Remarkable Women Awards 2019: Annie Lennox’s inspiring speech reminds us why she’s a true icon

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Annie Lennox is absolutely an icon. And, at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2019, Keeley Hawes – aka Julia Montague from BBC One’s Bodyguard – stepped up to present the musician and activist with the prestigious Icon Award.

Noting that Lennox won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the early Seventies and, as one half of The Eurythmics, became one of the most loved British artists around the world, Hawes went on to inform the star-studded audience at London’s Rosewood Hotel that “it’s not Lennox’s music that makes her our winner tonight… although it is worthy of such an honour.”

Rather, “it is the way that she has used her status and platform to help so many other people, especially women,” continued Hawes.

Hawes highlighted Lennox’s longtime support of Amnesty International and Greenpeace and her campaigning work for AIDS awareness and gender equality.

“An icon within the LGBTQI community, she has consistently used her voice for positive change, establishing her own initiatives – the SING campaign and The Circle,” Hawes continued. “A unique networking hub of women around the world, The Circle has a vision of equality for all women and girls in a fairer world, to inspire and connect, empower and respect. From offering support to girls living with HIV and AIDs to creating a peer-to-peer connecting network for female journalist working in conflict zones, it is a ground-breaking and life-changing initiative that would not exist without this remarkable woman.”

Cue a standing ovation, obviously - and one which left Lennox visibly embarrassed.

“You may seat,” she joked, waving at everyone to sit down. “And that’s enough of that music,” she added, feigning horror at the sound of her own voice pumping through the sound systems.

Lennox, clutching her award, continued: “This is a bit like having a slightly out of body experience. It’s very odd to be called an icon… although I have been called it in very strange places, like the supermarket or the women’s toilets. I don’t actually feel worthy. But I’m Scottish, and nobody Scottish every feels worthy really!

“Thank you very much Stylist magazine… giving people recognition for their achievements in the way you’re doing it is so very important, and something that hasn’t been done for many years. I must admit I stopped reading women’s magazines, except surreptitiously in the hairdressers, because some of the stuff in them was so toxic.”

Lennox, warming to her theme, insisted that the world is slowly becoming more comfortable with the F-word, but that we have so much further to go.

“I think we’ve got an awful lot longer to go around the world. Right at this moment in time, 1 in 3 women globally are impacted by physical or sexual violence. That is a fact. Also there are 750 million adults around the world who cannot read or write, and 2 out of 3 of those are women. And one last statistic: 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

“So while we’re here enjoying our platform, and celebrating fashion and style, I think it’s important we remember those issues. That’s why I’m endorsing the term ‘global feminist’, because that is where the future lies. It is an umbrella term, inclusive of everyone, all women: indigenous women, African American women, Latino women, Caucasian women… everyone from every walk of life, every colour race and creed, can all stand shoulder to shoulder with this term. And I know it’s controversial, but we need to start having this conversation with men and boys, too. Because I think that if we don’t have that dialogue and conversation with boys and men, then the violence just continues. That’s why men must describe themselves as global feminists.”

Lennox finished by saying: “I’m deeply committed to the concept of global feminism, and I hope that I might inspire some of you to start using the term.”

Congratulations once again to Annie Lennox, our very worthy winner of the Icon Award 2019. To follow all of the action from the 2019 Remarkable Women Awards, check out Stylist’s live blog here.

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Image: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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