200 Women was the ultimate badass way to kick-off my reading of Nonfiction November.
Gloria Steinem once said, ‘You can’t empower women without listening to their stories.’ We agree.
Interviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Interviewees include:
· Jane Goodall, conservation and animal welfare activist
· Margaret Atwood, author and winner of The Booker Prize
· Roxane Gay, author and feminist
· Alicia Garza, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter
· Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund
· Dolores Huerta, labor activist, community organizer, and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association
· Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and Macarthur Foundation fellow
Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with?
With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength-inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality.
I’ve been craving for a new feminist collection to release out into the world, ever since i finished Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Upon seeing the above clip, I went into this expecting the perfect companion and follow-up to Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women. Though we have the same style of clean-cut portraits, 200 Women narrows down to having the same five-question structure apply to everyone, rather than a fitted question to each interviewee.
At first I was really welcoming of the unwavering question format presented, thinking how I didn’t want the book to feel like a Wikipedia-esque entry of each woman. But I grew tired overtime and wished they wouldn’t have stuck to it with every single interviewee. Unsurprisingly, having 200 women answer the same five questions, page after page, meant answers were repeated till the words lost all meaning to the reader. So I do wish they would’ve mixed it up a bit overtime to keep us on our toes.
But that’s my only minor inconvenience with the work; otherwise, reading this collection was a welcome reminder that all hope isn’t lost in today’s world with all the injustices that are engulfing us. It’s truly rewarding to know that there are these utterly incredible women out there in the world, fighting for what’s right and deserving. The bright light at the end of a hauntingly dark tunnel.
From talks of being a conscious consumer to the effect tiny gestures of kindness can have, the women in this diverse collection were able to shine a light on much-needed conversation starters. Also, getting introduced and familiarized with unknown and well-known faces, who all had something enlightening to add to the table on empowering girls and women, was as exciting as always.
Some of my personal highlights from the collection include:
#1 Inna Modja:
#2 Eva McGauley:
“… because I want to give more in life than I’ve taken.”
#3 Gabourey Sidibe:
#4 Sabila Khatun:
I can’t stop thinking about Khatun’s life story and her children’s support system.
#5 Yassmin Abdel-Magied:Her take on the question What brings you happiness? and answering with faith, spirituality and religion was fascinating:
I wonder if we sometimes conflate happiness with hedonism. Is doing something that makes you happy in a single moment – for the pure pleasure of it – actual happiness, or is it filling a hole that we don’t even realise we have?
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.