It's International Women's Day, and here at The Willoughby Book Club we'll be celebrating.
I'd like to think that in 2023 the need to highlight the importance of IWD would be less than ever. In reality, the complete opposite is true.
International Women's Day, with it's theme of 'embrace equity', is one day out of the 365 days where the issues faced by all women, past and present, are spotlighted.
So let's all embrace equity in reading, as we know that it is more important than ever for everyone to have access to, and read, books by women.
A recent Guardian article reports that only 2% of GSCE English students study a text written by a female author. There is also a real dearth of female characters in the set texts, with 69% of modern prose and drama featuring a male protagonist. The End Sexism in Schools charity (ESIS) responsible for the published report, states that the books featured on the curriculum should go further than “the voiceless victims and servants we see repeatedly in the perennially popular texts”.
As readers, and as women, these are very frustrating statistics to read. Our hope for the future is that both girls and boys are exposed to the rich, rewarding, and wide-ranging stories of female authors. Furthermore, it is essential that there is a diversity of female characters, including those who are strong, resilient and have agency and voices of their own.
Women's fiction isn't a genre in itself. To dismiss stories about half the population as niche not only discredits the hard work of women authors, but also devalues us as human beings. Books are incredible tools, that enable us to dream beyond the confines of our circumstances, arming us with compassion and empathy, and daring us to think bigger and better.
Today, let's celebrate women, and all our abilities and potential. Let's support and uplift one another and stand together in solidarity. Let's honour all our achievements, strength and resilience, and let's continue to work together toward a better future for women and girls everywhere.
I couldn't be more proud to be the owner of a small business staffed exclusively (a coincidence, not through design!) by amazing women. We have all the challenges of any other business at present, but whatever we're facing, it's with the support of a fantastic team.
For every subscription purchased, we donate a book to Book Aid International; a really inspiring organisation that supports literacy projects around the world. We cannot embrace equity without equity of opportunity, and this applies for literacy, as well as the broader issues affecting us all in the current climate of inflation.
It's important to honour those women who have preceded us, who broke down barriers and fought for the rights we often take for granted nowadays, as well as all the creators, innovators, artists and entrepreneurs who have helped shape our world.
Happy International Women's Day.