On Sunday the 4th March, by the houses of Parliament, the air was cold, but the atmosphere was warm, filled with minds and hearts of people from all over — all protesting against the same thing. We were fighting against the abuse and discrimination and political imbalance against women. Above waves of people, flew colourful, hand-drawn and humorous posters in all shapes and sizes. A multitude of different people — men, women, teens, children, introverts — came out to raise awareness about the issue that affects many, daily. It was rainy, but we persisted with our heads high and hearts in our voices and hands. The march ended after drumming and chanting in Trafalgar Square: the place where the whole movement really started. Speeches were said and songs were sung and, most importantly, we gained attention. We gained attention politically and through the media to show everyone how we still need change. Yet again, it was a small step, but that small step felt good. It felt inspiring.
Written by Amelia and Emily, 14 years old. Amelia and Emily attended the #March4Women 2018 with their mum and other members of The Circle. They are the next generation of The Circle members and global feminists.
To find out more about our membership and how to sign up to become a member, click here.
Both Sides Now is a large-scale initiative taking place across the North of England to support emerging female artists and up-and-coming industry professionals to transform the future of the music industry.
Its aim is to create a network that delivers sustainable activity and affects permanent change around the perception, opportunities and profiling of women in music, from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the stage.
This first ‘Open Space’ event is for anyone with an interest in this conversation to come together and discuss what could make a real difference – whether that’s about role models, motherhood, education, social mobility, policy change or something else entirely.
The presentation of GENPOL’s new policy paper, one of the first studies assessing the quality and influence of sexual education across all EU member states. The policy paper examines the links between SRE and gender-based violence, suggesting that comprehensive and inclusive teaching can help challenge and prevent abusive behaviours. It outlines GenPol’s innovative approach to consent-centred SRE, and carefully unpacks the relationship between educational efforts and gender-based violence prevention. It also celebrates the vital work of sex education and gender equality advocates across Europe, whilst identifying existing gaps that need to be addressed.
The European Parliament Liason Office in Edinburgh will host a panel discussion event for International Women’s Day to discuss women’s issues at national European level and the specific challenges faced by women in politics. This will be an all-female panel with speakers including Catherine Stihler and Elspeth Attwooll!
“A panel discussion led by three women from diverse backgrounds leading the discussion on the stereotyped black woman. For centuries, black women have been shoehorned into a handful of stereotypes — the mammy, the sexual siren, the welfare queen, the matriarch, and the angry Black woman. Arguably, Michelle Obama represents a pushback against each of these, even at the implicit level.”
African Voices Forum leads round table discussions on the identity of black women as part of the General Assembly’s proclamation of this decade as the Decade for People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.
4 March – March4Women, The Circle (London)
The Circle members will be marching through the streets of London to show solidarity for women everywhere. It’s going to be a fun and empowering way to get to know each other more and support women’s rights. Not a member yet? Join us!
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, for one Sunday filmmaker Jade Jackman, Politics Editor for gal-dem Leah Cowan and the rest of gal-dem will fill the House of Vans with film screenings, several talks, a raffle and a marketplace. All proceeds will be donated to Imkaan, the only UK-based, second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black minoritised women and girls.
Through celebrating the words and works of women and non-binary folk of colour, we will support women in the UK who will be most affected by the government’s proposed changes to domestic violence funding which will leave some refuges and services without funding. By uplifting and celebrating women, we want to support others.
With workshops and panel discussions focusing on BME women’s experience of sexualized and racialized harassment and ending deportations. There will also be a talk by Paula Akpan, gal-dem’s social media editor, in conversation with activist and model Munroe Bergdorf.
First performed in 2015, March of Women celebrated the lives and achievements of Scottish women past and present. In this documentary film, you will hear from the women involved as they talk about the heroines they chose to represent. After the film you’ll get the chance to join the discussion and create your own suffragette-style rosette with a message for women today.
The Empower Project and WomenBeing have teamed up to host a celebration of women this Thursday for International Women’s Day. The event will feature an exhibition of art and photography, spoken word performances, and live music from women living in and around Edinburgh. Taking place at The Dog House in Newington, they will be taking donations of hygiene products for Homeless Period. Lets have a party!
