similar project in Uganda, as well as donate sanitary products to foodbanks in the UK and raise awareness about Menstruation Matters. I caught up with Bharat Singh and Martha Reilly, the co-directors of Sanitree, to discuss the role that projects such as these play in the wider issue of period poverty and our attitudes towards our bodies.

A social enterprise is a business model that reinvests its profit margin back into the project and directly benefits local communities. Sanitree, a project that is working under the umbrella of Enactus, is still in its nascent stages as it was established in September of last year but already provides employment for twenty-seven women in the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, India. Shocked by the stigma surrounding menstruation in his home town Bhind, Bharat spoke about some of the devastating effects of period poverty in this community. He claims that “young girls in India can miss out on as much as 25% of their education, or even drop out” as a result of the difficulties association with menstruation. The pair tell me that affordability is a key factor in this. Some women simply cannot afford sanitary products and use unclean and unsafe substitutes such as sawdust. Furthermore, even with a conventional plastic sanitary pad, women face difficulties in disposing of them as they are not allowed in the household waste.

“Sanitree’s conception is just as much about challenging the stigma as finding a solution”

The Sanitree team, upon visiting Bhind, found that there was a wider cultural issue of a lack of awareness and encountered popular beliefs such as the myth that if you are to touch a boy whilst you are on your period that this can result in pregnancy. However, this stigma isn’t just the case in India. In the UK, there is also a huge stigma surrounding menstruation that can be difficult for young women. This stigma, I would argue, contributes towards the exclusion and dismissal of menstruation related issues in politics. Period poverty is a huge issue in the UK. It is estimated that the average woman spends £18,000 throughout her lifetime simply on having a period and in Scotland 1 in 5 women admit that they struggle to buy sanitary products —statistics that are woefully underrepresented in the media. The ongoing campaign to end the “Tampon Tax” and the classification of sanitary products as luxury items is indicative of the dismissal and lack of understanding shown by political bodies of the economic challenges currently posed by menstruation. In both India and UK there is a lack of knowledge about the issue and projects such as both Sanitree and Irise raise awareness simply by existing. Both Bharat and Martha are resolute on the fact that Sanitree’s conception is just as much about challenging the stigma as it is finding a solution.

An ecofeminist organization

In addition to the tangible benefits in terms of cost, the reusable sanitary pads do not incur the same environmental issues of similar plastic products. Bharat tells me that one sanitary pad can have the same amount of plastic as up to three plastic bags. As environmental sustainability is at the heart of Sanitree’s philosophy, the project considers itself an ecofeminist organization. The term ecofeminism originated in the 1970s and is grounded in the contention that the connection between the oppression of women and the rest of nature must be recognized to understand adequately both oppressions. Sanitree defines itself as ecofeminist as its aims are rooted in the shared concepts of environmentalism and feminism.

Both Bharat and Martha talk about the sense of agency that derives from taking control of your plastic consumption, likening it to “remembering your bag for life” and even quoting Simone De Beauvoir and her theory of transcendence versus immanence. Transcendence being the act of making decisions outside your personal sphere and immanence, traditionally associated with the feminine, as not engaging with projects outside of that sphere. Sanitree identify the decision to cut down one’s use of plastic as a transcendent act and, in what has been coined the “Blue Planet Effect”, argue that there has been a significant shift in our cultural consciousness regarding plastic and that this developing environmental consciousness can be viewed from a feminist perspective as a reclaiming of agency.

It is this sense of agency that I feel lies at the heart of why initiatives such as Sanitree and Irise are so powerful. Not only does Sanitree provide employment opportunities for women within their own community and have the end goal for the business to be completely taken over by these women, but they also engage people of all backgrounds and builds a community in speaking up against period stigma. The experience of menstruation is a transnational one and cannot be solved if there is no discussion surrounding it. Both Martha and Bharat wanted to establish from the start that not all women have periods and not all people who have periods are women and so Sanitree, and the ongoing debate surrounding menstruation, is a step towards coming to terms with our bodies in a way that is positive without being gendered.

One of The Circle’s key drives is “Women Empowering Women” and in the case of Sanitree it is clear that a sense of solidarity is becoming more and more visible as campaigns such as this grow. Both Martha and Bharat express the immense amount of support they have had from both the community in Bhind to the Scottish government’s commitment to this issue. They both believe that Scotland is a leader on progressive legislation and with the help of a number of MSPs, the group are campaigning for the provision of free sanitary products for those children who are offered free school meals, in addition to running pad making workshops and campaigning in the streets of Edinburgh.

The conversation surrounding menstrual wellbeing needs to be more open and frank to empower women and girls everywhere. Get a bloody education and find out more about The Circle’s Menstruation Matters Campaign and donate to our project with Irise International.

 

 

 

 

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


Why Menstruation Matters: tackling menstrual taboos in India

Photo: Volunteers at Restless Development, in Tamil Nadu.

The Circle member Shannon Hodge volunteered in rural village Thiruvalangadu in Tamil Nadu, India, for three months with youth-led development agency Restless Development, as part of the International Citizen Service, a global volunteering programme sending UK volunteers overseas to work with in-country volunteers. In Shannon’s placement community, she volunteered with six other UK volunteers and seven Indian volunteers, working on projects including livelihoods, health and menstrual health management.

In February 2018, the world’s first feature film addressing period poverty hit screens in India —and as I was working on a menstrual health project in one of South India’s rural villages at the time, the team and I went to see it.

The film is a fictionalised account of Padma Shri awardee (the fourth highest civilian award in India) Arunachalam Muruganantham, a school dropout from a poor family in southern India’s Tamil Nadu who revolutionised the manufacture of low-cost sanitary napkins for rural women.

