March 8 is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate the global achievements of women. The theme in Canada for the 2012 International Women’s Day is “Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality.”
Having greater numbers of women in positions of leadership is just one measure of equality, but it is an important one. As more women take on leadership roles and add their perspectives to the conversation, the more well-rounded our country and world will become.
Here are some great books that tell the stories of women in roles of leadership in several different fields in Canada and throughout the world:
Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond by Lilly Ledbetter
In 1979, Lilly Ledbetter got her dream job at the Goodyear tire factory — she was one of the first women hired at the management level. When, nineteen years later, Lilly received an anonymous note revealing that she was making thousands less per year than the men in her position she began a long fight for equal pay. And fight Lilly did, becoming the namesake of President Barack Obama’s first official piece of legislation. Today, she is a tireless advocate for change, traveling the country to urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights.
King Peggy:An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
King Peggy chronicles the astonishing journey of an American secretary who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 souls on Ghana’s central coast. Peggy’s first two years as king of Otuam unfold in a way that is stranger than fiction. In the end, a deeply traditional African town has been uplifted by the ambitions of its headstrong, decidedly modern female king.
A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two by Caroline Moorehead
On January 24, 1943, 230 women were placed in four cattle trucks on a train in Compiegne, in northeastern France, and the doors bolted shut for the journey to Auschwitz. They were members of the French Resistance, ranging in age from teenagers to the elderly, women who before the war had been doctors, farmers’ wives, secretaries, biochemists, schoolgirls. With immense courage they had taken up arms against a brutal occupying force.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.
Allah, Liberty & Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom by Irshad Manji
The New York Times bestselling author to whom Oprah gave her first ever Chutzpah Award, Irshad Manji has written a book that equips all of us to develop moral courage. Allah, Liberty & Love is ultimately a book about how to become a gutsy global citizen working for both personal and world peace. Manji has faith not just in Allah, but also in her fellow human beings.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there. Through these stories, they help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty. Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.
For more information on events in your area and how to participate in international women’s day go to the website: www.internationalwomensday.com. But before you go, tell us: Who are your favourite strong women?