Girl Talk is a free, monthly, informal meet up for creative women and non-binary people hosted by Girl Gang Leeds. Their monthly meet-up falls on International Women’s Day so this one is going to be extra special!
With talks from Kristyna Baczynski, Modes of Expression, Equaliser, Four Chambers and Freedom4girls.
“Did you know that of the 2,300 paintings on display at the National Gallery, only eleven are by women? Did you know that only around five per cent of the works in major permanent collections worldwide is by women artists? Did you know that on average less than five per cent of the artists in permanent collection’s modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female? Can you name the female heroes and seductresses of the old testament? Do you know their stories? Have you ever heard of a Maenad? Medusa? Madame Pompidour? Saint Catherine?”
London Drawing Group is addressing this imbalance: “POWERFUL WOMEN: a Hidden History invites you to step inside London’s Iconic National Gallery with a celebration of powerful female figures throughout history; from Grecian Goddesses to the wonderfully vicious Old Testament heroines, stories of Saints and Martyrs, Witches, Monsters and the too-long-forgotten female artists of the National Gallery”.
Let resident LDG tutor Luisa-Maria MacCormack guide you through the gallery and spend the afternoon practicing drawing exercises that are designed to help you understand and engage with these paintings and stories in new and creative ways.
WOW – Women of the World festival celebrates women and girls, and looks at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential.
Around the world, individuals and communities are insisting on the simple proposition that women and girls must have equal rights and asking the question: why is gender equality taking so long?
Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival is a global network of festivals which provides a platform for celebrating what has been achieved, and exploring all the ways we can change the world for the better. The Circle will have a stall at the WOW Market Place, so come and meet the team!
After the resounding success of the first Queer Modernism(s) conference in 2017, Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities, will be held on 12 and 13 April 2018 at the University of Oxford. Queer Modernism(s) II is an interdisciplinary, international conference exploring the place of queer identity in modernist art, literature and culture, with an emphasis on intersecting identities. Panelists will question, discuss and interrogate the social, sexual, romantic, artistic, affective, legal and textual relationship between queer identity and modernity.
The Keynotes will be Dr. Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Jana Funke (University of Exeter). Dr. Parmar is a BBC New Generation thinker and has published widely on women’s literature in the 20th century, especially lesser known and non-canonical women. Dr. Funke is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities in the English Department at the University of Exeter and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Her research cuts across modernist studies, the history of sexuality and the history of science. She has published on modernist women’s writing, the history of sexual science and queer literature and history.
Written by @AnnaRenfrew. Anna is a student at The University of Edinburgh and a volunteer at The Circle.
TEDxUCLWomen is a movement celebrating women’s achievements and critiquing barriers to further change. This year’s theme is Home, encompassing notions of community, belonging, race, class, familiarity and discomfort. An incredible line-up of speakers will challenge participants’ perceptions and enrich their thinking around the theme.
At this event, curated by Poet in the City, contemporary female poets will draw on the past to explore their own modern identities and sense of belonging. Inspired by the venue — St Hugh’s College, whose first principal felt she slipped back in time when visiting Versailles — Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Patience Agbabi will explore stories from across time and space, reflecting on their own work and that of the female poets who preceded them.
Sara Ahmed’s celebrated new book, Living a Feminist Life, reveals how feminist theory is generated from ordinary experiences at home and at work — from everyday feminism. On 16 November, Ahmed will be in conversation with host Muzna Rahman. She will read and discuss extracts of her work, with a focus on intersectionality and queer and race studies; this will be followed by an audience Q&A and a drinks reception.
The Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading charity promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Join them on 18 November for their annual conference, a day of networking, panel discussions and interactive workshops. Hear from inspiring feminists including broadcaster June Sarpong and feminist writer Caroline Criado-Perez.
This live visual presentation at The Feminist Library will illuminate the hidden realities of women warriors. From the Qyrk Qyz (Forty Maidens) of Central Asia to the female general Trung Trac in Vietnam, historian Max Dashú will place the women of Amazon legend into historical global perspective.
25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Events will be taking place around the world raise to awareness of the issue: globally, 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime, and in some countries this rises to 7 in 10. The Circle will be playing its part by hosting Chai Day, a chance for friends and colleagues to get together over a cup of tea, to discuss and raise funds for a good cause.
