PublisHer planted its flag in Brazil’s vibrant book industry this month at the invitation of Flavia Brevin, Head of Saber Educação and partner at Brazil’s largest educational group, Cogna.

The 1 July event in São Paulo, called On Being a PublisHer: what makes us publishers now and in the future, served both to gather Brazilian bookwomen under the PublisHer umbrella and launch a wider Latin American chapter of the movement.

Fifty women of radically diverse profiles attended, from freshly graduated publishing assistants to veteran CEOs of houses publishing YA, children’s, trade, educational (K12), STM, and religion. They were joined by International Publishers Association (IPA) presidents past (Ana María Cabanellas), present (Bodour Al Qasimi) and future (Karine Pansa), who shared their uniquely international perspectives during the welcome breakfast, panel discussions and networking break.

Other panelists were Fernanda Garcia, Executive Director of the Brazilian Book Chamber; Nathália Dimambro, publisher at Seguinte; and Miriam Gabbai, publisher and founding partner at Callis; Iris Ferrão, legal editor at Saraiva Educação.

On Being a PublisHer

Flavia Brevin

Flavia Brevin addresses the São Paulo audience

‘In my entire career, I have never had a female boss,’ Flavia told the audience. ‘The opportunity as a woman to be in a leadership position comes with the responsibility of being an example, of helping, of supporting a network such as PublisHer. This is one of the main reasons we were so excited to organize PublisHer in Brazil.’

By contrast, Nathália Dimambro said she had only had female managers, who had all been inspirational mentors.

‘Being a woman means fighting all the time. Being a woman editor is fighting with the weapons we have, which are books…It’s no use for publishers to invest in books with diversity just because they sell, or just to create an illusion that they defend these ideals. We need affirmative actions that show a commitment to making the publishing market more diverse, not only in the books we publish, but also in the staff within the publishing houses.’

Karine Pansa, Bodour Al Qasimi, Mariam Gabbai

Karine Pansa, Bodour Al Qasimi, Miriam Gabbai

For her part, Miriam Gabbai urged women to work to their unique strengths and not to emulate their male counterparts.

‘Sometimes we are in doubt whether we should masculinise our way of acting to be more integrated into the work environment,’ she said. ‘This is not always the best solution. By talking and getting to know other experiences, we gain self-confidence and support to act in a way that is coherent with ourselves.’

PublisHer is above all a support network, something picked up by Renata Müller, general director of Abrelivros. ‘The PublisHer movement shows us how important it is to be close, exchange experiences and encourage each other … as in every market, we (women) usually need extra proof of competence to climb, and it is very good to have a support network that knows the pains and delights of the profession.’

Ana Maria Cabanellas

Ana María Cabanellas in conversation

The ideal of women helping women was further reinforced by Argentinian doyenne Ana María Cabanellas, who founded several publishing houses and is president of Grupo Claridad. She was also the first female president of the IPA, president of CADRA (Argentina’s RRO), the Argentine Book Chamber, and GIE. 

‘I was the first woman to be president of the IPA, only in 2004, after more than 100 years of male presidents in the association. I made my experience a lever and motivation to help the next woman in the job, Bodour, and she is doing the same for Karine.’ 

What next?

Flavia is committed to keeping the PublisHer flag flying in Brazil, with a follow-up in São Paulo planned for August and growing appetite for another gathering in Minas Gerais, a large inland state in southeastern Brazil.

‘We’re here to help more women get there, no matter where ‘there’ is – whether it’s being an editor, an agent, a self-employed professional, CEO, author,’ she said.