On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I thought: Why not base my new article on women-empowered books?
International Women’s Day is a day to respect women for all they have done, the world they have shaped and all that they have brought together. It is typically celebrated on March 8th, and my school has a special book display just for women as well. We don’t particularly dress up and completely celebrate International Women’s Day, but our librarian puts out a wide array of books, to encourage the women and girls in our school!
Today, I’m back with three more, wonderful books about women empowerment and what it means to be a woman.
The first book is, ‘I AM MALALA’, by Malala Yousafzai. I look up to Malala Yousafzai as my biggest inspiration, and she inspires me to take on challenges and fight for female rights. Women deserve everything that men already have access to, because they are as good as men and have been instrumental in shaping half the world. This is an autobiography, written by a change-maker. In ‘I Am Malala’, we learn about Malala’s life as a girl with a broken education, and how she fought to make sure that girls like her did receive an education. We follow all Malala’s doubts, and the small steps she started with (writing public journal entries, taking interviews) that led to the big change she managed to make. ‘I Am Malala’ is a very touching story about how Malala went against everyone she knew, took some of the most daring steps in history and suffered a near fatal injury just to ensure equality in this world. Just to ensure that her friends would grow up to be something they dreamt of. Just to ensure that women were not being abused and following their dreams. This story is one very close to my heart, and I honestly feel that I was listening to Malala speak directly to me through this book. It still, to this day, shocks me how determined and strong she was and still remains. I think of Malala whenever I hear a boy shutting a girl out for being a girl, or someone being discouraged because they are girls. Reading this book made me feel strong, determined and content about being a female. And beyond that, much beyond that, makes me want to do my little bit to make sure that girls all around the world have an education and a chance to find the strength that lies within them.
The second book is, ‘THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS’, by Robert Munsch. Robert Munsch has written a variety of different picture books, which skillfully touch on topics such as bullying, women empowerment and kindness. ‘The Paper Bag Princess’ is an excellent example of how determined and strong one girl can be, but how easily they can be taken for granted. The story follows Elizabeth, a grand princess with many luxuries, as she struggles to rescue her true love from the clutches of a fire-breathing dragon. He blew down her castle and belongings, and all that is left of her grand dresses is a paper bag, which she wears without a fuss. Using her quick wit and intelligence, the determined princess deceives the dragon and is reunited with her true love. However, a turn of events takes place as Elizabeth realizes that her prince only liked her for her neatness and wealth. They never did marry, after all. I love this book for how simply it portrays injustice to women, and how they are always ordered around to be dressed primly and look proper. This story defies all those stereotypes, using a paper bag as a sign of determination. No longer will there be damsels in distress and princes coming to save them; but instead, princes in distress and determined princesses to the rescue.
The last book is, ‘LITTLE WOMEN’, written by Louisa May Alcott. ‘Little Women’ was written in a place and time where society was a male-dominated one, and there wasn’t really any scope for women beyond housework and children. ‘Little Women’ skillfully follows the lives of four sisters, living in poverty while their father fights in the army. Each one of them is their own distinct personality, and aspires to be more than just maidens. Margaret (Meg) had fashionable dreams, Elizabeth (Beth) had simple dreams, Amy had cinematic dreams and Josephine (Jo) had firm and literacy dreams. The four sisters had grown up in a society where they were expected to do housework, and found themselves all desiring different lives. They are all torn between loyalty to their family and loyalty to themselves. Jo, the most “masculine” one, has firm dreams about being a writer and actress and not ever marrying. She had never done anything to shame her family, but at the same time, could not imagine being confined to the little space, in which women were restricted to at that time. We follow the adventures, quarrels and lives of each sister as they battle with the challenges of sisterhood, growing up and choosing between their family and themselves. Each one has a struggle, but it is not without struggles that they realize that their culture is to follow the rules. In the end, all four sisters succumb to the normal expectations and fate of a housewife, and give in to the society. But, they did not go down without a fight. Personally, I connect with Jo the most, as she is the most empowered which makes her conformity in the end that much more tragic. I feel like this story not only shows how difficult it is to grow up, but the pressure that was put on women of that time to follow the rules and live up to the expectations. Jo would be shunned, had she followed her dreams and become an author! However, as I read the book, I found myself wondering whether it would be any different if they were living in today’s day and age? For the March sisters, I think it would be different. I think they would be able to follow their dreams and would be free to do what they desired. But, there are so many women (still) around the world who don’t get to follow their dreams, and are not given the right to pursue their own calling or profession. Women all around the world are still held back, treated unequally, still confined to a tiny space. These are women who have grown up in this day and age, not when “Little Women” was first published. These are women who seek change, but whose voices are not being heard. This book is a reminder that we should keep fighting for fundamental women rights and education, and that we haven’t solved the problem yet. I believe that “Little Women” is an excellent reminder of this, and that every young girl should read it at least once in her lifetime.
All in all, these books will hopefully make you contemplate that all of us can make a difference, and that women have a significant role in this world and shape its existence and values. These three books are my favourite examples about women empowerment! So, this International Women’s Day, let’s all appreciate women together. Tell a woman in your life how much you appreciate her, and remember to never let your vanity get the best of you!
Happy International Women’s Day!!!!!