5 Women Empowerment Books Our Team Is Reading During Quarantine

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

It seems the global pandemic has turned the world upside down. It has changed how we interact, how we work, and how we serve our communities. While the world tries to adapt to the “new normal” in personal and professional spaces, our team at Women Going Beyond has been working on shifting how our program is operating to ensure we reach the women we serve during the pandemic and beyond. Stay tuned for our updates here.

Most of our team has experienced different forms of quarantine or stay-at-home measures, and we’ve used reading as a window to travel with inspiring women without leaving our homes. These reads are keeping us motivated because well, you know, empowered women, empower women. The women empowerment books we are catching up on are:

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

As the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama quickly became one of the most admired women in the country. In her autobiography, she takes us with her from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her career as a lawyer, to her decisions at the White House. She gives an honest portrayal of what life was like in politics and gets candid about motherhood, marriage, and self-discovery. Michelle Obama teaches us the value of our story and how to own it. It’s almost impossible not to feel uplifted after reading her book.

Our favorite quote: “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

2. Educated by Tara Westover

In the United States, schooling is mandatory to at least the age of 16 in all states, but Tara Westover describes a different experience. Growing up in rural Idaho to a strict Mormon survivalist family, her father’s contempt for the government and public schools kept her home. Her mother’s momentum for homeschool had also dissipated when it became Tara’s turn, as she is the youngest of seven. Tara pens her account of her childhood, which includes abuse, horrifying accidents, and her journey to becoming “educated”. Despite her lack of family support and any formal schooling, Tara teaches herself and qualifies for entrance to a four-year university. She then goes on to Havard and Cambridge, ultimately earning her Ph.D. Her journey is not without struggles, but she shows us how unbelievable change is possible when you have drive and determination.

Our favorite quote: “Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

3. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, shares her story of how the Taliban took over her village in the Swat Valley of Pakistan and forced girls out of school. Speaking out for the right of all girls to receive an education, Malala refuses to let her voice be silenced. She ultimately becomes a target, and one morning on the way to school, she is shot in the head by the Taliban. Malala is authentic, courageous, and bold. She is a leading light in the fight for equal access to quality education. Following her example, we can all learn how to speak up for education and women’s rights.

Our favorite quote: “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”

4. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable foundation. Much of her philanthropic work is dedicated to women’s and girls’ rights which has led her to some of the most poverty-stricken areas around the world. Through her travels, she discovers that when you lift women up, you lift up humanity. Melinda’s book introduces us to inspiring women she has met along the way and demonstrates how empowered women rise up, bringing their communities with them. Melinda also presents us with the data on gender inequality issues and calls us into action for women and girls in our communities.

Our favorite quote: “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high-leverage investment you can make in human beings.”

5. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This tiny book packs a powerful message. Chimamanda offers a modified version of her Tedx Talk in 2012 where she discusses the concept of feminism. She reviews the stereotypes associated with the word feminist and offers a new definition. While giving insight through her personal experiences, Chimamanda encourages us to teach boys and girls the importance of gender equality and provokes us to have new conversations with respect to feminism.

Our favorite quote: “My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says,

yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”

These are the books that are currently inspiring us and hope they inspire you as well. Please feel free to comment with your recommendations below on which women empowerment messages we should read next.

Women Going Beyond is an NGO created with the goal to empower young women by teaching them English, computer and technology skills, and other business/entrepreneurship-related courses in the rural areas of South East Asia.

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