By Sylv T

A mother’s nurturing, a wife’s love, a sister’s companionship, a grandmother’s wisdom, an aunt’s advice, a mentor’s guidance, a friend’s sass—these are just a few reasons behind the special day dedicated to celebrating half of the world’s population.

In honour of International Women’s Day, here are five books to dive into, to help us better understand, appreciate and support women of all kinds. 

1. In The Movies: Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Following the release of its newest movie adaptation before Christmas, there has been a global renaissance of this timeless classic. Its story follows the lives of four sisters who each have very different personalities. One of them, Jo, brings much laughter to the mix by daringly exhibiting harmless but “unladylike” behaviour to the absolute horror of her community. 

Despite being set during the American Civil War, its relevance remains, depicting conflicting inner struggles and the reality of the great losses we all face. It ultimately reminds us of the preciousness of family, sisterhood and love.

2. Written By A Sister: Becoming – Michelle Obama

Despite achieving what many would consider the pinnacle of success, this former First Lady of the United States invites us into her world like a regular human being. Michelle Obama makes us feel right at home with her intimate and welcoming introduction, relatable stories and sense of humour. As an African American woman, the biases, prejudice and discrimination she faced (and still faces) didn’t stop her.

From surviving a tough childhood, balancing the demands of being a working mother, taking on public responsibility as the first African American First Lady, and continuing to speak up for women and girls worldwide, she is a true inspiration. 

Although the “Former First Lady” title may give the impression of someone far removed from the everyday woman, Michelle’s thought-provoking questions and prompts feel like wisdom from an older sister (in the best way), encouraging us to keep growing, keep evolving, and keep becoming.

3. For The Working Professional: Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg

To newcomers and experienced counterparts alike, the working world can be a bit of a foggy field to navigate. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and one of Fortune Magazine’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Business’, shares invaluable (and humorous) insight from her own and others’ journeys. Sheryl cuts through ambiguity by showing women how to implement small changes that can enable us to reach our fullest leadership potential. 

From speaking up for the under-represented to stepping forward and requesting professional progression, Sheryl challenges us to change our focus from what we can’t do to what we can.

4. Choosing Goodness: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

What does a young girl do when the country she once relied on and felt safe in decides to torture and then systematically wipe out her entire race? I cannot even imagine the terror Anne must have felt when the Nazis began on the path towards the Holocaust, forcing her entire family to hideaway in a cramped attic. For more than two years, she carried the weight of unthinkable deprivation and the constant fear of being discovered. 

Yet, despite horrific circumstances, her diary during that period highlights her decision always to choose goodness, a persevering innocence, enduring humanity and sprinkle of humour. “How wonderful it is, that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”, she inspiringly shared. How blessed we are, that she did exactly that through her sadly too short life.

5. Learning From Younger Generations: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai

At the tender age of 11, Malala chose to brave the anger of the ruling Taliban extremists in Pakistan by peacefully advocating for her and her friends’ rights to education, after education was abruptly denied. Her influence by the age of 15 was perceived by extremists as such a threat that they put a bullet to her head

Against seemingly undefeatable odds, she survived, and with it the hope of education for every girl. With even greater courage, Malala continues her mission to this day. Her impact is a striking reminder that our individual efforts are never too insignificant to make a difference. As the Starfish story goes, even if one action doesn’t make a difference to the whole world, it could make a whole world of difference to someone.

These books hold only five stories of incredible women who have helped to help shape our world. This International Women’s Day, let yourself be personally impacted by their inspiring lives. Dive in, get inspired and start living your legacy.