This year marks 110 years since International Women’s Day was first introduced by the Socialist Party of America.

A lot has changed in that time. And, while there remains a long road ahead to true and global equality, considerable strides have been made in the right direction for women and (more often than not) by women. 

To this day, the event is as important as ever in the movement for women’s rights. Things still need to change. Just yesterday, the UK heard female Conservative MPs read their accounts of the sexist abuse that they’ve received online – driving home the reality that the IWD campaign is as crucial today as it was at the turn of the 20th Century.

As it returns this year with the theme of #BalanceforBetter – with the central message that a balanced, equal world is a better world – we’re taking the opportunity to learn through the words of inspiring female thinkers, charting three new books that celebrate some seriously cool women.

Judy Chicago: A Reckoning 
Pioneer and visionary of the art world, Judy Chicago is an American feminist artist, whose multi-media works span sculptures, paintings and installations – and incorporate a variety of skills from needlework to welding and pyrotechnics. Her gargantuan 48-foot installation, The Dinner Party – featuring 39 place settings, arranged for mythical and historical women – first put her on the map as an envelope-pushing feminist artist back in the late 1970s. 

Now, in a new book by Alex Gartenfeld and Stephanie Seidel, Judy’s oeuvre is traced and celebrated – from her emergence on the Los Angeles art scene in the 1960s to her seminal pieces (like The Dinner Party) that helped to bridge the gap between feminism and art in the 1970s, through to her later work in the 1990s. It's a timely, pertinent and important view of the world and society via the female gaze.

Gentleman Jack
A wealthy 19th Century Yorkshire heiress, intrepid world traveller, mountaineer, entrepreneur and diarist (A.K.A. the then-equivalent of our modern ‘multi-hyphenate’), Anne Lister is also widely regarded to be the first lesbian and "gender-nonconforming entrepreneur" – as she has since been commemorated – in the public eye. Choosing to eschew traditional marriage, don all black, and speak openly about her lack of interest in men, Anne was a groundbreaking figure for her time, and her legacy as an LGBTQ+ icon lives on to this day.

Throughout her life, Anne recounted her relationships, erotic confessions and candid letters in her diaries – which lay hidden for many years before scholars eventually cracked their codes – and now, Angela Steidele, a writer on LGBTQ+ individuals’ lives in the 18th and 19th Centuries, brings her fresh perspective to the unique life of ‘Gentleman Jack’ (Lister’s nickname).

Feminism for the 99%
A timely manifesto from the three organisers of the International Women’s Strike, Feminism for the 99% takes its inspiration from the new wave of feminist militancy to argue that feminism must be anti-capitalist, eco-socialist and anti-racist: That it must start and rise from the ground up.

As authors Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya and Nancy Fraser write, the manifesto is a: "Restless anti-capitalist feminism – one that can never be satisfied with equivalences until we have equality, never satisfied with legal rights until we have justice, and never satisfied with democracy until individual freedom is calibrated on the basis of freedom for all.” A forthright and poignant yet digestible read of 96 pages, it's a battle cry that’s designed to be returned to, time and time again. 

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