Bologna: PublisHer — the movement started by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi to level the publishing playing field and remove career barriers obstructing women — has switched up a gear by building its first-ever stand at a major international book fair.
Sheikha Bodour started PublisHer in 2019 by hosting networking events on the margins of book fairs, and it has grown steadily in stature and influence despite two years of virtual-only activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year the founder and CEO of Kalimat Group has vowed to level up her initiative, starting with a large stand at Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), made possible with the support of fair director, Elena Pasoli, who sits on the PublisHer Advisory Board.
The PublisHer stand (Hall 29, B36-C45) has been designed as a forum for debates and speeches, dealmaking, meetings, and an International Women’s Day networking breakfast, which took place Wednesday morning in partnership with Canadian publisher, Kids Can Press.
Stand visitors are also invited to answer a digital questionnaire. The data gathered will inform future PublisHer initiatives, which may include updating the 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Diagnostic Toolkit, developing mentorship programmes, and setting up other industry events.
Opening the International Women’s Day breakfast, Bodour asserted that publishers have a duty to proactively include women’s voices in their business practices and output.
“Women (…) still face many obstacles, from gender bias and discrimination to a lack of representation in leadership positions,” she said.
‘That’s why as publishers we have a responsibility to create platforms and opportunities to amplify women’s voices, to make them heard and, most importantly, to make them understood,” she said.
To join the PublisHer community of publishers, businesses, donors, and nonprofits, and to support the work to bring gender equity to world publishing can visit https://womeninpublishing.org/supporters/.