Emma Thompson, Global Director of Marketing and Communications, celebrates Annie Lennox as part of Equality Now’s 30 for 30, featuring 30 women and changemakers who have played a key role in making equality reality as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.
I was thirteen when I watched Annie Lennox perform Under Pressure with David Bowie at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Whilst I bobbed around my living room, I watched this remarkable, majestic human sweep onto the stage. As I watched her, I became aware, in my own teenage way, that she was more than a rock star. She was a rock star who gave part of herself so things could be better.
Throughout an expansive, ever-evolving, multi-award-winning career spanning more than forty years, Annie Lennox has used the platform she has worked hard for to highlight social injustice. Her catalog of tours, exhibitions, campaigns, videos, and even whole albums are dedicated to the issues she feels connected to.
In founding The Circle, an organization of global feminists working to economically empower women and girls, she made her commitment to feminism clear. But when I look at the other areas she has advocated for: HIV/AIDs, homelessness, LGBTQI+ rights, climate change, poverty, and the arts (in fact, Annie has supported 86 not-for-profits to date), I see a feminist approach threaded through each.
The power of one, as well as the power of many; championing the importance of representation and collaboration; using privilege to challenge the status quo, and that equality is about balance and freedom. These are hallmarks of feminism that I apply to my work at Equality Now. It’s also why honoring Annie Lennox as one of our 30 Women for 30 Years is such a joy.
Through her activism and philanthropy, Annie Lennox is helping to keep the issue of women’s equality in social discourse. Whether through campaigns like the #OneReasonWhyImaGlobalFeminist campaign, as a UN Goodwill Ambassador or as Glasgow University’s first-ever female Chancellor, or on stage or in the media, she makes sure that her audiences do not forget the realities of sexual violence and the economic, education, and health inequalities that women and girls face.
And to balance that inequality, she’s raised millions for women and girls. That money has supported many initiatives, including campaigning for a fair wage for exploited women working in fabric factories, domestic violence shelters, self-advocacy workshops, and sexual violence response centers, helping to support 160,000 women and girls around the world.
And all of this, she does in a respectful, intelligent, considerate, yet bold way. Thank you, Annie, for the music and all you have done for women and girls everywhere. You first placed a thrill in my heart when I was a teenager—and continue to today.