It is no coincidence that International Women’s Day falls on March, the month named after the Roman god of war. Women have fought strenuously for their rights. From art studios to classrooms and government halls to battlefields across the ages, they have struggled to rise above the restrictions placed upon them and pursued legal, economic, and cultural recognition as humans and also leaders.
As the world celebrates women’s day, it’s the perfect time to look at the words and stories produced by girl power that transformed the way society look at the “weaker” sex. Below are ten books that have inspired women from all walks of life to reflection and action:
1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir’s examination of the treatment of women throughout history sparked what came to be known as second-wave feminism, a movement that looked into topics such as sexuality, family, reproductive health, and the workplace. In her own words, de Beauvoir described this book as an exposé on "the pervasiveness and intensity and mysteriousness of the history of women's oppression"
2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s poetry, memoirs, and essays became an anthem for women’s empowerment and social justice. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, American poet Maya Angelou shared a heartwarming story of how love of literature and the power of kindness helped her overcome racism and child abuse trauma.
3. I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai fought for her right to education and, for her presumption as a woman, was shot in the head by the Taliban but amazingly survived. Now her story is an assertion of every person’s right to education and a decent life. For her extraordinary courage, Malala became the youngest person to win the Nobel Prize.
4. Margaret Thatcher: the Autobiography
Margaret Thatcher was the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Even more amazingly, she held the office for almost twelve years, making her the longest-serving British prime minister in the past century.
Her autobiography combines her two memoirs: The Downing Street Years and The Path to Power. In this single volume, she narrated her story as a grocer’s daughter who writ her mark on history as the Iron Lady of the Western World.
5. Living History and Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Most of Living History looks back at Hillary Clinton’s years in the White House, during which she re-defined the role of the American First Lady. She became the first presidential spouse to become a senator and the first American woman to run for president in 2008. After a heated contest, she lost her party’s nomination to then-senator Barack Obama.
But President Obama named Hillary as Secretary of State, a position she held for four years. The book Hard Choices recounts those years when she served as America’s chief diplomat. As Americans choose their next President in November, the world awaits if she will be able to bring down what she called as America’s highest glass ceiling.
6. Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Aristophanes’ comedy tells the story of Greek women who wanted to stop their husbands from waging war. Their strategy? They all refused to sleep with their husbands (some of them tried at least) until they stopped the fighting. In the bitingly humorous quarrels and dialogues that followed, the play demonstrated to its viewers and readers that women are not the weaker sex when it comes to bringing social change.
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen described Elizabeth as the wittiest of the Bennet sisters – a trait that earned her the admiration of her father and the love of Mr. Darcy. Because of her intelligence and independent thinking, Elizabeth became a favorite heroine for readers around the world.
8. The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser
Historian Antonia Fraser’s The Warrior Queens delved into the lives and battles of women who led their nations in times of war. Though the warrior queens in Lady Fraser’s book differed in the challenges they faced, they all made sacrifices to save their countries and the people they love from death and ruin.
9. Fragments by Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most controversial women until today. Marilyn’s life may have been filled with one controversy after another, but Fragments shows a different side of Marilyn that is largely unknown to the public: a woman with a brilliant mind. Published fifty years after her death, the book contains notes to herself, letters, and poems that give beautiful glimpses to an extraordinary woman’s soul.
10. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler’s episodic play, which explores rape, menstruation, and sex among other topics, is regarded as one of the most important pieces of political theatre of the last decade and for a good reason: all the monologues touch different aspects of a woman’s becoming. Royalty-free performances of The Vagina Monologues are performed during V-Day, a global movement observed every year on February 14.
What’s your favorite women empowerment book? Share them with us via the comment box below.