Around the world, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. Originally founded in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the women who have fought for change and is an opportunity to discuss current issues faced by different people across the world and what can be done to initiate change, inspired by those who have gone before us.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight just a few individuals, groups, projects and reading materials that you can watch, read, follow and get involved in.
You can also watch my International Women’s Day Reading List video here.
Rowan Ellis is a YouTuber and activist. She creates some of the most thoughtful, well produced and interesting videos I have ever come across online. Through these videos, she explores LGBTQ+ topics, feminism, sexism, homophobia, and media (incl. television and film). She also runs a fortnightly twitter chat using the hashtag #femtubechat, which may be of particular interest to those of you who create your own online content or have been considering doing so.
Marina Watanabe has been making engaging, insightful and informative content on YouTube and elsewhere for more than four years now. In her videos, she covers issues including feminism, sexism, body image and sexuality. She is also a contributor & social media associate at the Everday Feminism website.
Abortion rights are never something to be complacent about even in countries where a woman has the right to choose (which does not include all of the UK). Your first port of call when looking to support, protect and improve abortion rights in the UK should probably be the Abortion Rights website, ‘the national pro-choice campaign’. Their website is full of ways that you can get involved with supporting a woman’s right to choose and if you live outside of the UK it is also worth looking into what campaign groups exist where you live.
Women’s Aid is a UK organisation that support women who have been affected by providing training and consultancy to domestic abuse agencies, informative campaigns to raise awareness amongst the populace and law enforcement, and routes to aid women in getting out of abusive situations.
Engender is a public sector organisation that aims to address and combat gender inequality in Scotland. This includes improving political, economic and social equality.
Looking for some suggestions of who to follow on twitter? From left to right:
The STUC Women’s Committee brings together women trade unionists to conduct various campaigns and have aided projects such as the production of this short film featuring women’s rights activists in Palestine.
Fancy some more reading? First up, I would suggest heading over to the Dangerous Women Project’s website for an array of phenomenal articles that would make perfect reading for International Women’s Day and every day after that.
There are more than enough contributions on this website to keep you occupied for hours. The project was set up by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University. It began on International Women’s Day 2016 and its aim has been to curate 365 pieces answering the question what does it mean to be a ‘dangerous women?’ by International Women’s Day 2017. This includes articles on current affair topics, creative writing pieces, historical research (see my own contribution on the myth of sisters Procne & Philomela here) and even multimedia contributions. One of my favourites has been this spoken word poem by Agnes Török:
If you find yourself frustrated by the way in which lists of ‘books you should read in your lifetime’ are dominated by male authors with barely a woman in site, feel free to take part in my personal 100 Women Writers challenge. Even if you do not want to read everyone on the list you might find a few new authors to check out.
You could also check out the BAILEY’S Women’s Fiction Prize, previously known as the Orange Prize for Fiction. In response to the lack of recognition of female authors by other literary prizes, this award was set up to recognise full-length fiction written by women in any given year. Some of their past awards have gone to authors including Ali Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Madeline Miller, Zadie Smith and most recently Lisa McInerney. You can find a complete list of their long-listed and short-listed books here. Their 2017 long-list is announced on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day.
Looking for something more visual? Here are a small selection of films and graphic novels dealing with significant moments in history and more recently.