Guest content from Dr. Nancy O'Reilly of Women Connect4Good.
Women are gaining self confidence and building self esteem around the world, yet it’s easy to feel frustrated when you hear this news: Women occupy too few offices in C-suites, earn too little and are underrepresented in politics. You’ve been in groups where the women gnash their teeth in outrage. Bummer, right?
Au contraire! In just 10 generations women and the men who supported them have turned upside down the social order that endured for 10,000 generations. That’s astounding! So let’s step back to get this in perspective. For just a minute let’s take pride in the progress we’ve made.
Women Are Not Property
Over 200,000 years ago the first anatomically modern humans appeared on earth. Stick with me here. For the past 199,800 years, women were essentially men’s property, much like a chair or a horse. They had no rights to their children, could not own property except by the grace of a father, husband or brother, nor could they get an education. Most professions were closed to them.
In the United States in 1804, women were classified under Napoleonic law as minors, in the same legal category as criminals, children and the insane. Women continued to have few legal rights and little power.
Women Are Gaining Ground
Today, just 10 generations later, women have become more or less equal under the law in developed nations and many developing countries. Women now rank among the richest people in the world; run huge corporations, work in every profession and outnumber men in the workplace, can marry and divorce at will, hold more college degrees than men, and hold the highest government office in many lands. Women’s organized efforts have developed the hospitals, schools, museums, libraries and social supports that enrich our communities’ civilized life.
What an unprecedented transformation in the status of half the population on earth, which has also improved life for the other half. In just 10 generations, WOMEN HAVE DONE THIS FOR THEMSELVES! That’s the most important message here. Have all the battles been won? Of course not. Can women work together and join with like-minded men to continue this earth-changing progress? Of course we can. And we will.
Changing 10,000 Generations of History
But let’s not beat ourselves up that we haven’t crossed the finish line. If you feel stymied sometimes, don’t feel bad. We–and our partners and our employers and our leaders–are making this up as we go along. It’s only taken ten generations of women to change the patterns of 10,000 former generations.
Women—and the men who support their efforts—have never had greater opportunity. Not only White women but African American, Asian and Hispanic women have accomplished many firsts as well. Take the time to appreciate the gains we have made in women empowerment. Today, thanks to women helping women, we are better off than 10,000 generations of women. Let’s celebrate, then get back to work!
This post reprinted with permission from DrNancyOReilly.com.