Annie Lennox has featured in the Spring issue of Women in Leadership Magazine, in which she talks all things Global Feminism. You can download your copy here.
Annie Lennox has featured in the Spring issue of Women in Leadership Magazine, in which she talks all things Global Feminism. You can download your copy here.
Photo credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner
Across the globe, at least one in every three women has been beaten, physically or emotionally abused, or coerced into performing sexual acts. To ensure the safety and security of women is universally protected, we must continue to fight to elevate the rights of all – including migrant women. We have only truly achieved equality when all of us are free.
According to the crime survey for England and Wales, in the year ending March 2018, an estimated 1.3 million women experienced some form of domestic violence. Considering the sensitive nature of this issue, and the fact that a large majority of cases remain unreported, it is likely that this statistic is even higher. The UK Government’s release of the draft Domestic Abuse bill on the 21st January 2019 sparked hopes for increased support for victims by including an extended definition of domestic abuse to incorporate forms of non-physical abuse and economic abuse, preventing abusers being able to cross-examine their victims in court, and implementing a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner. However, the reality is that migrant and refugee women, one of the most vulnerable groups of victims, still fall short in terms of protection from the government’s amendments to the law.
In the draft bill, little aid is outlined for refugee, migrant and BAME victims, who already seem to receive inadequate treatment in terms of support and escape. The Step-Up Migrant Women (SUMW) alliance warn that, although the government recognises the ‘specific vulnerability’ of migrant victims, their current proposals will fail to provide them with the support and refuge they urgently require.
Many migrant women reside in the UK on a Spouse Visa which appears to offer minimal support or escape to those struggling with domestic abuse. The ‘two-year rule’ provides a probationary period for all marriages to non-British spouses, meaning if the marriage breaks down before this period is over, the partner is returned to their country of origin. For the first five years, victims are unable to access support services such as public funds and will not be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. It is feared that a large proportion of migrant women have applied for a Spouse Visa Extension and have chosen to stay in their abusive relationships in order to impede the possibility of deportation and strengthen their immigration claims further down the line.
However, migrants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain through divorce, also called a Spouse Visa Curtailment, which will not compromise the victims right to reside legally in the UK. In addition to this, if the victim can supply sufficient evidence to attest that they are impoverished and a victim of abuse, they can be granted access to financial support from the government for up to three months; this is known as the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDV).
Despite this, it is reported that as many as a quarter of applications for the concession are rejected annually and, according to the Newstatesman, these figures are increasing year on year. The rigorous application process is a serious impediment to applicants as those who fail to provide the appropriate paperwork or attend a meeting on time, can face immediate rejection. Women who find themselves the victim of domestic abuse may be prevented from retrieving their personal documents or leaving their residence, leaving them dependent on their abuser and further perpetuating their cycle of abuse. Many women on a UK Spouse Visa also fear disclosing their situation as they may be threatened with the risk of deportation by their abuser. Equally, this is an unimaginable prospect for many asylum-seeking victims who have fled destruction and conflict to seek refuge in the UK. Additionally, statistics indicate that incidents involving the police handing vulnerable women over to immigration enforcement rather than assisting them are common; one report from 2015-2017 stipulates that as many as 27 out of 45 survivors were reported. These issues collectively construct an unsettling concept for victims, which may leave them feeling trapped and powerless to seek support from authorities due to a combination of abuse and manipulation, and an absence of faith in the authorities themselves.
With Brexit fast approaching, it is feared that the UK’s departure from the EU may generate increased hardship for migrant and refugee women. For example, victims who find their personal documents withheld by their abuser and are unable to supply these by 2022 to secure their EU Settled Status, could encounter stringent immigration rules and regulations further down the line. In addition, a report from the Equality and Diversity forum reports that the government has made no concrete commitments to substitute the billions of pounds of funding currently offered by the EU to support some of the most vulnerable groups in the UK, including those suffering from domestic violence.
