I’m thrilled to be taking up the role of Chair of The Circle at this critical time in the fight for a fairer world for women and girls.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit women and girls hard. Globally, we have seen a shadow pandemic of violence as women and girls have been more constrained and less able to stay safe or earn a living. Rape continues to be used as a weapon of war, with the raging conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, a terrible example of this. Hunger is rising, and women and girls are too often the first to go without food. And here in the UK, the Government’s devastating cuts to the aid budget will see 20 million girls go without essential support.
That’s why the Circle and our inspiring founder, Annie Lennox, were at the forefront of calling for a better deal for women and girls from G7 Leaders in recent days. Global feminism – standing together with our sisters across the world to build back better – has never mattered more.
Wherever I’ve lived and worked, from Africa to Europe to the Middle East to the USA, I have encountered brave, strong and brilliant women working to dismantle the patriarchy and overcome the damage that it causes. From women teaching adolescent girls about their right to control their bodies and nurses providing women with contraception in IDP camps in North East Nigeria, to Syrian refugee women forming co-ops to earn a basic living in Lebanon, and women Palestinian teachers refusing to close their school in the face of serious violence threatened by soldiers’ young enough to be their sons: women and girls shouldn’t have to be brave, strong and brilliant to live safely with our basic rights upheld. This is why we need feminism, and it’s why I’m so passionate about the work of The Circle.
There’s no doubt that the Circle is in an exciting chapter, with our brilliant CEO, Raakhi Shah, amazing partner organizations, and the support of so many extraordinary women members and supporters. Our mission – to bring together and empower one million women and girls as changemakers, and build a dynamic community of global feminists – is both bold and necessary.
We have a new strategy, fresh energy, and renewed determination to make change happen; whether that’s fighting for a living wage for garment workers or demanding an end to violence against women and girls.
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