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Leading Scottish ladies strike out against domestic violence. Women from worlds of acting, fashion, business and law unite to form new group

Posted by Adrian Doherty Oxfam Scotland Social & Digital Media Volunteer

12th Dec 2011

A network of high-profile women yesterday marked the formation of the Scottish Circle, a new group dedicated to campaigning and fundraising for women's rights at home and abroad.

The 12 members - including actress Daniela Nardini, former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angolini, Trespass clothing's Farah Khushi and Asian businesswoman of the year 2009 Poonam Gupta - were inspired to form the Scottish Circle after meeting Scottish singer and Oxfam Ambassador Annie Lennox, who set up a similar group in England.

The Scottish Circle, supported by Oxfam, aims to raise funds and focus public attention on the countries and places where violence against women is still "positively encouraged". Oxfam's 'We Can' campaign has already seen 350,000 men and women sign up globally to become 'change makers', campaigners who alter social attitudes to domestic violence from the grassroots upwards.

Farah Khushi, a prominent Pakistani/Scot and the wife of Trespass Clothing co-owner Akmal Khushi, said:

"These issues are real and they are deadly. Gender inequality is a problem everywhere in the world, but there are some women who are denied the basic human right which is to feel safe in their own homes. We want to change things by helping men understand that to use violence or threats of violence as a means of controlling women is neither acceptable, nor is it in their own interest, or that of society."

Daniela Nardini, star of recent BBC drama The Fades, added:

"It's hard to know where to begin when it comes to women's issues as there are so many injustices happening not only in this country but throughout the world. Violence is not only being used against women but actively encouraged in some countries. It is imperative we raise awareness surrounding this and encourage change."

The Circle officially launched at a fundraising lunch held by the women in Glasgow's Blythswood Square Hotel, sponsored by Scottish Circle member and entrepreneur Rita Ahmad who runs beauty treatment centre Peppermint Studios. Mrs Khushi will then travel to Pakistan later this month to visit Oxfam projects. In March next year, to mark International Women's Day, the Circle will hold a larger fundraising event.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:

"Across the globe, gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women of child bearing age than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. The first Circle has raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Oxfam, and has helped to bring these issues to a huge new audience. I'm excited to think what the Scottish Circle will go on to achieve."

The full membership of the Scottish Women's Circle is Farah Khushi (charity fundraiser and businesswoman), Poonam Gupta (Asian businesswoman of the year 2009), Jackie Morris (businesswoman), Dame Elish Angiolini (Former Lord Advocate), Daniela Nardini (actress), Kelly Cooper-Barr (fashion stylist), Vicki Fleming-Brown (fashion stylist), Alison Newton (corporate lawyer), Lana Haj-Yahi (Palestinian actress), Rita Ahmad (Asian businesswoman of the year 2010), Ainslie Currie (celebrity make-up artist) & Alison Newton (lawyer). 

Blog post written by Adrian Doherty

Oxfam Scotland Social & Digital Media Volunteer

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