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International Women’s Day 2016

The World Economic Forum predicts that it will take 117 years to achieve worldwide gender parity.  Until women everywhere have equal access to education and healthcare, equal employment opportunities and equal representation in politics, we will not live in an equal society- therefore the theme for International Women’s Day 2016 is #PledgeForParity. You can pledge your commitment to gender parity here– by agreeing to act as a role model for women, you can help women worldwide achieve parity before 2113!

Do the books you read, and the authors who write them, reflect the world you live in? In November, an eleven year old girl named Marley Dias began a campaign to collect 1,000 “black girl books”, after she became sick of reading books about “white boys and their dogs”! The hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks trended on Twitter and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres donated money to the cause. Many people thought that there simply weren’t enough books with black girl protagonists- according to one study, only 180 of the 3,500 children’s books published in 2014 featured black children, and less than 100 were written by black authors. But by 9th February, Marley had surpassed her goal- the books she has collected will be donated to schools in Marley’s home town and her mother’s birthplace, St Mary, Jamaica. The websites below have some great suggestions to diversify your reading and pledge your support for female authors worldwide.

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Alexandra Shipp will play Storm in the upcoming film X-Men: Apocalypse 

#WeAreWakanda takes its name from the fictional home of Marvel superhero Black Panther. Black Panther will appear in Captain America: Civil War and will get his own movie in 2018- but until now, superheroes of colour have barely featured in Marvel and DC’s billion-dollar movie line-up. #WeAreWakanda’s initial aim- to promote black visibility in comics- has expanded to include all media, as well as the fields of science and tech. Browse their #books tag on Tumblr for posts on Booker prizewinner Marlon James and National Book Foundation executive Lisa Lucas, Spider-Man actress Zendaya and Alexandra Shipp, who plays Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse. Their #comics tag features artwork from the new Black Panther comic, Marvel’s Ultimates and Star Wars. Follow them on Twitter and join in the discussion with the #WeAreWakanda hastag.

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Canadian writer and artist Kate Leth is the founder of the Valkyries

Comic books and graphic novels, their movie and TV adaptations, cartoon spin-offs, videogames and merchandise are overwhelmingly popular- but somehow, they are still perceived as “just for boys”! Kate Leth, a writer and artist on Adventure Time, Hellcat and Edward Scissorhands, grew tired of seeing female patrons and colleagues disparaged by men in her comic book shop. She founded the Valkyries, a network for women who work in comic book shops, and Valhalla, for women in bookshops, libraries, museums and publishing. The Valkyries meet up at comic conventions, host discussions on Twitter and share photos of members at work. If you work with comic books, or are thinking about becoming a bookseller or librarian, this badass group of women can offer advice and solidarity. Female writers and artists have historically received less critical acclaim than their male peers, and comic book publishing is still a male-dominated industry. To mark International Women’s Day, author Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel) launched the hashtag #VisibleWomen, and offered to retweet links for any female artists struggling to gain recognition for their work. She received links to hundreds of portfolios, collated in this Google Doc and this Storify feed. DeConnick has promised to do the same for writers, letterers and colourists, so be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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Kelly Sue DeConnick was named “the future of women in comics” by Vanity Fair 

Are you studying childcare or working with children? If you aren’t sure where to find age-appropriate books with diverse female characters, look no further than A Mighty Girl. Books are sorted according to age, cost and language, with real-life heroes like Frida Kahlo and Bessie Coleman appearing alongside their fictional counterparts. There are over 2,000 titles in total, as well as toys, games and clothes for your Mighty Girl/s. Teachers and librarians can sign up to the Book Club, and parents, carers and social workers can check out books on raising girls with self-esteem and limitless ambition.

Share your favourite female authors and female characters over on our Facebook Page. Happy International Women’s Day!

References

Skidmore, G Alexandra Shipp and Simon Kinberg accessed at https://flic.kr/p/w77Ayr on 09/03/2016

Monk, D Kate Leth accessed at https://flic.kr/p/mz6v3L on 09/03/2016

Loika, P Kelly Sue DeConnick accessed at https://flic.kr/p/ncoNHY on 09/03/2016

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