Nina Ansary takes Virginia Woolf’s oft quoted statement “Anonymous is a Woman” and writes compellingly about the oppression of women in today’s society, the effects of that oppression and then she highlights 50 women who have failed to be seen in history despite their amazing impact. 

Part one of the book focuses on the way women’s successes have been kept in the shadows and Nina discusses the multiple ways women and men have fought for gender equality over the years.

Part two highlights the immense amount of work to be done to go train global gender equality. Nina shares statistics and stories of where we are lacking and how big the gap truely is.

“The 2018 report also gives us insight into future change, estimating that, if current trends continue, it will take another 108 years to close the global gender gap”

From “Anonymous Is a Woman” by Nina Ansary

As a woman born into privilege and democracy, it is easy to live without thinking of all the women who don’t have the freedom I have and all the women who fought to give me what freedom I do have.

“Around the world, women are given only [three-quarters] of the legal rights that men enjoy, constraining their ability to get jobs, start businesses, [and] make economic decisions that are best for them [and] their families.”

From “Anonymous Is a Woman” by Nina Ansary

In part three, Nina draws on a vast and diverse group of sources to build a robust economic case for gender equality too which is a perspective I’d not heard about before. She argues strongly for balance.

“The report estimates that, if gender equality in earnings is achieved, human capital wealth could increase by over 20 percent, and total global wealth could increase by 14 percent.”

From “Anonymous Is a Woman” by Nina Ansary

In part four, Nina dedicates half of the book to women who haven’t been seen in the pages of history, whose contributions have been overlooked. She chooses just 50, of which I had heard of only one, and each is a fascinating story of female tenacity, male support and phenomenal results which still impact life today. I’m sad that these women weren’t featured in my science, art or business classes.

“Scott Page asserts that if we are to reap the benefits of diversity, team members “cannot check their identities at the door. They must bring their whole selves—their identities, their experiences, their education and training—to achieve [diversity] bonuses.” In other words, success requires unity and difference.”

From “Anonymous Is a Woman” by Nina Ansary

Whilst full of history, “Anonymous Is a Woman” is a page-turner, I read it in one sitting eager to hear more about the women who came before me and the work we still have ahead of us. This is one to share widely, with children and adults alike! I highly recommend it, it’s a five out of five.

From the back cover:

In 1929, British novelist Virginia Woolf ran her fingers along the spines of the books in her library wondering why no woman in Shakespeare’s era had written “a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet.” She concluded, “Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Nearly a century after Woolf penned those incisive words, frequently modified as “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” the phenomenon of female anonymity persists as women worldwide continue to be restricted by society’s formal and unspoken barriers. Why does Virginia Woolf’s statement still echo in the twenty-first century? Why have women been consistently denied opportunities that are automatically given to men? And why has the historical record failed to adequately recognize notable women? Anonymous Is a Woman: A Global Chronicle of Gender Inequality takes readers on a 4,000-year historic journey to expose the roots and manifestations of institutionalized gender discrimination; dismantle centuries of historical bias through biographical profiles of fifty remarkable, yet forgotten women innovators; and challenge ingrained stereotypical assumptions to advance an unconventional argument for equality and inclusivity. 

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Revela Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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