100 Voices to Celebrate 100 Years

Somewhere between World Book Day and International Women’s Day 2020, I learned about an amazing project championing both the written word and female voices.

Started by Miranda Roszkowski, 100 Voices is a collection of stories by women writers about how they found their voices. The campaign came about as a celebration of 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the U.K. and it is seeking to fund the creation of this inspiring, funny and profound collection of stories through the Unbound platform.

Over 100 days from the 6th February 2018, the project collected a library of women’s stories from authors across all ages and walks of life.

The book will feature narratives from a 17 year old finding her way through life, through to a 70 year old political campaigner. The stories captured share a wealth of every-day to extraordinary experiences of women, including a refugee learning about life in Britain, a mother overcoming grief and a dance champion learning to deal with failure.

The chapters are as diverse as the authors, and feature contributions from Guilty Feminist creator Deborah Frances-White (foreword); Women’s Prize long-listed author Yvonne Batlle-Felton; bestselling thriller writer Louise Jensen; playwright in residence at the Globe Theatre, Sabrina Mahfouz; disability campaigner Isabelle Clement; and observational writer and Twitter queen Miranda Keeling. 

Why support 100 Voices?

I immediately fell in love with the 100 Voices campaign and pledged to help bring this book into reality. However, I was eager to learn more about the project and what I could do to further support it.

I had the opportunity to speak to Miranda and I wanted to share what I have learned about the campaign, as well as how you can get behind it to show your support too.

The woman behind the book, Miranda Roszkowski is a writer and civil servant currently living on a boat somewhere on Britain’s waterways. She has worked with the National Theatre Wales and Royal Court playwrighting programmes and has fiction published, both in print and online.

She is the host and curator of the spoken word night There Goes The Neighbourhood in Hackney, London and is currently working on her first novel. She is fuelled by her passion for great stories and who gets to tell them.

Here’s what Miranda had to say about why she started 100 Voices, why the project is so important and why you should get involved.

Could you tell us about yourself and why you started the 100 Voices project? 

I’m a writer (my day job is in the civil service) and have been running a spoken word night in Hackney for a few years called There Goes The Neighbourhood. One of the things I really loved about it was bringing writers together into a space and seeing what happens.

I started 100 Voices in 2018 as it was the centenary of the first women’s voting rights and I wanted to mark that. I wanted to do it in a way that would celebrate women’s stories. So, I started a podcast that would run for 100 days with a new short, true story by a female-identifying writer each day.

I didn’t even know 100 writers before it all started but through friends, Twitter and talking about the project to anyone I met, I found the 100 Voices (and an added bonus is that all of the pieces are mind-blowingly brilliant!). But, I wanted to share them with even more people – and that’s why we’re crowdfunding a book of these stories on Unbound.

Even during this pandemic we’re still going – and we only have 10 weeks left!

Why do you think it is important to create space for women to be heard?

It’s so important because 100 years after the first women got the vote, women‘s voices are still marginalised in our media, culture and political life.

If we have more space for women’s stories – that’s a start, and I think that it will make a big difference. I think the current situation is partly due to the gatekeepers, the people who choose which stories get heard. But, it’s starting to change now, due to publishers like Unbound. The really good thing about crowdfunding is that the readers get to show the industry what they’re actually interested in. And hopefully that’s our book! 

What do you hope people will learn or take away from the book? 

The stories in the book are all so original and different from each other. It seems so obvious but I would like the reader to see that there are more ways to be a woman than we get to see – in the mainstream media, film, even in fiction.

We have a world of stories but we are often reduced to one thing. 

What are your top tips for women who want to make themselves heard or to help raise the voices of other women? 

Always back your sisters. We need to stick together – and amazing things happen when we help each other.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or for what you need. I wouldn’t have even started this project if I knew what it would actually take – but I’ve had loads of help just from asking. 

And while I’m here… I’d like to ask your readers a favour too! Please check out our Unbound page. This book is important and if you support us you will actually make it a reality. And you get your name in the back of a hard copy – forever! 

If you’d like to support the 100 voices project, you can head to the unbound page to pledge now! Miranda has kindly offered 10% off with the code IWD100 before the end of March 2020.

Don’t forget to follow the progress on Twitter and share your support to let other people know about this important campaign.

*Please note: I’m not being paid to write this blog, I just want to help raise awareness so the book successfully goes to print!

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