Waterstones leads trade's celebration of International Women's Day

Waterstones leads trade's celebration of International Women's Day

Publishers and retailers are set to celebrate International Women's Day on Thursday (8th March) with a host of activities including events celebrating feminist texts, homepage take-overs and a pop-up shop.

Waterstones is dedicating its homepage solely to female writers on Thursday to celebrate women's literary achievements. The retailer is planning to remove all titles, events and blog pieces by male authors from the homepage for the day and instead "prominently showcase a wider selection of the excellent writing available by women".

Catriona Morrison, commercial manager Waterstones, said that the past year had been a significant one for women across the world, following the "Time’s Up" and #MeToo movements spawned from the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, which has provided the foundations for many women to reflect on how their gender impacts upon their lives.

Morrison said: "This month-long campaign, bridging the 100 year anniversary of the first British women’s right to vote in February and International Women’s Day this month, has allowed us the opportunity to reflect on all the ways women find knowledge, power, confidence, comfort and belonging through books. I hope it plays a small part in supporting women’s voices and legitimising women’s experiences via the written word.”

On the retailer's website, a banner will link to an International Women’s Day page, featuring one hundred books by women as part of Waterstones’ 100 books for 100 years campaign that started with the centenary of the first women’s right to vote in Britain. The titles are selected to reflect broad experiences and the cultural impact of, and on, women in everyday life. The campaign is further supported by a series of blog articles ranging from recommended reading on Women's Suffrage to key lessons from 10 influential works of non-fiction written by women.

Waterstones will also be celebrating the day in its stores. In its Tottenham Court Road branch in London, the retailer is hosting an event called Forgotten Women: The Leaders with author of the forthcoming Forgotten Women series and UK Broadly editor, Zing Tsjeng. Tsjeng will be in conversation with trans activist and author, Charlie Craggs and founder of Women Who and author, Otegha Uwagba.

Over at Waterstones Gower Street in London, the retailer will be hosting an International Women's Day Story Time, which will feature a selection of stories with strong female characters including Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2  by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books). Meanwhile, Waterstones Canterbury will be welcoming an array of poets to read from Project Boast by Rachel Bentham and Alyson Hallett (Triarchy Press), an anthology that celebrates women who are "too big for their boots", set to be published on International Women's Day.

Similarly, Creative writing centre Retreat West is issuing a call for stories to honour 100 years of women’s suffrage for a new anthology which will be edited by Rose McGinty. 

HarperCollins imprint 4th Estate will be celebrating its female authors and women’s writing as a whole throughout the entire month of March. The publisher will be posting pieces to its website every day of the month this March, including exclusive pieces from its authors, 4th Estate personal picks from everyone in the team, book recommendations and competitions to win books.

Women's press Virago is running month-long campaign inspired by the official International Women’s Day hashtag; #PressForProgress. The publisher is encouraging readers to celebrate women writers with 31 daily themes, tied together with the hashtag #ViragoPressForProgress.

Penguin Random House's pop-up bookshop, which is stocked solely with titles by female writers, is running this week until 9th March to celebrate International Women's Day. It will be selling titles from authors including Malorie Blackman, Iris Murdoch, Caitlin Moran, Malala Yousafzai, Zadie Smith and Margaret Atwood. 

The shop will host an event with podcast host Melissa Hemsley, Rukmini Iyer, former lawyer and author of The Roasting Tin and WEconomy author and chair of Virgin Unite Holly Branson, on 7th March. A podcast of the event will be released the following day.


London-based radical publisher Pluto Press, which will be shutting its office on 8th March to mark the ​International ​Women's Strike taking place on International Women's Day, is discounting sales of Social Reproduction Theory, which has contributions from of the Women's Strike organisers. It will be sold at the special price of £10 on the press' website until Friday.

Fellow radical publisher Zed Books is to offer 50% Why Women Will Save the Planet, a title which brings together 28 "inspiring and influential" women including pioneering city mayors, key voices in the environmental and feminist movements, and academics.

Irish literary festival Mountains to Sea will be celebrating the day with four events on Sunday 11th March. Highlights include a discussion on the absence of women's voices in economic debate, commentary and policy making, chaired by Kathy Sheridan with Dawn Foster and Frances Weetman. The festival will also be celebrating Northern Ireland's Women Writers with Susan McKay, Medbh McGuckian, Elaine Gaston, Margaret Ward and singer Hannah Peel, and will be screening "Jaha's Promise" followed by a public interview with Maggie OKane on her life as a reporter from the frontline.  

Vintage will be sending an influencer mailing to key feminists across the arts and media, including a copy of Freedom by Margaret Atwood (publishing in the Vintage Minis series in April), the Vintage Feminism series (abridged and extracted editions of The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, and a badge with a quote from The Handmaid’s Tale).


The publisher will also be celebrating across its social media channels, too, with reading lists of key feminist texts and lesser-known classics by women from the Vintage catalogue, a podcast about the graphic novel Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, and Chatto & Windus editor Charlotte Humphery talking about brilliant books by women on the Vintage YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, a host of publishers will be releasing specially themed titles on the day. Ebury Press will be publishing Pénélope Bagieu's latest graphic novel, Brazen in which Bagieu illustrates surprising and lesser-known portraits of courageous women rejecting cultural norms through the ages and from all over the world.

Also being published on the day is Egmont's "feminist firecracker", The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven, Headline's SHE, A Celebration of 100 Renegade Women by Harriet Hall, #MeToo, a new collection of poems born out of the #MeToo campaign from indie publisher Fairacre Press, Quadrille's The Pen is Mightier Than the Penis, a feminist quote book celebrating female writers through the centuries, from Sappho to Margaret Atwood, and Hodder's The Wonder Down Under: A User's Guide to the Vagina which is already an "international phenomenon" with 32 foreign rights deals and counting, according to the publisher.

Pan Macmillan will be publishing Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson, a "gripping" memoir about abuse and coercive control. The author will be appearing at Women of the World (WOW), Southbank Centre, on 9th March to talk about female shame and the role it plays in abuse cycles.

Profile Books is planning a live readathon of Mary Beard’s Women & Power on Instagram Live (@profile.books).

Libraries are also planning to express their solidarity with women on Thursday. In Nottingham, Eastwood Library will have a dedicated display of books and Lancashire Libraries will be launching Venus Voices, a programme to support the national Vote 100 campaign and explore how women in 2018 can look back to the suffragettes for inspiration and continue to discuss women's issues in the spirit of 1918.