Library Services


Celebrating International Women’s Day 2023

8 March 2023

The Library Liberating the Collections Group have compiled a book list of your suggestions to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March) and Women’s History Month (March).

A student reads a book in front of bookshelves in the Donaldson Reading Room

This year's theme for International Women’s Day is Embrace Equity, recognising that equal opportunities aren't enough, and that equal isn't always fair.

  • Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. 
  • Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. 

Alongside this theme, we also welcomed recommendations for books written by, for and about women, celebrating their achievements, and challenging inequities and inequalities in the UK and around the world.

Your recommended titles

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez

Nominated twice

“This is a highly necessary book that exposes how the world is designed around men and men's bodies, often at a high cost to women - it explores issues such as urban design, how the fact women have different heart attack symptoms to men is not factored into health care, how the design of cars and PPE disadvantages women and many more.”

Jennifer Milligan

“The fact that women are missing from a lot of academic and scientific datasets that a lot of modern science and medicine are built upon is a fact that is not widely recognised, and is frankly terrifying.”

A Thousand Miles up the Nile by Amelia Edwards

Nominated twice

“The original version of this book was written by one of most important women associated with UCL in the late 19th century, author-journalist-feminist Amelia B. Edwards. This new reprint (with an introduction by Anna Garnett, Curator of the Petrie Museum, and Carl Graves, Director of the Egypt Exploration Society) celebrates Amelia's pioneering work, while also setting it in the context of increasing British political involvement and tensions in late 19th century Egypt”.

“Egyptian antiquities and a financial sum to UCL resulted in the creation of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian & Sudanese Archaeology. Following a tour of Egypt in the winter of 1873-74 she became aware of increasing threats to Egypt's ancient monuments from tourism and modern development. She set out to hinder these through public awareness and scientific endeavour, becoming an advocate for research and preservation of them. As a result in 1882, she co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society) with Reginald Stuart Poole. Her book 'A Thousand Miles up the Nile' (1877) recounts her description of her Nile voyage”.

We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is always a powerful advocate for women and girls, especially her fellow African women and girls. She puts her feminism in the context of Nigerian Society”.

Jennifer Milligan

Femina : a new history of the Middle Ages, through the women written out of it by Janina Ramirez

“I really enjoyed this accessible history of medieval women. It is interesting to see how their stories have been forgotten, misrepresented or appropriated in the intervening centuries. Janina Ramirez shows us that medieval women were active in all areas of society and far more diverse than previously presented”.

Sarah Burn

Queens : 3,000 years of the most powerful women in history by Victoria Crossman 

“This beautifully illustrated book celebrates ‘strong, brave women across the centuries and around the world’. A good introduction to world history, especially but not just for kids”.

Man-made : why so few women are in positions of power by Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds 

“The authors interviewed over a hundred successful women to discover what it takes for a woman to get to the top”.

Surviving sexism in academia : strategies for feminist leadership edited by Kirsti Cole and Holly Hassel 

“It’s absolutely vital that universities like UCL become more equitable organisations. This book argues that for women to enter into leadership positions, then sexism in all its forms must be acknowledged, attended to, and actively addressed”.

Against white feminism : notes on disruption by Rafia Zakaria

“An inspiring call for a reconstruction of a more inclusive feminism that centres women of colour. Urgent reading for all feminists.”

Building gender equity in the academy: institutional strategies for change by Sandra Laursen and Ann E. Austin 

“Did you know women filled 47% of all US jobs in 2015, but held only 24% of STEM jobs. This is an evidence-based, action-oriented response to the persistent, everyday inequity of academic workplaces which are sadly still the norm”.

Zami: a new spelling of my name by Audre Lorde

“A classic. Lorde’s first and only novel. A stunning combination of myth, history, and biography detailing her childhood in New York City, and navigating life as a black lesbian in 1950s America”.

Difficult daughters by Manju Kapur

“The story of a young woman torn between the desire for education and the lure of illicit love”.

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

“A panoramic novel centring on a headstrong headmistress who has moved back to a semi-fictionalised town in South Yorkshire in the 1930s. It was published shortlu after Holtby’s untimely death. Holtby was closed friends with Vera Brittain and two lived together for a while in Doughty Street.”

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

“Published in Arabic in 1977, this novel is based on Saadawi’s meeting with a female prisoner in Qanatir Prison. An unforgettable and unputdownable book”.

Love and Justice by Laetitia Ky

“Laetitia Ky is an amazing artist from the Ivory Coast who creates hair sculptures that address African Identity and issues women and girls face around the world especially Africa.”

Jennifer Milligan

Hags by Victoria Smith

“There have always been significant issues with the way older women and both treated within society and portrayed. Older women have become particular targets for misogynistic abuse and silencing in the last few years and this book addresses this.”

Additional thanks to Helen Biggs and Beverley Hinton for sharing their book lists.


Have you read them all? What are we missing? Join us on Twitter or Instagram and share your own recommendations.

We will buy any titles that we don't already own from the list above and will make these available shortly.

UCL Library Liberating the Collections Group

Photo of Steps to Progress exhibit in UCL Main Library

This activity was organised through the Library Liberating the Collections Group. The purpose of this group is to identify and oversee progress with a strategic set of actions intended to enrich the collections, increasing visibility of, and access to, works by authors who have been marginalised (and thus less heard) because of factors such as race, sexuality, gender and disability.

Celebrating International Women’s Day at UCL 

Find out more about the different events taking place this year at UCL to celebrate International Women’s Day.