Today is International Day of the Girl, a day designed to raise awareness about gender inequality and the barriers girls come up against, from birth to adulthood. In recognition, here are a few Seren writers whose books highlight the challenges girls and women face.
Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Rhian Elizabeth
‘My first word was clock only it came out as cock. That was when my mother knew I was trouble.’
Rhian Elizabeth’s introduces us to Hannah King, a self-assured young girl brought up in the Rhondda Valley within a community that offers little prospect for her future. Situated in turbulent surroundings, in conflict with family and community, Hannah is pulled towards a dark instability. Both comic and tragic, this is a gripping portrayal of girlhood in Wales.
The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, Katrina Naomi
In Katrina Naomi’s collection we see a girl in fear of her domineering step-father whose ‘flashing anger’ (‘Portrait of my Step-father as a Xmas Tree’) threatens to bubble up at every turn. We see the trials a woman can face: sexual assault, aggression, misuse. This is an emotive collection that refuses to shy away from depictions of violence and abuse, yet remains resolutely uplifting.
Folk Music, Sheenagh Pugh
Set in a country lying somewhere between Wales and central Asia, in a time which might be the middle ages or the near-present, Folk Music is a work of fiction that draws parallels with the oppressive, patriarchal regimes still existing today. Central to the story is the convention that, on marriage, a woman does not speak to anyone, except in private to her husband, until the birth of her first child. Pugh explores the possibility for both oppression and empowerment in this subtly-entwined narrative, which asks whether the abandonment of tradition is a positive thing, or may leave us only with rootlessness and dislocation.
Fighting Pretty, Louise Walsh
Walsh peers into the macho world of boxing with tenderness and telling humour. Reeling from divorce, jobless and living back home with her embittered father, Lizzie throws everything she has into training to be a boxer. Despite battles with her weight and other demons, Lizzie fights on, determined someday box for Wales, and wear the coveted red vest. This story breaks down the barriers separating men and women in sport, just as the Olympics have begun to give women better representation (in 2012, for the first time, 10 men’s Boxing events at the London Olympics were joined by three women’s events).
The Tip of my Tongue, Trezza Azzopardi
This re-telling of the Mabinogion story Geraint and Enid transforms a medieval heroine who won’t be silenced into a brace 1970’s girl from downtown Splott in Cardiff, who, no matter how difficult the circumstances, always seems to get the last word.
The original Enid from Celtic mythology defends her misguided husband by warning him of approaching villains, even though he has forbidden her to speak. Trezza Azzopardi’s young Enid is also unlikely to respect a gagging order.
This list features just a few of the many talented Seren women writers. Discover them all on our website.
Want to get involved with International Day of the Girl? Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #DayoftheGirl on Twitter.