The Rights Equality and Citizenship Programme has a current budget of £343 million designated for the whole of the European Union, with over a third of this funding being offered to the UK. The Government’s lack of assistance to non-British women who fall victim to domestic abuse has put increased pressure on services such as support groups, many of which receive funding from the programme. According to the charity Women’s Aid, the number of support groups decreased by as much as a fifth between May 2017 and 2018. This decline in support is already disconcerting for victims but the prospect of a rising decline post-Brexit appears increasingly unnerving. Further still, local authority spending for refuges has been slashed from £31.2m in 2010 to £23.9m in 2017, painting an even bleaker picture for these vulnerable groups who already face additional hardship when seeking shelter and aid from domestic abuse.
Despite the Government’s draft bill offering some benevolent and rejuvenated approaches to addressing the issue of domestic abuse, increased protections and support are desperately needed for these victims if we are to ensure that they are treated equally, compassionately, and humanely in the face of such adverse treatment. The fact that victims of abuse feel they must remain in a situation that potentially jeopardizes their life, to retain their legal residency in the UK, highlights something dangerously wrong with our system that if not rectified soon, could continue to enable abuse and present increased hardship for survivors.
This article has been written by Bethany Morris, a content writer for the UK’s leading Immigration Advice Service. | @IASimmigration
Our member Rashmi Dubé, Lawyer, Writer and Global Feminist, has written a blog post about our Member’s Annual Gathering last weekend!
The meeting was held at St. James Crypt in London, with speaker’s video calling from Calgary, Beirut and Uganda. This is only my second event with The Circle and I am excited for the day. .
As a lawyer and business owner, I am used to walking into rooms where most people are strangers – a veteran networker – but this feels different. The room is full of women and the energy feels electric. The room seems to vibrate, reverberating with energy as if to almost form a musical note. This is something new and unfamiliar to me, but at the same time it feels welcoming and comfortable. I am immediately at ease and say hello to a few familiar faces. The women are excited, each talking about what they are doing in their circles and wanting to help change. Even with small actions great change can be done. I am already on a high before I sit down.
Sioned opens the programme with a message I take to heart and will carry everyday – “just do it,” no matter how insignificant you think your act is. This very sentiment is later echoed by Eve Ensler.
Annie Lennox takes the stage, joined by Eve Ensler, an American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist best known for her play The Vagina Monologues.
The two speakers delve into conversation, debating the word ‘feminist’ and its connotations. Both have the united goal: to give women and girls a place where they don’t have to be resilient – they can just be, fighting for all women and their rights, equality for women and girls in a fairer world.
Annie pointed out that there are “So many gaps….divides and divisions…” that we need to come together and work together. She acknowledged that it is still “so difficult to use the word feminist…” I could see her point. There is an uneasiness around the word, much like there is around vagina, but should there be? Annie pointed out that the “concept of feminism is [associated] with man hating [and] this is really a big problem. But I genuinely think if men are not brought into the conversation, how we can have a dialogue and change attitudes? …. We must do this. If we don’t we will be in
combat…” . She is right. The more we come together as one community, the better the discussion. From my perspective, we need to empower men to become feminists or, at the very least, allies. The way we use words and “terminology makes things visible”. Annie went to on to say that “feminism must be for everyone” and at the moment “many men feel defensive, they feel attacked [and] you need dialogue [to overcome these issues]”.
Eve Ensler was on a similar message and wants us all to be change-makers, even if only in our small community. She spoke openly about the traumas of her own life and that when we as women effect change. She reminds us that in order to bring about change and make a difference to others you don’t need an army. She refers to the Castro quote “I began the revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I would do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action.” She continued to say all “you have to [do is] believe, have faith in what you are doing in your circle [and]…don’t minimise it [in your mind]”
She then took me back by saying: “resilience. I don’t like that word why do they [speaking about the women in Congo being used as a tool of war and for control] … have to be resilient” She was questioning how they got into the position of having to be resilient in those circumstances in first place. The very definition of resilience is “1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.” My mind wondered back briefly to what Annie had said and the importance of terminology.
