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March 23, 2023

HU Women’s History Month Recommendations

This Women’s History Month, HU celebrates the stories, lives, and contributions of women. We asked our staff for their recommendations to commemorate this month. Here are the books, podcasts, and TV shows – created by or featuring women – that they chose to share.

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, by Valarie Kaur (2020)

“This book is both a deeply personal memoir and a galvanizing how-to guide to social change. I was transfixed and moved by Valarie Kaur’s story and her vision for our collective future.”

-Naomi McQuaid, Director, People


Derry Girls (TV Show)

“It’s a really heart warming comedy that follows the troubles in Northern Ireland through the eyes of four teenage girls.”

-Zoë Newcomb, Manager, Peacebuilding


Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall (2014)

“The journalist, editor, and social reformer Margaret Fuller (who is also the namesake of our partner The Fuller Project) led an extraordinary life in a time when the doors for women were often closed. Megan Marshall’s excellent biography “Margaret Fuller: A New American Life” gives us a view into her world and legacy.”

-Liz Baker, Senior Director, Public Engagement


Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, by Tricia Hersey (2022)

“Tricia Hersey created the Nap Ministry on social media as a place to connect to the liberating power of rest and daydreaming for healing justice and social transformation, specifically for Black people and centering Black women. The book pushes back against the dominant, capitalist, white supremacist, ableist norms of “grind culture” and offers tools and perspectives for how to center a more liberatory practice that focuses on rest for one’s own actualization and for resourcing ourselves for movement work and social change.”

-Corie Walsh, Portfolio Manager, Peacebuilding


No Roses from My Mouth: Poems from Prison, by Stella Nyanzi (2020)

“Stella Nyanzi is an esteemed academic, master of spectacle, and an instigator for social justice whose resilience is so incredibly inspiring to me. This book of poetry was written during her incarceration in the Luzira Women’s Prison in Uganda—charged with insulting President Museveni. Her style and the way she leverages vulgarity and the obscene to satirize power exhibits a bravery that is truly unparalleled. That she could muster the courage to pen such fire from a position of imprisonment I cannot fathom. We could all learn something from Nyanzi’s unrepentant gall in the pursuit of change.”

-Ryan Heman, Director, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking


Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems, by Fatema Mernissi (2002)

“There’s nothing quite as special as finding a sense of belonging and affirmation within the pages of a book. That is what this book did for me when I plucked it from my parent’s bookshelves in my late teens, marking my first foray into the work of Arab feminists. Mernissi’s ability to call out the hypocrisy of the West’s perceived superiority on gender issues, while not shying away from the treatment of women in the Middle East, resonated strongly with me as a young woman straddling both cultures. I now have a few bookshelves of my own dedicated to works by female Arab authors and hope others will find inspiration in them.”

-Mariam Bhacker, Senior Manager, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking


Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell (2020)

“During this month celebrating Women’s History, I highly recommend this story by a brilliant female author (and mother), transforming a traditionally male story (Hamlet) into a profound exploration of a mother’s loss, and a father’s artistic metamorphosis. The ending absolutely took my breath away, as one of the most profound expressions — and transformations — of beauty and grief I have ever read. In addition to being a transcendent reading experience, the book feels relevant to my work as a peacebuilder in many ways. Among them: it is the grief of mothers that often serves as a driving force for change in situations of conflict — yet the grief of fathers crosses generations, as well, and we are gaining a stronger understanding of how gendered experiences of grief and trauma affect intergenerational conflict. Also, the most powerful expressions of peace often come through art, and the transformative alchemy that art possesses, turning destructiveness into beauty, and emotion into form. The ways that Agnes and William metabolize their grief through art and through nature are not dissimilar to the ways that peacebuilders transform conflict, through what John Paul Lederach would call the “moral imagination.” To understand peace, one must understand loss, transcendence, and the way that the personal lives in the universal. This book is a shimmering example of all these things.”

-Melanie Greenberg, Managing Director, Peacebuilding


Finding Humanity (Podcast)

“Finding Humanity is a Webby Award-winning podcast that focuses on real-life stories of courage and purpose and tackles issues around rights, justice, and equity. Their last season focused on “How Women’s Excellence Shapes History”. I would especially recommend episode 48, which centers on women’s fight for human rights and features conversations with two women leaders who are making it a priority to support women, especially those fighting for gender equality in the global south. While we often use the phrase “women’s rights are human rights,” this podcast made me appreciate how much work there still needs to be done to make women’s rights a priority.”

-Srik Gopal, Managing Partner


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2015)

“One of my recent favorite books is Braiding Sweetgrass, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer who is an indigenous author & scientist (and mother! which she emphasizes in writing about her experience).”

-Zoë Newcomb, Manager, Peacebuilding


Women Talking, by Miriam Toews (2019)

“A multigenerational conversation between women who question everything they have been taught—demons and God, heaven and hell, damnation and forgiveness—as they attempt to shape their own futures in the wake of their brutal victimization. They meet in secret, are always running out of time, run into more problems than solutions, but in the end demonstrate the remarkable power of Women Talking.”

-Ayan Ahmed, Manager, Communications


Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, by Donna Hicks (2011)

“The way Hicks analyzes and focuses on dignity resonates with me because it encompasses elements of respect, belonging, accountability, understanding, fairness – all values and goals that I aspire to and try to embody in my communities, in my work at HU and for me personally as a parent and individual. As someone whose own diversity is not always seen or understood, I have felt that this book was putting its finger on something that brings us all closer together.”

-Philippe Sion, Managing Director, Forced Labor & Human Trafficking


How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2017)

“In “How We Get Free,” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor looks at the Combahee River Collective, a groundbreaking group of radical Black feminists from the 60s and 70s which, arguably, has one the most influential and effective organizing statements of social movements in the 20th century. Taylor, herself an activist and scholar, reflects on the work of the Combahee River Collective, its influence on modern activism and its role in the canon of Black, queer, feminist literature. It’s a very accessible and critical work, that also talks through the importance of a social movement that led to great change and is not well told in (white) mainstream history.”

-Corie Walsh, Portfolio Manager, Peacebuilding


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