#LikeAWoman, a collaborative project from Penguin Publishers and Waterstones booksellers, is a retailer by day, selling fiction, non-fiction, and a range of children’s literature, but is an event space by night, hosting talks chaired by female authors.
Novels by classic female authors, including the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, are on sale alongside picture books written by Malala Yousafzai and comedy memoirs from Caitlin Moran.
Zainab Juma, creative manager at Penguin said: “This is a space that celebrates female voices.”
“We filled it with music by women and books by women. This is about creating a space that is a megaphone for women’s voices,” she told the Hackney Post.
#LikeAWoman is working with London charity Solace Women’s Aid to provide books for women and young children living in refuges across the capital.
“Anyone who comes in to #LikeAWoman is invited to buy a book and donate it back to Solace to go to one of their refuges,” Juma added.
Solace helps approximately 11,000 women and children who are victims of domestic abuse every year, and Juma believes that sharing stories by and about women can help with the recovery process.
“It’s really important for children – especially if they have been in those situations – to have some really positive ideas of what women can be. It gives them a chance to celebrate women.”
Are Women still marginalised in the Industry?
The project has faced criticism from some who have argued that women line the shelves of our book shops, but women still face being sidelined in the industry; female authors have won just 17 of 50 Man Booker Prizes and 14 of 114 Nobel Prizes for Literature.
“Prizes aren’t everything,” Juma said. “But they’re symptomatic of a bigger problem: women do an enormous amount of work, but god forbid we talk about it.”
As well as this week’s International Women’s Day, #LikeAWoman is set against the backdrop of the Suffragette centenary, and the film industry being turned upside down by the #MeToo movement.
“Both of those movements were about voices, about listening.
“Giving women the vote was about listening to their needs, and the #MeToo movement is about listening to women’s needs as well. This is just another space for those voices to be heard,” said Juma.
#LikeAWoman is open from at 1 – 3 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3DT until Friday 9 March.