As the day closed, the take home for me was that I, one human being, can in my circle make a difference as a Global Feminist, have open dialogue with men and revisit the terminology we use with new eyes.
This article was written by Rashmi Dube, who is the Managing Director of Legatus Law, lawyer, author and freelance writer for the Yorkshire Post. She is a Global feminist changing attitudes through the written word and legislation a ripple at a time.
This International Women’s Day, Annie Lennox took part in a panel of change-makers and activists including Adwoa Aboah, founder of Gurls Talk, an open community where young girls can talk about the issues that matter to them; Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London; Chrisann Jarrett, Founder of Let us Learn; and Angeline Murimirwa, Executive Director of the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in Africa and co-founder of CAMA, a pan-African network of young female leaders. The purpose of the panel was to discuss some of the challenges that women and girls still face today, but also to explore some solutions to these issues.
“It was fantastic to take part in yesterday’s panel for the Queen’s Commonwealth trust. The discussion was invigorating and inspiring and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to present the case for everyone to start using and identifying with the term ‘Global Feminism’. The trust exists to champion, fund and connect young leaders around the world and is now presided over by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex together. Thrilled to hear the Duchess personally describe herself as a Global Feminist!”
– Anne Lennox
The panel discussed the issue of girl’s education, sharing the statistic that for every year more of education a girl receives, she will increase her lifetime earnings by 25%. The panel opened the floor to questions, the first of which was from Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, who brought up the inequalities surrounding menstrual wellbeing.
Many of the members of the panel, considered how to involve boys and men in the conversation. Each expressed the sentiment that the progress of feminism cannot proceed without their support. Suggestions such as changing our understanding of masculinity, starting an open dialogue and ‘shining light on the invisible man’ were offered. Adwoa Aboah, described the work that Gurls Talk are doing to include men in their feminist space, stating that half of all Gurls Talk members are men.
The conversation continued to come back to the term Global Feminism. It has been the mission of Annie Lennox and The Circle to get the term into the zeitgeist as an inclusive term to acknowledge the disparity between the right’s that we enjoy in comparison to women across the globe who are denied them. 1 in 3 women will experience sexual and physical violence in their lifetime, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence isn’t a crime.The panel was a crucial part of doing so.
‘It is about Global Feminism, it is about equality and parity for all of us’.
– HRH The Duchess of Sussex
We even managed to some of the panelists to share their #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist. Lets continue the success of International Women’s Day 2019 and keep getting the Global Feminism word out there!
This was a truly inspirational panel that we were very grateful to be a part of. We want to thank all the panelists for their endorsement of Global Feminism and hope that by International Women’s Day 2020, we will be one step closer to achieving a fairer world for all women and girls.
It all started with a graphic tee.
“I was in a department store, and I saw a T-shirt that had Wonder Woman on it,” Annie Lennox says of the moment that inspired her latest campaign. It was the summer of 2018, and the music icon was trying to figure out how to take the mission of the Circle, the international women’s-rights non-governmental organization she founded in 2008, to the next level.“I looked at the T-shirts and I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, what if Wonder Woman could connect everyday women and men to the facts about the gender inequality experienced by millions of girls and women every day around the globe?’ So I bought the T-shirt, took it home, and put it on. Then I wrote a list of facts and statistics on sheets of drawing paper and had a series of pictures taken for Instagram of myself holding up the messaging.”The result: #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist, a social-media hashtag campaign promoting Lennox’s message.
Annie Lennox is the special guest on this episode of The Global GoalsCast. The rock star talks about why she moved away from music and into an activist role fighting HIV / AIDS and working to improve the lives of girls and women around the world. She urges women — and men — to embrace the term Global Feminism.
“If you use the term Global Feminism to describe what you represent and what you stand for,” Lennox says, “you understand feminism all around the world. It is not only from a western perspective.”
