• Monday, July 15, 2024

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi Calls for Greater Gender equality and Diversity in the Publishing Industry

It amazes me that we still need to argue for and fight for balance within the publishing industry and to give more female publishers a chance to take the lead and make a difference.
on Mar 09, 2023
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi Calls for Greater Gender equality and Diversity

In her keynote speech at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said that women are underrepresented in the publishing sector.

Sheikha Bodour said that not enough is being done to address a gender imbalance within the sector in a speech given on Tuesday as part of an event by PublisHer, a group she created to push for more equality and diversity within the business.

In the days leading up to Wednesday's International Women's Day, she emphasised the need to continue applying pressure for more justice and diversity.

It amazes me that we still need to argue for and fight for balance within the publishing industry and to give more female publishers a chance to take the lead and make a difference. Unfortunately, some outdated and persistent challenges result from a particular mindset and obsolete practices.

According to Sheikha Bodour, the publishing sector requires a concentrated effort to align itself with "the mainstream".

This entails the establishment and support of further initiatives, including professional growth and networking opportunities, as well as recent announcements of awards for women's nonfiction writing from The Women's Prize Trust in the UK.

"Female publishers have always been playing the wrong instrument, and while giving it our all, it's not enough, especially when we're not on an equitable playing field," she remarked.

"Therefore, we must keep playing, but equally important, we must keep attempting to alter the instruments and requesting the ideal circumstances and atmosphere to develop and thrive."

In addition to a two-day conference with publishers worldwide, PublishHer celebrated International Women's Day at the book market by hosting an exhibition of worldwide children's literature works by female authors.

Italian publishers acknowledged that traditionally, women were underrepresented in the local industry when they spoke during a session examining the "status quo" within the business.

Editorial director of Salani Mariagrazia Mazzitelli stated, "There was a recent event in Milan discussing women in publishing in the 20th century, and we saw how they only had a small part.

"For instance, my mother-in-law was an excellent editor, but after having children, she chose to work from home.

"We found it very difficult to build a history of female Italians in publishing because of some of these circumstances."

When it comes to how women are portrayed in stories and drawings, says Monica Martinelli, founder of Settenove Edizioni, a publisher of picture books addressing inequality and gender violence, a drastic shift is required.

"Ultimately, publishing reflects societal trends.

According to her, one of the main issues is that women are solely portrayed via behaviours and ideals that are assumed to belong to them in children's books and other forms of children's education.

Women are frequently given the caretaker position in these novels, or, for instance, drawings that show her grinning while she multitasks at home are examples of this.

"Not all women are pleased when they are doing so many different tasks at once because they are frequently in situations where they had no option but to do so," she continued.

"We should depict that women might experience fatigue, bad feelings, and the feeling that life can occasionally be a struggle."

According to Beatrice Masini, editorial director of the Italian publishing firm Bompiani, finding that balance is no simple task.

She adds that the idea of an "issues book," in which the authors determine what concerns to address in the book before developing the tale, "is something I find a bit difficult.

"It quickly stops being genuine and makes the tale more powerful; such difficulties ought to naturally arise."

Martinelli contends that encouraging more authors and artists to contribute their skills to other creative forms is another approach to producing more realistic stories.

It will enable children to face a different world, she claims. By thinking outside the box, students will gain fresh perspectives that they may use to communicate their thoughts, visions, and personal styles.

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