The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, a celebration of women and their achievements the world over, and the chance, for anyone willing to take it, both to remember the great strides that have historically been taken against gender inequality and the suppression of female voices, and to think about where there’s still room for improvement, and how that might be achieved.
International Women’s Day, then, is a celebration of voices that have previously gone unheard or ignored, and of the creativity, strength and determination of women. But what about the well-established inequalities that hold many women back?
This is a topic that has given rise to lots of controversy. The #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns have clearly emphasised the need for change and action in regards to the treatment of women, and of crimes committed against women, and award ceremonies are being consistently – and vocally – criticised for a bias against women, who are continually under-represented in a number of categories.
In addition to this, recently-published figures on gender-based wage gaps have highlighted ongoing issues in that area, and while the number of women in senior positions in the UK has increased, multiple industries are still male-dominated.
While in many cases women do have a voice and are encouraged to speak out, it’s not the case that everyone always listens – or takes them seriously. In those same award ceremonies, there is a long-standing bias against people of colour, and while women in some societies have, for example, the right to vote, this isn’t the case across the board.
Celebrating Women’s Writing: Fiction (Waterstones blog) considers some of the most memorable fictional women as part of their campaign to mark 100 years of the first women’s right to vote in Britain.
Penguin are celebrating International Women’s Day with their #LikeAWoman campaign, for which they have established a pop-up bookshop. They identify a number of key inspirational books written by women, and consider the diversity of women’s writing on their blog, in Five transgender trailblazers for International Women’s Day.
In The League of Australian Women Fantasy Writers: A Short History (Unbound Worlds), Kim Wilkins looks into the exciting world of Australian fantasy writers, the history of the genre in Australia, and the influences that might have contributed to its popularity over and above other genres.
In There’s a True Story Behind Black Panther’s Strong Women. Here’s Why That Matters (TIME), Arica L. Coleman talks about Marvel’s Black Panther, and its inspirational female characters. Coleman draws attention to historical parallels and the long-established and damaging stereotypes that Black Panther actively denies and dismisses, and considers the importance of representation – especially when it is so high profile. This is exacerbated by the fact that media products of this kind are still frustratingly rare.
In 4 New Dystopian Novels with Feminist Focuses (Unbound Worlds), Matt Staggs highlights a number of recently-published dystopian novels written by women, with a nod to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The gender inequality foregrounded in these books is pointed and important, as the world in which we live is not so different, and our distance from their bleak perspectives not nearly large enough.
Reading around the Web is a weekly feature of recommended non-fiction reading. In last week’s installment, I highlight newly-published pieces on the topic of education.