At its heart, Global Feminism recognises that there are millions of girls and women around the world that “don’t have a voice and by using the term you’re making them present and known.”
Facts and Actions are offered by Sioned Jones, Executive Director of The Circle, the organisation founded by Annie Lennox. You will also hear about the Index of Women Entrepreneurs created by our sponsor MasterCard. Listen now!
Edie Lush, Producer of Global GoalsCast, has told us a little bit about how podcast came about and her collaboration with The Circle:
“I started the Global GoalsCast with my co-host Claudia Romo Edelman two years ago after we met in Davos. We were introduced by Stan Stalnaker, the founder of Hub Culture where I am Executive Editor. The podcast was Stan’s idea! I’m a journalist and communication trainer and Claudia is a development specialist with many years at the United Nations. I was hugely excited to win an award last year from the UN for the podcast.
My goal is to tell you the stories of one of the most remarkable combined efforts in human history. 193 nations have set goals for 11 years from now, ranging from ending extreme poverty to fighting climate change and making the world a better place. Claudia and I have made the Global GoalsCast the place where you come to find the stories of the people who are ticking off the tasks on the world’s to do list.
I love this collaboration with The Circle because The Global GoalsCast is biased towards women both in our organisational structure and the stories we feature. We’ve had some cracking episodes – let me tell you about some of the women we’ve featured:
In the Revolutionary Power of Food, we featured Charity Mulengu, a 32-year old widowed mother of two who is a market trader in Zambia who is using an ‘eBay for Farmers’ to sell produce to help feed her family. Before the app enabled her to advertise and sell her crops, she would haul as much as 550 pounds of produce to a market in the hope of finding people who wanted to buy it. It was expensie and time-consuming – she had to leave her children with her mother to travel. ‘Now I can communicate direct with the farmer,’ she said ‘we agree on the thing which I want. For example, if I want five bags of cowpeas. I will communicate with the farmr .. Then the farmer can send those five bags to me.’
In They Are the Code we featured Senegalese activist and businesswoman Mariéme Jamme who is a living example of how technology can help elevate young women out of dire situations. Raped by a teacher at the age of 11 years old, Jamme was trafficked from her native Senegal to France at age 13 and sold into prostitution. Two years later, French police picked her off the streets. She ended up in the U.K, where she began her education. She told me that ‘I was starting my alphabet when I was 16’. Jamme came to prominence and found activism when she wrote an open and critical blog to Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof and U2 frontman Bono criticizing the way Africa was being portrayed in materials related to the famous concert’s 25th Anniversary. That led to her being tapped for advice on how to represent African women and girls in the media and bring balance to coverage of the continent. Mariéme wanted to be more than just a voice and an adviser. She wanted to give more women and girls the ability to speak for themselves. Her movement, I am the Code, brings girls together to learn life skills and equip them with the technology to do something about it.
In Comedy Can Do More Than Make Us Laugh, we featured three female comedians who are using comedy to break stereotypes. One of the comics we featured is Noam Shuster, an Israeli woman. Noam’s father is a Romanion Jew and her mother was born in Iran, which makes her background a unique cultural hybrid. After what she considers a failed sting in a peace organisation, Noam turned to comedy and found that her heritage allowed her a special way in. She said ‘one of the places that comedy has brought me is to be the first Jewish performer in a Palestinian comedy festival. There were two guys who are sitting in the front row looking at me, like, what is this Jew going to tell us, you know? So I walk on stage and I’m thinking, how am I going to break the ice? Like what? It’s a crowd of 300 Palestinians. So I walk in on stage and I look and them and I tell them ‘Habibi, relax. I’m only here for seven minutes, not 70 years’.
As the women’s rights movement pushes forward, internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, performer and Human Rights activist Annie Lennox and the NGO she founded, The Circle, have partnered with Apple Music for a Global International Women’s Day initiative launched today.