American folksinger Peggy Seeger is a feminist icon, “an activist, an advocate, a mover-and-shaker”. At the age of 82, she’s taking to the road this winter to promote her recently published memoir and accompanying CD. She’ll be performing hits from a career spanning six decades, interspersing her songs with readings from her book. It will be an unforgettable night!
Over the past year, as part of the Swindon200 project, community groups and charities have been working together to produce a series of short films on the topic of equality and inclusion. The films will be screened for the first time at the Community Film Festival, which will run from 14 November to 12 December. Come along on 6 December to watch the Swindon Feminist Network’s new film, and to find out more about the issues that affect women.
FiLiArt’s theme this year is refuge, both literal and metaphorical: they will be working with at-risk women and girls, and creating a safe haven through art. Visit their exhibition at Oxford House to see creations by thirty women artists working in all different media, from sculpture to photography and everything in between.
Peta Barrett, the Relationship Manager at The Circle, on the Chai Day 2017 launch and why you should organise a Chai Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence
Colourful falling leaves, busy squirrels and tea go hand in hand for me. My autumn is always tea-inspired. Tea spiced with meaningful discussions with friends; cosy evenings in with a hot brew as energy levels start to cool with the weather; tea steaming up the windows, and tea’s magically unique comforting warmth, like a hug in a mug.
As a member of The Circle, chai tea and autumn brewed together in November also means confronting hard truths and saying enough is enough. Last month, Chai Day was launched with our members. An inspiring evening with speakers — The Circle Executive Director Sioned Jones, who shared The Circle’s mission; Santosh Bhanot, Chair of The Asian Circle, who started the Chai Day movement and shared her experiences of visiting women supported by funds raised through Chai Day, and Gina Conway of Gina Conway Salons — an inspiring member who shared her experience of hosting Chai Day at her salons in 2016.
Chai Day is an opportunity to gather people around a hot beverage on 25 November — significantly the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — to look at how gender-based violence manifests in our community and what we can do about it. Last month was also the month when the #MeToo hashtag flooded the internet. With all the awareness scrolled and clicked through on smart phones, tablets and screens, the importance of Chai Day is more significant than ever before. It is the vital next step to engaging and talking about the issue (and I don’t mean via 140 characters in the comments thread).
As a professional working for women’s rights, a friend to many who have experienced more than just a “tap on the arse”, and as someone who can freely identify as a woman in a city where I am more empowered than most, I feel that it is important to facilitate conversations around this topic. Chai Day offers people a platform to do this. If we can ensure that dialogue about gender-based violence in our communities, and those around the world, continue past social media trends, we will be winning one small battle in the current war on women and girls.
The #MeToo storm that has hit social media is important because it has demonstrated that experiences of gender-based harassment and assault are commonplace amongst women, and that it exists across women of all ages, races, culture and class. The #MeToo trend is, in isolation, far from perfect because the victim is still being expected to place herself in a vulnerable position (by speaking out) as well as lead the discussion in a world that still largely blames the victim. It also ignores other genders affected by gender-based violence and is in danger of ignoring the serious disparities that exist between experiences and why these occur.
To prevent the hashtag from existing only as a social media flurry that will fizzle out, we need to be inspired by the overwhelming outcry and use it proactively to initiate and establish dialogues between all genders. This is important not only for the reality of the situation to take hold, but also to ensure that all people are able to reflect on the roles we play in contributing towards the inequalities that exist between genders in 2017. Uniting and talking about experiences to bring about lasting change is the real intention behind the initial Me Too campaign initiated by Tarana Burke ten years ago. It is also the inspiration behind The Circle’s Chai Day as part of the global movement for gender equality.
For these reasons and so many more I will be arming myself with my #ChaiDay and #MeToo hashtags, some hard facts about gender-based violence, videos of The Circle’s inspiring projects and some chai teabags. My invitations have gone out and we will be opening our home in London on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to friends, colleagues and people we would like to get to know better.
