I once read a profile about Dr. Jane Goodall, the English primatologist whose groundbreaking work on chimpanzees led the world to redefine the meaning of man. When she started out, she had no formal qualifications—not even a college degree—but her diligence to study animals impressed the anthropologist Louis Leakey so much that he eventually helped her get into a PhD program at Cambridge, making her one of few people to hold such a distinction.
Clearly, Jane was smart, capable, and hardworking. But during her time at Cambridge, a lot of her male colleagues opposed her research methods, believing them to be unscientific; Jane preferred to name her chimps instead of numbering them, having observed they had similarities with humans. Instead of folding, Jane stood her ground. For that, she was called a “difficult woman.”
It is challenging to be a woman, when all our lives we’ve been told we needed to meet certain expectations. And if for some reason, like Jane, we choose to defy what’s traditionally expected of us—to be accommodating, to go soft—then we find ourselves the subject of labels: the femme fatale, the boss lady, the difficult woman.
One thing is certain: It is hard to write about women and do them justice.
In fact, I struggled coming up with a title for this month’s list of recommended reads; while we at GRID wanted you to read about some amazing women for Women’s Month, we didn’t want to slap another generic label here.
Instead, here is a list that I hope will show you what it looks like when powerful women are at the center of our stories, and when there are powerful women telling them. No matter who you are, we hope that in reading these, you find the courage to embrace the space you are in today—just as these women did—and occupy it boldly.
No Man’s Land
by Audrey Carpio
Not many people can put scaling the world’s Seven Summits on their list of achievements. Then again, not everyone has had a life like Carina Dayondon’s. This is the story of how one woman pursued her dream against all odds—and how she remained grounded through it all.
The Litas of Manila
by Regine David
Who said women couldn’t ride big, hulking motorcycles—and look good while doing it? In this fashion editorial, shot by equally bad-ass photographer Regine David, the Litas of Manila redefine femininity, and prove that it doesn’t always come in pink.
Whang-Od Loves Coco Martin
by Nina Unlay
A-hundred-and-something years old and a tattooing legend, Whang-Od is more than just a cultural icon; she is the last mambabatok of a generation where tattoos were earned. In this story, Nina Unlay and Fruhlein Econar head to Buscalan to find out if they can still earn theirs—only to test their resolve when things don't go as planned.
Teaching Girls to Code With Isabel Sieh
by Klea Gonzales
At just 11 years old, Isabel Sieh started a revolution. Her organization Girls Will Code aims to close the gender gap in science and technology by encouraging young girls in the Philippines to code. And in this conversation with Klea Gonzales, she explains why her work has just begun.
Girl From The North Country
by Nicola Sebastian
“What is it with girls and horses?” Nicola Sebastian asks in this piece about Solana Perez, who is set to be the first Filipina to join the world’s toughest horse race. A self-proclaimed horse girl herself, Nicola and Solana find themselves bonding over the freedom that comes with learning to embrace the wild.