When Annie Lennox talks, we listen. The music icon and relentless activist has not only earned herself global fame thanks to a music career that has spanned over 40 years, but has driven awareness and funding for women’s rights and the AIDS crisis with her own charity The Circle.
Last night (26 September) Lennox performed for the first time in a decade in her native Scotland, and as well her singing her adored musical hits, she had a powerful message to share with “western feminists” about inclusivity.
In 1998 Lennox began campaigning for better AIDS awareness and treatment and since then has continued to donate profits from her career and used her platform to help the issue in any way she can. At her concert Lennox highlighted how little the UK press cover the devastating effects of AIDS and that Brexit is distracting us from the most important issues.
“Having seen AIDS really up close and how at the time it was devastating South Africa, it has changed so much, but it’s not the end of the pandemic yet.
“Our newspapers don’t focus on them. They don’t want to focus on them. We are caught up in a whole nightmare in Brexit. We are all caught up in the drama and the dilemma. But all around the world there are billions of people living in abject poverty,” she said.
Lennox continues to point out her own privilege, and admited that in an ideal world she would love to “just enjoy” her life, but refuses to turn away from the responsibility she feels to women globally.
She said: “I am a resourced, wealthy, self-made woman. All I really want to do is enjoy my life and make the best of it. But I also want to make a contribution. I just really felt this passion. I felt I could have a bit of a platform. I never wanted to preach to people. It is a turn-off.
“But I was just so affected by seeing women and children dying of AIDS. It is preventable. It doesn’t have to happen.”
Lennox counts modern day political leaders as part of the reason that more progress isn’t being made, accusing them of “preventing good things from happening” and silencing the voices and actions of the people who are “doing amazing things.”
Ultimately Lennox feels like the support of women all over the world is needed if we’re going to progress the treatment of women globally, and is urging women in developed countries to call themselves global feminists.
She implored: “Western feminists must wake up and realise that femiminism is a global concept. We must change attitudes and behaviours when it comes to sexual abuse, domestic abuse, sexual violence and rape.”
Before adding that to achieve true equality, we need men on our side: “We don’t have to fight with men. We have to transform negative, abusive attitudes and behaviours. It comes from generational poverty. There are reasons why men abuse women. We need to address it and bring it out of the closet.”
Although issues in the UK such as period poverty, closing the gender pay gap and improving opportunities for women in male-dominated industries are all important, Lennox makes a powerful point that we can’t ignore the issues that aren’t immediately in our view.