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Tag: refugees

International Women’s Month: #ChooseToChallenge

Well it’s March again, already and that means it’s International Women’s Month, with International Women’s Day specifically celebrated on March 8th.  This year the official theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge.  Challenge comes in many forms – you can challenge the status quo, challenge yourself, challenge others and of course, challenge gender bias and inequality.  So I’ve put together a list of biographies about women who have chosen to challenge in many forms.

Bad girls & wicked women : the most powerful, shocking, amazing, thrilling and dangerous women of all time / Stradling, Jan

“An historic survey of 22 of the most ruthless and ambitious women in history.” (Catalogue)

Yassmin’s story : who do you think I am? / Abdel-Magied, Yassmin

“At 21, Yassmin found herself working on a remote Australian oil and gas rig; she was the only woman and certainly the only Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian-with-some-Turkish-and-Moroccan-background Muslim woman. With her hijab quickly christened a “tea cosy” there could not be a more unlikely place on earth for a young Muslim woman to want to be. This is the story of how she got there, where she is going, and how she wants the world to change. Born in the Sudan, Yassmin and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two, and she has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organization focused on helping young people to work for positive change in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year. In 2011 Yassmin graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (First Class Honours), and in 2012 she was named Young Leader of the Year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards as well as an InStyle cultural leader and a Marie Claire woman of the future.” (Catalogue)

Fattily ever after / Yeboah, Stephanie

“Twenty-nine year-old plus-size blogger Stephanie Yeboah has experienced racism and fat-phobia throughout her life. From being bullied at school to being objectified and humiliated in her dating life, Stephanie’s response to discrimination has always been to change the narrative around body-image and what we see as beautiful. In her debut book, Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah speaks openly and courageously about her own experience on navigating life as a black, plus-sized woman – telling it how it really is – and how she has managed to find self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife. Featuring stories of every day misogynoir and being fetishized, to navigating the cesspit of online dating and experiencing loneliness, Stephanie shares her thoughts on the treatment of black women throughout history, the marginalisation of black, plus-sized women in the media (even within the body-positivity movement) whilst drawing on wisdom from other black fat liberation champions along the way. Peppered with insightful tips and honest advice and boldly illustrated throughout, this inspiring and powerful book is essential reading for a generation of black, plus-sized women, helping them to live their life openly, unapologetically and with confidence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

AOC : the fearless rise and powerful resonance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“From the moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a ten-term incumbent in the primary election for New York’s 14th, her journey to the national, if not world, stage, was fast-tracked. Six months later, as the youngest Congresswoman ever elected, AOC became one of a handful of Latina politicians in Washington, D.C. Just thirty, she represents her generation, the millennials, in many groundbreaking ways: proudly working class, Democratic Socialist, of Puerto Rican descent, master of social media, not to mention of the Bronx, feminist–and a great dancer. AOC investigates her symbolic and personal significance for so many, from her willingness to use her imperfect bi-lingualism, to why men are so threatened by her power, to the long history of Puerto Rican activism that she joins. (Adapted from Catalogue)

In her footsteps : where trailblazing women changed the world / Averbuck, Alexis

“Discover the lives and locations of trailblazing women who changed the course of history. From the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt and Empress Dowager Cixi’s summer palace in Beijing, to the homes and meeting sites of suffragette heroes Sylvia Pankhurst and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the creative workrooms of Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf, and the tennis courts where the Williams sisters first learned to play – we showcase female pioneers whose lives and actions continue to inspire today. In Her Footsteps is not only a celebration of incredible women, but a travel guide to the places where they studied, lived, worked, reigned and explored. We’ll tell you where to find the secret feminist history of sites around the world. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fight like a girl : 50 feminists who changed the world / Barcella, Laura

Fight Like a Girl profiles fifty iconic women who have worked to further women’s rights in a wide variety of ways.

Nearly every day there’s another news story or pop cultural anecdote related to feminism and women’s rights. #YesAllWomen, conversations around consent, equal pay, access to contraception, and a host of other issues are foremost topics of conversation in American (and worldwide) media right now. Today’s teens are encountering these issues from a different perspective than any generation has had before, but what’s often missing from the current discussion is an understanding of how we’ve gotten to this place. Fight Like a Girl will familiarize readers with the history of feminist activism, in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the cause of women’s rights. Profiles of both famous and lesser-known feminists will be featured alongside descriptions of how their actions affected the overall feminist cause, and unique portraits (artist’s renderings) of the feminists themselves. This artistic addition will take the book beyond simply an informational text, and make it a treasure of a book.” (Catalogue)

Jacinda Ardern : a new kind of leader / Chapman, Madeleine

“New Zealand’s prime minister has been hailed as a leader for a new generation, tired of inaction in the face of issues such as climate change and far-right terrorism.

Her grace and compassion following the Christchurch mosque shooting captured the world’s attention. Oprah Winfrey invited us to ‘channel our inner Jacindas’ as praise for Ardern flooded headlines and social media. The ruler of this remote country even made the cover of Time.

In this revealing biography, journalist Madeleine Chapman discovers the woman behind the headlines. Always politically engaged and passionate, Ardern is uncompromising and astute. She has encountered her fair share of sexism, but rather than let that harden her, she advocates ‘rising above’ disparagers. In her first press conference, she announced an election campaign of ‘relentless positivity’. The tactic was a resounding success- donations poured in and Labour rebounded in the polls.