Together with Sammy Andrews and her team at Deviate Digital, they have created a short film in support of Global Feminism, an umbrella term inclusive of all approaches to women’s equality.
To help her, Annie has drawn support from some of the biggest names in music, film and beyond, including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Richard E Grant, Emeli Sande, Hozier, Richa Chadha, Eddie Izzard, Gwendoline Christie, Farhan Akhtar, Beverley Knight and Mary J Blige. Watch and share the short film below:
While we celebrate and acknowledge the advancement in women rights over the past 100 years, we must make sure it’s inclusive for all. The short film aims to highlight the injustices still experienced by millions of women and girls the world over – from misogyny, rape and violence to pay disparity.
Every woman and girl, no matter where they live, no matter the colour their skin, no matter what religious faith, no matter what – MUST have access to the same basic human rights. Global Feminists believe in equality of rights, with empowerment and justice made available for every woman and girl in every corner of the world.
Annie Lennox: “Disempowerment creates an appalling way of life for millions of women and girls around the world. While physical or sexual violence affects one in three women, and two thirds of the world’s 757 million adults who cannot read or write are women … these are only two on a long list of disparity and injustice. We cannot ignore the fact that feminism must have a global reach.”
“At a time when there seems to be so much polarity and division in the world, the term ‘global feminism’ offers an opportunity for people from every walk of life, colour of skin, gender or sexual orientation to understand and identify with the bigger global picture. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of human rights, justice and equality for women and girls everywhere in the world, especially in countries where they are not even near the lowest rung of the ladder.”
Rachel Newman (Apple Music Global Head of Editorial): “Annie Lennox is not only one of the most prolific women in music, but one of the most dedicated and passionate women’s rights advocates of our time. Her efforts to better this world are truly inspiring and her impact is undeniable. This International Women’s Day we are thrilled and honored to support this incredible artist and share her message of #globalfeminism with our global audience.”
Sioned Jones (Executive Director, The Circle): “Global Feminism is at the heart of what we do as we strive for a more equal and fairer world for women and girls. On this International Women’s Day having a chance to remind us all of the huge inequalities and injustices that remain for millions of women and girls across the globe is important in ensuring no one is left behind in being able to realise their basic human rights. We thank Annie, Apple Music and all the contributors who have given up their time and support to this film and we all stand together as Global Feminists.”
Share your own #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist on social media and tag @thecirclengo and Annie Lennox!
Photo Credit: Tim Freccia, World Vision.
This February, news headlines have been focusing a lot on FGM/C due to it being a month in which many individuals, charities and organisations raise awareness of this life-threatening practice.
FGM/C is practiced in at least 30 countries and at least 200 million girls and women have been cut. Over 100 million cases have happened across Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia alone. Despite both the physical and mental health consequences, FGM/C is a practice rooted in tradition. It is a tradition which has been around for hundreds of years which means putting an end to it is a very complex and sensitive issue.
In February 2018, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women stated for International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C that “FGM is an act that cuts away equality”. Women suffer immense pain and a lifetime of complications such as neonatal death. Girls are cut with no opportunity to defend themselves, no voice to say no. This is a human rights violation.
FGM/C is usually carried out on young women between infancy and 15 years of age. Before these girls become adults’, the possibility to have a natural childbirth is taken away from them. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), women are at a significant risk of complications such as a post-partum haemorrhage, a prolonged and obstructed labour and worse of all losing their baby. FGM/C has no health benefits; so why are women and girls being forced to suffer such immense pain?
FGM/C is rooted in tradition and culture. Mlambo-Ngcuka stated this month how this practice is a form of gender-based violence and cannot be isolated from other forms of violence against women and girls. Neil Williams of World Vision UK reported for girlsnotbrides.com about travelling to Ethiopia to meet girls at risk of FGM/C and their families. Through the conversations Williams had with the girls and their families, we begin to understand how FGM/C and child marriage are intrinsically linked. Parents fear abduction and pre-marital sex and so remove their daughters from school and arrange to have them cut and married at an early age. Devastatingly, this is considered a safer alternative.