I am asking my guests to bring their questions, experiences, opinions and an open mind. If they enjoy the treats, hot drinks and discussions and feel inspired to donate towards projects aimed at ending violence against women – great I’ll have a money box for their small change and a PC ready for any online donations. If they don’t, it’s more important for me that they turn up and be part of the conversation. Why? Because 38% of all men and 34% of all women who participated in a study conducted by the Fawcett Society in 2016 said that if a woman goes out late at night, wearing a short skirt, gets drunk and is then the victim of a sexual assault she is fully or partly to blame. Because across the world 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate male partner. Because globally 71% of human trafficking victims are women and girls. Because I want our daughters to grow up and talk about gender inequality as something that happened in the “olden days”.
At an event at Southbank with Margaret Atwood discussing her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the question of “what can I do” was asked. Margaret simply and eloquently answered, “Imagine the world you want to live in and act accordingly”. I want a world where gender-based violence does not exist. In the meantime, I will imagine a world where women (and other genders) can talk about their experiences of gender-based violence without shame and fear of being blamed.
If my passion for this subject has inspired you and you would like to host your own Chai Day in your home, office, yoga studio, football club or hairdresser, visit our website to find downloadable invitations, promotional materials, helpful tips, videos and facts to use as conversation starters.
I look forward to raising my tea cup with yours on 25 November for a better, safer world.
Peta Barrett is a member of The Circle since 2016 and our Relationship Manager since 2017.
We are delighted to share with you the first issue of our Feminist Calendar. In this series of articles we will attempt to keep you posted on talks on feminist theory, art and poetry events, protests, and key dates in past and future struggles for gender equality.
Photo credit: The Guardian.
13 May—Surround Yarls Wood
On Saturday, Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary is calling for the eleventh Surround Yarls Wood demonstration.
Staff at the privately-run Yarls Wood have been accused of humiliating and abusing the 400+ women who are indefinitely detained in the centre.
Join women on both sides of the notorious detention centre’s fences and demand the closure of all immigration detention centres.
24 May—Decolonizing ‘the angry Black woman’: Black feminist theory and practice in ‘post-race’ university spaces (London)
As feminism gains traction, it is essential to become aware of one’s own privilege and to understand that different women experience different kinds of oppression due to overlapping identities, including race, class, sexual orientation and disability.
Dr Shirley Tate, a Cultural Sociologist and Professor of Race and Education at Leeds Beckett University, is giving a free lecture at Birkbeck, University of London about how Black women ‘cope with silencing and erasure within white feminism whilst maintaining personal and Black feminist community cohesiveness’.
9 June (9 a.m.-12 p.m.)—The Scottish Circle Coffee Morning
The Scottish Circle, a network of members of The Circle that are based in Scotland, are hosting a Coffee Morning fundraiser at the Kilmalcolm Community Centre, in The Cargill Centre (Kilmalcolm).
For £2 you get entry to the event, coffee and cakes!
There will be a small market, and anyone can apply for a stall! Each stall costs £10 plus a 10% donation of your revenue to The Scottish Circle. All funds raised will be donated to Rape Crisis Glasgow.
For more information, please contact The Scottish Circle at email@example.com or Lana95@gmail.com.
9–14 June—Doc/Fest (Sheffield)
Comprising of inspirational documentary films from across the globe, controversial discussion panels and more, Sheffield Doc/Fest is a great place to go to see original films, which in the past have included films on women’s rights issues, and to meet brilliant female film-makers from around the world.
16–18 June—Grrrl Con 2017 (Manchester)
Write Like a Grrrl and For Books’ Sake created Grrrl Con to champion emerging women writers of all levels. Get inspired by top women writers—including Scarlett Thomas, Patience Agbabi and Jenn Ashworth—, attend workshops and collaborate with other aspiring writers.
This is what previous attendees have to say about Grrrl Con: ‘Before Grrrl Con I thought I’d never have a book but now apparently I’ve got two to finish. It showed me the ability I have, and how not to shy away from it!’
22–24 June—Feminist Emergency: International Conference (London)
This major international conference will bring together academics, activists, writers, professionals and policy makers to tackle the challenges that feminism faces in 2017, such as ‘austerity policies, increasing social inequalities’ and the increasing worldwide visibility of violence against women, including domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, ‘honour’ killings and female genital mutilation. It will combine poetry readings with panels, in an interdisciplinary attempt to analyse how these issues affect feminism and ‘establish the forward looking nature of modern feminist expression and thought’.