But has Ardern lived up to her promise? What political concessions has she had to make? And beyond the hype, what does her new style of leadership look like in practice?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Know your place / Ghahraman, Golriz

“The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history

When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong. The story of a child refugee who faced her fears, found her home and accidentally made history When she was just nine, Golriz Ghahraman and her parents were forced to flee their home in Iran. After a terrifying and uncertain journey, they landed in Auckland where they were able to seek asylum and – ultimately – create a new life. In this open and intimate account, Ghahraman talks about making a home in Aotearoa New Zealand, her work as a human rights lawyer, her United Nations missions, and how she became the first refugee to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Passionate and unflinching, Know Your Place is a story about breaking barriers, and the daily challenges of prejudice that shape the lives of women and minorities. At its heart, it’s about overcoming fear, about family, and about finding a place to belong.” (Catalogue)

Not that I’d kiss a girl : a Kiwi girl’s tale of coming out and coming of age / O’Brien, Lil

“‘Not That I’d Kiss a Girl triumphantly joins the select few New Zealand examples of the autobiographical coming-out genre. Compulsively readable and very much aware of the world, O’Brien’s memoir is suspenseful and engaging.’ David Herkt, New Zealand Herald.

A heartbreaking and hilarious true story of coming out as gay in New Zealand.” (Catalogue)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg : a life / De Hart, Jane Sherron

“The definitive account of an icon who shaped gender equality for all women. In this comprehensive, revelatory biography — fifteen years of interviews and research in the making — historian Jane Sherron De Hart explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, and her meticulous jurisprudence. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs was her Jewish background, specifically the concept of tikkun olam, the Hebrew injunction to ‘repair the world’, with its profound meaning for a young girl who grew up during the Holocaust and World War II. Ruth’s journey began with her mother, who died tragically young but  whose intellect inspired her daughter’s feminism. It stretches from Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School to Cornell University to Harvard and Columbia Law Schools; to becoming one of the first female law professors in the country and having to fight for equal pay and hide her second pregnancy to avoid losing her job; to becoming the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and arguing momentous anti-sex-discrimination cases before the US Supreme Court. All this, even before being nominated in 1993 to become the second woman on the Court, where her crucial decisions and dissents are still making history. Intimately, personably told, this biography offers unprecedented insight into a pioneering life and legal career whose profound impact will reverberate deep into the twenty-first century and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Sitting pretty : the view from my ordinary resilient disabled body / Taussig, Rebekah

“A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting-pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most. Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life. Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Want to explore more biographies about women?  Click here to begin.

New Books

about the ordinary teen:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Life, You Suck, Scott Blagden (306 pages) – Irreverent, foulmouthed seventeen-year-old Cricket is the oldest ward in a Catholic boys’ home in Maine—and his life sucks. With prospects for the future that range from professional fighter to professional drug dealer, he seems doomed to a life of “criminal rapscallinity.” In fact, things look so bleak that Cricket can’t help but wonder if his best option is one final cliff dive into the great unknown. But then Wynona Bidaban steps into his world, and Cricket slowly realizes that maybe, just maybe, life doesn’t totally suck.

First lines: “The shrinkadinks think I have a screw loose. Ain’t playing with a full deck. Whacked-out wiring. Missing marbles.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEscape Theory, Margaux Froley (269 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counsellor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide. Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but as the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn’t have taken his own life.

First lines: “Those Nutter Butters are going to need milk. Devon glared at the package of peanut butter cookies at the foot of her bed. The bright red plastic caught the light from her desk lamp, taunting her, daring her to break into the package.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThings I Can’t Forget, Miranda Kenneally (312 pages) – Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different. This summer she’s a counsellor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counsellor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her. Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy.

First lines: “Girls like me do not buy pregnancy tests. I drag my pencil down the paper, drawing tears rolling from her eyes. Girls like me sing in the church choir.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOpenly Straight, Bill Konigsberg (320 pages) – Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write. And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time. So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

First lines: “If it were up to my dad, my entire life would be on video. Anything I do, he grabs his phone. “Opal,” he’ll yell to my mother. “Rafe is eating corn flakes. We gotta get this on film.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOut of Nowhere, Maria Padian (337 pages) – At Maquoit High School, Tom Bouchard has it made: captain and star of the soccer team, boyfriend to one of the prettiest, most popular girls, and third in his class, likely to have his pick of any college, if he ever bothers filling out his applications. But life in his idyllic small Maine town quickly gets turned upside down after the events of 9/11. Enniston has become a “secondary migration” location for Somali refugees, who are seeking a better life after their country was destroyed by war—they can no longer go home. Tom hasn’t thought much about his Somali classmates until four of them join the soccer team, including Saeed. But when Saeed’s eligibility is questioned and Tom screws up in a big way, he’s left to grapple with a culture he doesn’t understand and take responsibility for his actions.

First lines: “It’s like he came out of nowhere. I was stuck, okay? I’ll man up to that. We were playing Marquoit High School. I mean, more than half their guys play four-season private club soccer. Olympic Development Program, that sort of thing.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBruised, Sarah Skilton (274 pages) – Imogen has always believed that her black belt in Tae Kwon Do made her stronger than everyone else–more responsible, more capable. But when she witnesses a holdup in a diner, she freezes. The gunman is shot and killed by the police. And it’s all her fault. Now she’s got to rebuild her life without the talent that made her special and the beliefs that made her strong. If only she could prove herself in a fight – a real fight – she might be able to let go of the guilt and shock. She’s drawn to Ricky, another witness to the holdup, both romantically and because she believes he might be able to give her the fight she’s been waiting for.

First lines: “By the time my brother arrives, he can’t get to me. The cops have barricaded the diner – two blocks in all directions. blood and worse coats my hair, my face, and my clothes, sticking to me like chunks of blackberry jam. They had to cut me out of my shirt, but since they can’t cut me out of my skin, I don’t see how I’ll ever be clean.”