In a statement for the 2017 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted how children living in communities where FGM/C is practiced will not finish school and will therefore have limited employment prospects. The cycle continues as girls who have mothers without an education are more likely to be subjected to FGM/C. They see their daughters being cut as adding value to their lives, securing a future marriage and family honour. Then again it is also seen as suppressing their sexuality. Young women and girls are cruelly stripped of the opportunity to make their own choices about their future. In some communities’ girls are not educated beyond lower secondary school, leading them to get married as it is believed their future prospects will be greater. There are also a lack of job opportunities and these jobs are prioritized for boys’. But educating girls can prevent the reoccurrence of child marriage and FGM/C. Education can create a future for girls where they are not limited by decisions made about their bodies without their consent.
According to UNICEF, in Djibouti where 78% of women and girls are subjected to FGM/C, a woman named Mariam Kako was cut at five years old. A razorblade was used to perform the type of FGM/C called pharaonic. When her daughter was born Kako told her mother that she would be not cut. Her mother ignored those wishes, showing her deeply held belief in this tradition. Kako’s baby girl died 40 days later at six months old. Kako now works to educate the population through encouraging people to tell their stories and refuting the myth that FGM/C is associated with religion. Many communities believe that child marriage and FGM/C are a ‘marker of their religious identity’. However, in religious scripture, this is not a requirement.
Experiences like Mlambo-Ngcuka’s and Mariam Kako’s stories are deeply personal and these women are incredibly brave to speak up about what they have been through to help expose the brutal effect FGM/C has on women and girls;
Photo Credit: Ashenafi Tibebe, The Elders. 2011.
According to BBC News, by 2020 secondary school pupils in England will be educated on FGM as a dangerous practice. This education is incredibly important. According to UNICEF, between 2019 and 2030, 68 million girls will be cut if active steps are not taken to stop this brutal practice.
Many do not realise that FGM/C happens in the UK. Hibo Wadere told her story to the BBC, published on 4th February 2019. As a women she graphically describes the experience she went through as a six-year-old girl; the memories of blood and the screams still distressingly vivid.
UN Women are working with traditional leaders across Africa to increase commitment to ending child marriage and FGM/C. FGM/C is prevalent across 30 countries: 28 of them are in Africa. Queen Mother Best Kemigisa of the Tooro Kingdom, Uganda supports the work of UN Women. The Queen Mother states how people will listen to the religious and traditional leaders who uphold these practices as adding value to the lives of women and girls. The work UN Women are doing is vitally important. We need to work with these leaders and listen to their perspective in order for them to hopefully choose to listen to the reasons why these practices are unnecessary and harmful. If the minds of these leaders are changed, so too will the minds of their communities.
Annie Lennox’s Global Feminism campaign addresses how as feminists we must be looking at gender inequality on a global scale. It is about recognising that “Feminism needs to be relevant, appreciated and respected especially where the needs are greatest —in countries where women and girls are not even near the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of being able to realise the most fundamental of human rights.” – (Annie Lennox). Feminism is about reaching out to individual women and girls and addressing their individual needs which vary depending on where you live in the world. We must make sure to help encourage and strengthen the platform for women to speak up about their experiences of FGM/C and empower social and cultural change.
The UN have made it one of their sustainable development goals to “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation” (Goal 5.3).
It is incredible that we dedicate February to raising awareness of FGM/C. We need intense periods of time where we gather together to educate people who are not aware of FGM/C or indeed the scale of the problem. But the campaigning cannot occur only in February. In order to continue fighting for women and girls to lead healthy lives, we must carry on discussing the issue and taking action to end it.
For more information about FGM/C visit the following link
This article was written by Georgia Bridgett who is an intern for The Circle. Georgia is a recent English graduate and is passionate about women’s rights and the underlying issues in the fast-fashion industry.
