Women on Women

Women writers talk about their work, and about how writing by women is often marketed as writing for women. Why has the 'chick lit' label persisted? And should it be embraced or challenged?

Confirmed speakers: Samira Sawlani (Chair), Frances Mensah Williams (From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings, 2016), Ayisha Malik (Sophia Khan Is Not Obliged, 2016), Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm (Swimming with Fishes, forthcoming).

Samira Sawlani is a UK based writer specialising in politics, economy and development of East and Horn of Africa, in particular Kenya, Uganda and Somalia. She also writes fiction and human interest stories set in Africa. A holder of an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London she has previously worked with the Commonwealth Secretariat and as an International Election Observer for the Kenyan elections in 2013. Aside from journalism she has also worked in the emergency humanitarian relief and refugee care sector.

Frances Mensah Williams is the author of the novels From Pasta to Pigfoot and From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings. Her non-fiction titles include Everyday Heroes – Learning from the Careers of Successful Black Professionals and I Want to Work in Africa: How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent. A successful entrepreneur and consultant, she is the publisher of ReConnectAfrica.com, an award-winning careers and business portal for African professionals in the Diaspora. Frances was born in Ghana and lived in the USA and Austria before moving to London, where she now lives. Tweets @FrancesMensahW, www.francesmensahwilliams.com www.Facebook.com/FrancesMensahWilliams

Ayisha Malik holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology, and a First Class MA in Creative Writing. She worked at Penguin Random House before moving to Cornerstones where she was managing editor for five years. Her debut novel, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, was met with great critical acclaim and was a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick in 2016. The book has also been optioned for TV. Ayisha is also the ghost writer for Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain's book, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters (Harlequin). She is now a full-time writer and is working on her third novel, as well as Nadiya's second book.

Sarvat Hasin was born in London and grew up in Karachi. She studied Politics at Royal Holloway before doing a masters in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. She is fiction editor at The Stockholm Review and works at Hachette Childrens Group. This Wide Night is her first novel.

Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm is a writer, a playwright and the founder of Candace Magazine, aimed at women of colour. Her initiative was rewarded by many prizes, including the Black Business Woman of the Year, the National Black Women Achievement Award and, more recently, the Pandora Award for Publishing.
Rasheda’s first novel was a runner-up in the Saga Literary Prize. She initiated the Candace Black Women Achievement Award, and WILDE International Network. She currently teaches Creative Writing in London.