World's foremost network for female publishers ends four days in Bologna that put women front and centre of a global industry still predominantly shaped by men
PublisHer—the movement started by Bodour Al Qasimi to topple career barriers faced by women in publishing—has grown its supporter base, gathered new industry data, and reached more women than ever after occupying its first book industry stand, at Bologna Children's Book Fair (BCBF).
Throughout the four-days fair, the PublisHer site became a bustling hub for female publishers and the centre of discussions around diversity and inclusion. Events included networking encounters, business meetings, and public discussions on pressing issues, from changing the status quo in children's publishing, to women helping women in the industry, and the transformative power of mentorship.
During one discussion PublisHer founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, Bodour Al Qasimi, told the audience of international professionals that despite modest progress, real and lasting gender inclusivity in publishing won't be easy.
‘Our work isn't done yet—we're not done balancing the publishing industry and the literary world,' she said. ‘There are some persistent challenges that stem from mindsets and outdated practices. We still have to make the case and fight for balancing the publishing industry, to give more female publishers the chance to lead and make a difference.'
Guest speakers included Elena Pasoli, director of Bologna Children′s Book Fair; Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Books UK; Karine Pansa and Gvantsa Jobava, president and vice-president of the International Publishers Association; Lisa Lyons-Johnston, president and publisher at Canada's leading children's book publisher, Kids Can Press; and Emma House, owner of Oreham Group.
Stand visitors also filled a digital questionnaire, providing data that PublisHer will be able to draw on when planning future initiatives and activities. Scores of people also subscribed to the PublisHer newsletter, followed on Facebook and Twitter, and joined the professional PublisHer LinkedIn page.
International Women's Day networking breakfast
On International Women's Day (8 March), PublisHer partnered with Canadian publishing house Kids Can Press to host a networking breakfast, which was attended by dozens of female publishing leaders.
In her opening remarks Bodour said: ‘International Women's Day shouldn't just be a day. Every day should be an opportunity to support and celebrate the experiences and successes of female leadership. The publishing community has a big role to play in making every day count for women, in making every story heard, understood, and valued.'
The PublisHer stand also co-exhibited 115 international books, curated by Accademia Drosselmeier / Cooperativa Giannino Stoppani, in celebration of women's achievements.