Despite being an unlikely advocate for women’s menstrual health, Muruganantham’s story has opened up conversations across the country and the film’s themes are tackling many of the taboos long-engrained in Indian culture.

The film starts in 1998 when, discovering the dirty rag his wife used during her period, Muruganantham wanted to help. The rag was so dirty, he said, that he “wouldn’t even clean his scooter with it”, but to buy sanitary pads would mean sacrificing the family’s milk budget. As they couldn’t afford to buy them, he decided to make her one.

Due to not having the correct materials, it failed and despite begging his wife to try each new adaptation he made, she refused, leading him to look for other product testers.

However, due to the culture of silence and shame surrounding people openly discussing menstruation, the village found out about Muruganantham’s period project and he lost everything, including his family, home and wife.

Rather than giving up, he devoted the next twenty years of his life to inventing a simple machine to create low-cost sanitary pads. And what started as a selfless act of love for his wife’s health and safety turned into an enterprise that has helped millions of rural women in India.

Speaking to moviegoers afterwards, we heard lots of positive feedback, with both men and women saying it was: “very moving, thought-provoking and amazing to see what can come from such a small idea” and “it’s something everyone should see, as many villages are still facing these problems today”.

A woman who brought her nine-year-old daughter to the film also added: “My little girl came with me today as it’s such an important film and definitely worth seeing for girls like her. Everyone should see it”.

However, despite the feel-good ending of the film, the debilitating stigma and statistics surrounding menstrual health still exist today.

What is —and should be seen as— a normal biological process is viewed as impure. In fact, 70% of Indian mothers consider menstruation “dirty”— further perpetuating the culture of silence surrounding periods.

This is demonstrated in the film when Padman’s wife says: “For a woman, there is no bigger disease than shame”, as she admits that her husband openly talking about, making, and testing pads is worse than her getting a urinary tract infection from using her dirty cloth.

Like in the film, many women are still subjected to social, religious and cultural restrictions during their periods, which we learned more about when we held a female-only menstrual health management (MHM) session, made up of national and international volunteers.

We learned that activities such as worshipping in the temple, cooking, touching the water supply or even touching other people are forbidden for some girls during their periods. In many cases, girls are also made to eat separate meals and, though not as common today, some are made to sleep outside of the home in what are known as “menstruation huts”.

We also were told about the “entering into womanhood” ceremony which is held for some girls when they first start their period, to let the village know that they are “ready for marriage”. This is also something demonstrated in the film and something that I witnessed being advertised in the village where I stayed.

Once a girl has gone through the ceremony and starts having regular periods, she may also face difficulties at school gaining access to safe menstrual hygiene products and clean toilet and changing facilities.

In a study conducted by sexual and reproductive health and rights organisation, Rutgers, it was found that in rural India, 23% of girls listed menstruation as the chief reason for dropping out of school. And as many as 28% of them said they do not go to school during their period because they lack clean and affordable protection.

Compounded by the already high cost of pads, proper menstrual care remains out of reach for many rural women and girls in India. Without access to a basic cotton pad, many resort not only to rags but in some cases ash, newspaper and leaves.

When surveying women in the village of Thiruvalangadu, we had an aim to tackle the culture of silence around menstrual health management and research into ideas for a future income generation project.

Our findings showed that 25% of the women surveyed did not have access to sanitary pads, and despite the government having a scheme to provide free pads to girls between the ages of 10-19 in Tamil Nadu, we also found that 91% of women surveyed were offered no free menstrual hygiene products —and of the 9% who were, they weren’t given enough to see them through their monthly cycle.

Because of this, around two thirds of girls in India only change their menstrual cloths once daily. Women and girls using poor menstrual hygiene practices are 70% more likely to get a reproductive tract infection.

As part of our menstrual health management sessions at schools in the community, the team explained not only the biological process to young girls, but also worked with them to bust the myths surrounding periods and how they can manage their time of the month in the safest possible way —by really “pushing the pad” as a go-to product.

We also made the sessions a safe space where girls could ask questions anonymously throughout by posting them in a box and we would pick them out and answer them at the end of each session.

Working on menstrual health management projects with women and girls during my time in India really led me to look at how I can help within my own community, as period poverty is not only an issue overseas. In fact, in statistics published by Plan International, 1 in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary wear in the UK and 12% have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues.

Since returning, I have made it my mission to find projects preventing period poverty in the UK —including The Red Box Project, which provides free sanitary wear in schools nationwide; Bloody Good Period, which gives menstrual supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and those who can’t afford them in the UK, and Binti International, which has a mission to provide menstrual dignity to all girls, working on projects in India, Kenya, Swaziland, the US and here in the UK.

I’ve also located a local community project called Helping Homeless Women North East, where I’ve helped pack sanitary care packages which are handed out in homeless hostels and refuges across Newcastle.

If you don’t have time to volunteer but would like to put some money towards a cause preventing period poverty, then listen up… The incredible ladies at The Music Circle are raising funds for Irise International —an organisation educating girls on menstrual and reproductive health and making sanitary products available and affordable in their communities. Click here to learn more about the project and donate.

As Padman himself said: “Woman strong, mother strong, sister strong —then whole country strong”.

Written by @shanhodge.
Shannon Hodge is a Journalism graduate and a member of The Circle.


Widen Your Circle: with The Circle Member Dushy

Photo: Dushy and her family in Sri Lanka.

“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.

Click here to become a member of The Circle and Widen Your Circle.