Amid some of the digital headaches for musicians in 2016, from the ‘value gap’ of YouTube royalties to trolling and harassment on social networks, Annie Lennox is tapping into some of the more positive aspects of the internet.

Lennox has founded a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called The Circle, focusing on equality for women and girls around the world. The internet and social media are key to spreading its message.

“The internet is unquestionably one of the most powerful vehicles of communication the world has ever seen,” said Lennox in an interview published by The Lovie Awards, which has made her its 2016 ‘Person of the Year’.

“We can access countless organisations from every corner of the globe represented on the internet. We can source information with our fingertips. Information is educational and education brings power, which in turn brings change.”

The Circle will focus on issues including education, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights, human rights and legal rights, among others.

“In many countries, the issues affecting the empowerment of girls and women are frowned upon and seen as taboo,” said Lennox.

“The internet can offer the opportunity for safe exchanges of information and dialogue without fear of reprisal or censorship. If used positively and constructively, it can clearly be a revolutionising, world-changing tool.”

YouTube video

Lennox hopes that the award will inspire others to “use the internet as a tool for advocacy and positive social activism” and continue the work of activists in the pre-internet era.

“I have inherited the benefits that have improved my life from the sacrifices [made by] the women of the Suffragette movement, from my great-grandmother’s generation,” she said.

“I can’t take this for granted, especially as I have personally witnessed just how much work there is to be done to change the outmoded attitudes and barbaric practices which systematically blight the lives of millions of women and girls globally.”

Current projects being supported by The Circle include planting rice fields in Sri Lanka; challenging sexual and domestic violence against women in India; training women to become rickshaw drivers in Pakistan; and launching a network for female journalists working in the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Circle came about because I wanted to start a dialogue and have association with other women to become more engaged with these issues, and bring about change to bridge that gap,” said Lennox.

“The mission of The Circle is to inspire women and create an environment where they can come together to share experiences, harness their skills, draw on their resources and bring about lasting change. Ultimately, to support some of the most disempowered women and girls in the world, as they challenge and change the injustice of inequality.”

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