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2014: A Summary

2014 has been an exciting year on Stand Strong Girls, with new campaigns and victories. In this post I will do my best to summarise some of the topics that have appeared here this year.


One of the issues I mentioned this year was the debate of single-sex education versus co-education. Drawing on my own experience in both types of schools, I tried to reason out the pros and cons from both points of view. While I still remain firmly in support of co-educational schools, I tried to appreciate the advantages of single-sex education as well.

I also wrote about women’s universities. Their numbers are growing in developing countries, where they are often women’s only option for higher education. However, in western countries their numbers have decreased significantly in recent years. I am of the opinion that women-only universities are just a short-term solution to the problem of women still being barred from many universities.


This year was Read Women 2014, a campaign started by writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh that encouraged people to read more books written by women. At the moment, I’m doing quite well, reading Code Name Pauline. It is about the experiences of Pearl Witherington Cornioley, an SOE agent during WWII. The book was edited by Kathryn J. Atwood. Earlier in the year I read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a novel based on SOE agents’ experiences.

Let Books Be Books campaign also kicked off this year. The campaign aims to put an end to the gender specific branding of books. Already several publishers and booksellers have got on board, promising to stop producing or selling gender specific books.

                               Adventurous Women

The Adventurous Women series began this year, a series of post about women who achieved, created or just did something different.  I have already written about the pilot Amelia Earhart, the nurse Mary Seacole and Sophie Germain, who was a mathematician. I also wrote about Katharine Wright, who helped to develop the first aircraft and Nadezhda Durova who served in the Russian cavalry. If you know of a woman you think deserves a mention, please let me know.


I’ve talked quite a bit this year about how children’s toys have changed from neutral and non-gendered to the pink and blue gender-specific toys that we know today. One example is Lego, which seems to think that girls can only build with pink blocks. However, this year Lego produced the Research Institute, featuring three female scientists.We saw it being put to good use by Donna Yates, who tweeted pictures of Lego scenes using the new set on @LegoAcademics.

                                  Malala Yousafzia

As an education activist, Yousafzia has made the news quite a few times in 2014. I read her book earlier this year, I am Malala, co-authored by Christina Lamb. Yousafzia also won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, along with Kailash Satyarthi, to recognise their struggle for children’s right to education.


I have written about campaigns such as HeForShe, Man Up and White Ribbon this year. One thing these campaigns have in common is that they are looking at the role men have to play in order to build an equal world. I think this approach is hugely important because it shows that inequality is not just women’s problem and that it is up to everyone to resolve it.

These are not all of the topics that I blogged about in 2014 but I think I have covered all of the bigger ones. I’ll be back in 2015. Happy New Year!


Read Women 2014

Since World Book Day is coming up (6th March) I thought I’d do a post about Read Women 2014. Read Women is a campaign set up by writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh as a challenge for 2014. The aim of the campaign is to get people to read more books written by women.

Walsh decided to start the campaign after hearing about the challenges of  Jonathan Gibbs and Matthew Jakubowski to read only books written by women for a certain period of time. Walsh also wanted to start the campaign after seeing the results of the 2013 VIDA Count. VIDA is the American organisation for women in the literary artsTheir annual count records how many reviews of books written by men and by women appear in a number of literary journals.

Walsh’s argument is that, despite the number of excellent books that are written by female authors worldwide, there are still more reviews of books written by men than by women in these literary journals. Walsh thinks that a good way of changing this is to make a special effort to read more books written by women or to challenge yourself to do it for a certain period of time.

I find that I have an almost exact balance of books by men and women. On one bookcase I have 89 by women and 88 by men. What about you, do you have more books by men or by women on your shelves? Will you challenge yourself to read more books by women this year? Please put up a comment if you know any good books or authors to try!

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