Field Trip: Chime For Change, London

Earlier this month, the Chime for Change campaign assembled an impressive line-up of talent, raising awareness about issues affecting women globally. Kayleigh Davies was there.

What does feminism represent today? Are we living in a post-feminist society? Chime for Change – “a new global campaign to raise funds and awareness for girls’ and women’s empowerment” – aims to draw the media’s eye back to a battle that remains undecided.

Timed to commemorate 100 years since the death of suffragette Emily Davison, it didn’t hurt that organisers Salma Hayek and Gucci designer, Frida Giannini, booked the likes of Beyoncé (above), Madonna and Jennifer Lopez for a Twickenham stadium concert whose proceeds will help fund 120 projects supporting women and girls in more than 70 countries.

The stadium transformed for one night only into a platform for women’s rights campaigners, enabling the showcase – dubbed the ‘Feminist live aid’ – to advocate a shift towards a fourth wave feminist movement. 50,000 guests purchased tickets that would exchange as funding for women’s enhancement placements across the world following the gig, allowing each person to more positively steer the fate of a young girl or woman, no doubt in stark contrast to their own.

“Discussions of sex trafficking and harassment were just the beginning”

Commanding the kind of superstar line-up you just won’t find every day the crowd, unsurprisingly, combined people attracted to the celebrity names as well as supporters of the cause. This mattered less than you may think, as the emotions elicited from speeches, videos and the documentaries played meant something even to those without prior expectations of being moved. Discussions of sex trafficking and harassment were just the beginning, moving people to reflection, in some cases, upon their own naïveté.

This diverse audience provided an interesting whirlwind of reactions; all around tears become rivers along faces, as heart wrenching videos were played of candid horror-stories. Making it all the more incongruous then as screams of joy greet the arrival of Jay Z to rap alongside his wife, Beyoncé. But this mixture of emotions didn’t serve to obscure the reason why we were all there, the feel to the evening appearing to impact upon us all in the same way – we were a part of something bigger than one night of performances.

Revellers were provided real information, invoking a sense of importance to the event as a formidable army of female crusaders created a stage for recognisable names to discuss women’s rights issues internationally, hoping to reach further into their audience by approaching the subject matter through a more populist prism than previously.

Chime opens a new chapter, representing women who fight for justice and equality as established and successful. Funded by Gucci, the entertainment provided could only be described as glitzy, but it did serve to provide a platform on which to deliver a celebration of women, thus aiding the strength of the message.

“A banner above the stage asks, ‘how can we move forward if half of us are held back?’”

A banner above the stage asks, ‘how can we move forward if half of us are held back?’, moving us to reflect on the women in our own lives: our mothers, sisters, aunties or even in some cases, our idols, asking if these people deserve the same chances as our fathers, brothers and uncles. Despite the scale of the night’s bash, the message was unequivocal and personal, so to make onlookers examine their place in the struggle.

The concert sparked with electricity, an emotionally charged audience dancing their way through sets watched, listening to the positive messages emanating from the stage; it was in unity that we celebrated the changes ahead, and in turn, vowed to help lead the crusade towards women’s empowerment in all corners of the globe, chiming ‘for every girl, every woman, everywhere’.

Broadcast in more than 150 countries, highlighting the state of emergency women are facing worldwide, the campaign operates on three main fronts of health, justice and education, and is said to have raised millions through the concert alone. Reaching audiences far and wide, perhaps Chime for Change will have helped to instigate an evolution in the way we think about this thing we call feminism.

Leaving the event, a sense of relief flooded sections of the crowd; this is finally being talked about! Although it may not be by people who have studied the subject for years or hold a PhD in feminist history, these women are using their positions to spread their message to hungry young minds, a message that says we can forge a worthy future, by introducing feminism to the mainstream. We look forward to what comes next.

Kayleigh Davies

Images courtesy Yui Mok/PA Wire

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Posted on 21/06/2013 by thedoublenegative