Photo Credit: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, 2014.
This month we are opening up our blog to our members. Rosie writes about her feminist New Year’s resolutions for the coming year!
I think that reading about feminism is the best way to become a better Global Feminist. It allows you to understand the viewpoints of other women from around the world and is also a great way to keep up to date on current discussions surrounding contemporary women’s rights. On my reading list for this year are ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies’ by Scarlett Curtis, ‘Why We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘I am Malala’ Malala Yousafzai and ‘Eve Was Shamed’ by Helena Kennedy. I think that is an important gateway into the experiences of women from different cultures and backgrounds to my own. I believe that these different perspectives further encourage me to become a truly Global Feminist. These texts are written by women who write from a number of different viewpoints, either having experienced different modes sexism or misogyny themselves, or their professions such as journalists have led them to discover the stories of women who may not have the platform to share their own experiences.
All sexism and misogyny is deplorable and all women’s experiences matter. I recognize that my experience does not reflect the whole spectrum of oppression faced by women around the world and I want to be an ally for all women. For those experiencing forced marriage or FGM, for the women that have been trafficked for sex or have been failed by the law after suffering rape or sexual assault, those who are unable to access a safe and legal abortion, and others who have to give birth in dangerous conditions. It is for these women that I vow to support. Global Feminism is about all women coming together and sharing cultures and experience, it encourages us to understand inequalities and oppression on a global scale.
I love clothes and I love fashion, but I also plan to find out more about the inequalities rife within the garment sector. I know that 80% of garment workers are women and that they often work in unsafe conditions for long hours with little pay and fewer labour laws. This also puts them at risk of sexual harassment from their bosses and in a lot of instances maternity leave is limited to non-existent. This year, I really want to make sure as many of my clothes as possible are made in an ethical way, even if this means buying less. I will commit to learning more about sweatshop free brands to make sure my purchasing decisions don’t enslave the women making my clothes.
This year, I want to educate my friends and family about Global Feminism at every chance I get. I find that many men don’t engage in feminism and are not always aware of their privilege. This mindset also applies to women who are purely interested in Western feminism, to those who will happily wear a ‘Girl Power’ shirt without considering the plight of the woman who made it. Taking the opportunity to talk to these men and women in your life is an opportunity to communicate the values Global Feminism and some of the shocking statistics that quantify the level of inequality across the globe. Speaking to friends and family is also a good way of communicating an accurate definition of feminism and what that entails. I know men who admit that they were hesitant to support the feminist cause because they believed that the movement was rooted in a hatred of men. This year I want to spread the word by inviting my friends to watch feminist films, lending them books and recommending podcasts.
Every day I want to try and take little actions that help other women. This means that I won’t wait until the next big protest or social media hashtag to assert my feminism, but I will support women at every chance I get. I resolve to make space for my female colleagues to speak in work meetings, to back up their ideas and to make sure they get the credit. I will help women who are being harassed in a bar or on the street and call out sexist comments. I already call out everyday sexism in my social circle, but 2019 will be the year that I take this further – to work, to the street and online.
In 2019, I want to connect more with other global feminists. I have a bit of a fear of networking situations, so I also want to take every opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. I also believe that I could learn a lot from the perspectives of others, which in turn will make me a better feminist. Types of networking I would love to take part in includes charity events, social media, feminist book clubs and debates. I would also like to volunteer with charities that support women globally so I can learn more about how I can help other women.
The world is harsh enough on women already so we should all be making the effort to empower each other. We need to support one another to make real change. We don’t need to be complicit in unrealistic beauty standards by judging each other on what we wear or how much we weigh. Nor should we be shaming other women for their sexuality, career or lifestyle choices. Stick up for your sisters in 2019!
This article was written by Rosie Greenfield, member of The Circle.
#WomenEmpoweringWomen #WidenYourCircle #OneReasonWhyImAGlobalFeminist