International Women’s Day: 8 books every feminist must read

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The United Nations officially founded International Women’s Day in the year 1975, and two years later, the UN General Assembly roused all member states to join the celebration for women’s rights and world peace on March 8th.

Prior to 1975, the first National Women’s Day is believed to have been founded in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America in honour of the garment workers’ strike in 1908 in New York. This was when women working in garment factories marched down the streets to protest poor working conditions.

Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day to remember the achievement and effort of those who dedicate their lives to showcase the inequality amongst the sexes, economically, culturally and systematically. 

We’ve gathered our favourite books on the topics of feminism - from discussing the history of feminism to modern-day feminism - see below our top 8 suggestions every feminist must read.

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We Should All Be Feminists

The famous, personal yet powerful essay written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been published into a short book. The essay highlights many issues embedded within society, adapted from her well-loved TedX Talk. Adichie represents a well-informed argument and case explaining the definition of feminism in the 21st century, linking to sexual politics and more.

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Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Invisible Women is a must-read book housing well-researched data, leaving readers with eyebrows raised and heaving a sigh of discomfort. The extensive knowledge buried within the pages discloses how patriarchy has built a world for men. From government policy, medical research, the media or even the workplace, author Caroline Criado Perez’s case studies show how the size of the average phone is too large for women; doctors often prescribe drugs that aren’t suited for you but your male counterparts; and how women are 47% more likely to be injured in a car crash.

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Women & Power: A Manifesto

The witty and charismatic Mary Beard explores the gender agenda, flicking through the pages of history and presenting a discussion on how the public sphere has treated powerful women. Starting from classical Medusa and Athena to ex-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May and previous candidate for presidency Hilary Clinton, the book brings to light the cultural and systematic misogyny that were often overlooked, especially in high places. The #metoo movement also presented Beard with a new case to discuss which she does brilliantly, especially in the current climate, highlighting the issues of rape and consent.

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It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race

2016 saw British Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, link the radicalisation of Muslim men to the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women. This left author Mariam Khan pondering if she knew anyone who thought that way; by stepping onto the topics of privilege, she questioned why this was coming from someone with no affiliation, someone neither a woman nor Muslim. This subject alone has long circulated around the world, with the voices of Muslim women being overshadowed by white males, thus stealing the spotlight in the process. This book opens up a discussion among 17 Muslim women on subjects including the hijab, faith, sexuality and feminism.

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Bad Feminist

Roxane Gay, New York Times Bestselling author, honours a collection of essays on topics surrounding politics, feminism and criticism. In a somewhat witty manner, Roxanne intellectually carries a well thought out and easily-readable essays through her journey as a woman of colour. Gay steps into the puddles of controversial topics that are at the forefront of debate in feminism such as abortion and that singer Chris Brown.

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The Guilty Feminist: From our noble goals to our worst hypocrisies

Deborah Frances-White, author of The Sunday Times bestseller The Guilty Feminist, teases a challenge for readers while wholeheartedly empowering them to see the world through a different lens. Throughout the book, Frances-White encourages debate on #metoo, men’s rights, workplace inclusion, your favourite romantic comedies, pornography, and urgent questions women of the current generation struggle to answer. Speaking with experts, activists and everyone in-between, you’ll learn to have control in dialogue with colleagues, friends and family, and learning to say ‘no’, when you don’t want to do something.

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The Feminine Mystique

One of the popular theorists’ books of feminism came about in 1963, and shines a light on second-wave feminism. Anna Quindlen and Gail Collins both highlight societal and systematic issues that women have faced over the past half century, including women in higher education and the treatment of female mental illness patients. The stereotype goes: women act as cogs of consumerism but never creation, leading the discourse of feminism for the past 50 years.

The Second Sex. (PHOTO: Book Depository)

The Second Sex (Vintage Feminism Short Edition)

The book opens with an introduction written by the eloquent British writer Natalie Haynes, who praised the passages of the book. Originally published in 1949, The Second Sex short edition is a concise book featuring all the main cases of De Beauvoir’s original vintage book ‘The Second Sex’. In it, he argued: “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman’ switched on light bulbs in the heads of a generation of women and began a fight for greater equality and economic independence.”