Gender inequality remains an inarguable fact across our society, a systemic failure long overdue for dismantling. And with huge numbers of women still facing discrimination on a daily basis, whether at home or in the workplace, it’s little wonder that the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘break the bias’.
IWD 2022 is an urgent call to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive world free of stereotypes and discrimination, where assumptions are challenged and theachievements of women are championed and given their due.
In recognition of the day, we’re highlighting a range of books from across our lists that spotlight just some of the countless women who changed the world, and offer solidarity and a hard-won blueprint for all those looking to #BreakTheBias.
On This Day She – Jo Bell, Tania Hershman, Ailsa Holland (Metro)
A twist on the tried, tested, and all-too-often-male-heavy ‘On this day…’ format, this collection begins to redress thebalance by shining a spotlight on theachievements of women long confined to the margins of history. A book that bounces from Beyoncé to Billie Jean King, Dorothy Porter to Emmeline Pankhurst; each day tells its own story: ranging from a young Annie Oakley’s first victory in a shooting contest to Jodie Whittaker’s debut as the first female Doctor. On This Day She gives space and voice to unsung icons and the deeds that made them great.
The Right Sort of Girl – Anita Rani (Blink)
‘I’m a girl and northern and brown, didn’t you know? A triple threat!’ Growing up in 80s Yorkshire in a Punjabi family, Anita Rani was always destined to stand out. Her bestselling debut memoir charts her path to becoming a true powerhouse and one of our country’s most beloved broadcasters. A tale of tenacity told with sparkling humour and forthright honesty, Rani shares the lessons she wishes her younger self had access to back then – and the stories that will speak to anyone who has ever questioned their place in theworld. This is the story of a girl who never fit in and the woman she became.
Witches Steeped in Gold – Ciannon Smart (Hot Key Books)
A Waterstones Best Book of 2021, Witches Steeped in Gold signalled thearrival of a fresh voice in thedisproportionately white male-dominated fantasy sphere. “Growing up,” says Ciannon Smart. “Black girls with swords weren’t ubiquitous; there were no Black queens or Black heroines leading armies in fantastical wars. I wanted to be part of a new fantasy canon, one spearheading magical Black girls doing something hitherto considered impossible.” The first instalment in her YA duology combines western magic with Caribbean island tales and puts the complexity and nuance of its dynamic and flawed Black witches at its centre. Readers took it to their hearts in droves.
Miss Willmott’s Ghosts – Sandra Lawrence (Blink)
Ellen Ann Willmott’s popular image today is as the prickly old lady who would spitefully sprinkle seeds of sea holly in theborders of the gardens she visited. It does one of the most remarkable horticulturalists this country has ever produced a great disservice. Sandra Lawrence’s upcoming biography reframes Willmott as a Victorian trailblazer who pushed the horticultural world to new heights – celebrating her myriad talents as a gardener, musician, antiquarian, and photographer: an audaciously imaginative polymath and talent ripe for rediscovery.
Art of Protest – De Nichols (Big Picture Press)
Artivist, designer and entrepreneur De Nichols’ Art of Protest is an exhilarating history of protest art, and a direct call to action that equips the reader with the tools to create their own. Weaving in theauthor’s own experiences and shining a spotlight on a generation of activists such as Greta Thunberg, Nadia Nazar, Helena Gualinga, Michelle Angela Ortiz, June Jordan and the Guerrilla Girls; this a guide to finding your tribe, raising your voice, and building on the legacy of the countless women who have fought for the causes they believed in, and changed the world in the process.
From CIA to CEO – Rupal Patel (Heligo)
A business book like no other. Rupal Patel spent years as an intelligence officer in thehigh-octane world of the CIA. Now thefield agent turned business leader shares the clandestine skills she developed in those days in this utterly-unique ops manual for entrepreneurs. Focused on empowering women in the business community to unlock their full potential and reach the top of their profession, From CIA to CEO is filled with exercises to rewire that Mission Impossible mindset and give readers the confidence to remake the rules and grasp their goals. Publishing in May.
Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon – Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (Nine Eight Books)
The subject of thousands of inches of print, her name dragged through gossip columns and achievements disregarded; Britney Spears, like countless successful women before her, has had her narrative rewritten and twisted by our insatiable tabloid culture. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike’s compelling re-examination of thehitmaker’s legacy celebrates Spears as a fighter, inspiration, and enigma; and firmly positions Britney back in her rightful place as the most iconic pop star of her generation.
The Audacity – Katherine Ryan (Blink)
From small-town Ontario to selling out arenas across the globe, Katherine Ryan has firmly established herself as one of live comedy’s most vital voices, capable of bouncing between the puerile and thepolitical in a sentence. The Audacity takes readers along on her journey to the top – and provides a blueprint for matching thelevels of unapologetic confidence, courage, and pure unadulterated audacitythat have helped propel her to superstardom. Make sure to check out theaudiobook too: featuring a stand-out turn from Katherine’s mum Julie, giving her own unique insight into what it’s really like to raise a comedic trailblazer. You can see exactly where Ryan got her timing.