March 8 marks
International Women's Day. On this day (and everyday, hopefully!) people across the world make it a priority to advance the rights of women of all backgrounds. This year's theme, #PressForProgress, encourages participants to advance gender parity by bringing together friends, colleagues, and communities: "And while we know that gender parity won't happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there's indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support. So we can't be complacent. Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressForProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive."
Action, empathy, and education are all necessary in the fight for equality — and much of that begins with books. Bustle asked the
organizers of the Women's March to name the feminist books they recommend to anyone looking to advance the fight for equality on International Women's Day and beyond. Here are 13 books (plus Together We Rise, the new book out from Women's March organizers!) to read this International Women's Day: $19, Together We Rise: Behind The Scenes At The Protest Heard Around The World, Amazon 'Ain't I A Woman' by bell hooks Recommended by Linda Sarsour, co-chair:
"This book opened my eyes to the idea that feminism has always been necessary but often painful, exclusive and valued some women more than others and that when Black women are fully a part of the feminist movement, we all win."
Click here to buy. 'Young, Gifted And Black' by Jamia Wilson Recommended by Sarah Sophie Flicker, National Organizer and Strategic Advisor:
"This is a wonderful book for all children. So often people of color and women are left out of our kids history books. This beautifully illustrated book brings the brilliant work of the great contributions of African Americans throughout history. My kids love it."
Click here to buy. 'This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color' edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa Recommended by Sarah Sophie Flicker, National Organizer and Strategic Advisor:
"This anthology of prose and poetry by Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women from the 1980's was one of the first works that I read that brought the foreground the ways in which the feminist movement was not inclusive of women of color. I return to this book again and again. The pros are beautiful and it is a reminder of the work that still has to be done."
Click here to buy. 'Parable of the Sower' by Octavia Butler Recommended by Ginny Suss, National Organizer and Producer:
"The story of a young woman of color, who's endlessly underestimated, and equally endlessly determined to embrace change, and change the world for the better within her community. It's an amazing example of afro-futurist sci-fi that speaks truth to power, and envisions a world that's possible in the face of disaster, one of our own making, one imagined by this young black woman. This story is about what's possible, and to me, that's at the heart of activism - figuring out how to build the kind of world we want to live in."
Click here to buy. 'Gender Trouble' by Judith Butler Recommended by Ginny Suss, National Organizer and Producer:
"I return to this book often. Here Judith Butler lays out the concept of gender as performance. I think the notion that that our gender identity is re-inscribed over and over again as we perform it throughout our life is very powerful. You don't have a gender you are born with first and then choose to perform it — instead, gender is created by the act of your performance. It helps us understand not just women, but men, the trans community, and the gender non-conforming community as well. As a feminist, I think it's important to understand the social constructions that inform gender identity."
Click here to buy. 'Zami: A New Spelling of My Name' by Audre Lorde Recommended by Sophie Ellman-Golan, Deputy of Communications:
"I read Audre Lorde's autobiography in college. It's an incredibly vulnerable window into her life as a Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet, the words she famously used to describe herself. She shares all of these pieces of herself with us. Zami made me see how my experience of womanhood could be vastly different from — and yet also connected to — another woman's experience of womanhood."
Click here to buy. 'Stone Butch Blues' by Leslie Feinberg Recommended by Sophie Ellman-Golan, Deputy of Communications:
"Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues was my first introduction to trans identity. It's a raw and painful novel about gender, trauma, identity, and change."
Click here to buy. 'The Handmaids Tale' by Margaret Atwood Recommended by Meredith Shepherd, Strategic Advisor and National Organizer:
"As disturbing as the Dystopian world of Gilead is, I value this book for the clues to the small ways that rights and privileges can be slowly stripped away- and what the sum of multiple smaller acts can become. I think it reminds us to speak up and act out."
Click here to buy. 'All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies' Edited by Akasha Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith Recommended by Janaye Ingram. Director of Logistics and National Organizer:
"I read this anthology a few years ago and there are essays and works within it that I pull from at various times when speaking or presenting. This anthology examines a history of the exclusion of Black women from traditional gender and race based movements, often denying Black women the opportunity to confront issues as a whole person. For me, this anthology delves deep into issues we are still dealing with, but affirms my place in the world and in any movement, while exposing me to writers, thinkers and activists who aren't as popular and mainstream, but whose thoughts and ideas have helped shape the movement."
Click here to buy. 'Women, Race, and Class' by Angela Davis Recommended by Janaye Ingram. Director of Logistics and National Organizer:
"I read this book in college and it always stands out in my mind as a book that helped shape my feminist view. The book reveals how the constructs of race and class intersected with the fight for gender equity in ways that we still see today."
Click here to buy. 'For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf' by Ntozake Shange Recommended by Paola Mendoza, Artistic Director:
"I first read this book in college while I was studying theater. As an immigrant and as a young woman of color the stories of my people weren't reflected anywhere in the theater program. I don't remember how I even got my hands on a copy of this glorious play but this play ignited a ferocious courage in me to make sure my stories, the stories of women of color were front in center in everything I did. Love, dignity, strength bravery, vulnerability and truth drip from every word in this book."
Click here to buy. 'El Libro de los Abrazos' by Eduardo Galeano Recommended by Paola Mendoza, Artistic Director:
"This book is a jewel of inspiration and strength. It is centered on the experience of Latin American activists during brutal dictatorships in the 70's but the lessons are universal and apply to what we are living through today. It might be hard to find the book in English but if you can read Spanish hold this book close to your heart."
Click here to buy. 'My Life on the Road' by Gloria Steinem Recommended by Breanne Butler, director of capacity building for Women’s March:
"I was ironically at the Daily Show when Gloria spoke with Trevor about the book, and I immediately went and got a copy. I couldn't put it down — I felt like I was traveling with Gloria and reliving her experiences. This book is about the importance of the human connection and appreciating the beauty and diversity in our communities!"
Click here to buy.